Part 4 Bibliography –

Betterton, Rosemary, 1996. Intimate Distance. 1st ed. London: Routledge.

Carson, Fiona, & Pajaczkowska, Claire 2000. Feminist Visual Culture. 1st ed. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Cumming, Laura, 2009. A Face to the Wold: on self-portraits. 1st ed. London: Harper Collins.

Hall, James, 2014. The Self-Portrait: A cultural History. 1st ed. UK: Thames & Hudson.

Kemp Martin & Wallace, Marina (2000), Spectacular Bodies, 1st ed, London, Hayward Gallery

Marion Young, Iris, 2005. On Female Body Experience. 1st ed. New York: Oxford University Press.

Saunders, Gill, 1989. The Nude: a new perspective. 1st ed. London: The Herbert Press Ltd.

Sennett, Richard, 1996. Flesh & Stone. 1st ed. London: W W Norton & Company Ltd.

Simblet, Sarah, 2001. Anatomy for the Artist. 1st ed. London: Dorling Kindersley.

Webb, Peter, 2004. Death, Desire & The Doll. 1st ed. UK: Solar Books.

Woodall, Joanna, 2005. Self-Portrait: Renaissance to Contemporary. 1st ed. London: National Portrait Gallery.

Project 4 – Research – Self-portraits

In my sketchbook I have looked at elf-portraits by many artists from the “early masters” to early 20th century painters in order to try to understand the cultural, visual, and historic context of the work.

Contemporary Artists:- Jenny, Saville, Chuck Close, Lucien Freud, David Hockney, MarleneDumas, Elizabeth Peyton,

David Hockney – it seems like over the decades Hockney has investigated a huge variety of mark making and tonal qualities.   From his early line based drawings through more tonally based paintings and onto rather flat surface images – particularly with his use of the ipad.

Lucien Freud – was always essentially a mark maker whether in drawing or using the paint as mark and.  It almost feels like he hollows/chisels out the paint making very stark lines though the use of tone.

Chuck Close – has developed over time to produce his wonderfully colourful pixilated paintings which upon inspection are more and more complex.    The build up of the contours via the method of intricate filling in of each square/rectangle.  An amazing colourist.

Marlene Dumas – as discussed early she tends to us a rather flat tone throughout her drawings/paintings concentrating on the features as if penetrating the surface of the face.  Line is minimal.

Jenny Saville – Her very complex drawings and patintings often allude to multi-view images with surface layered on surface to create the depth and tones.   Drawing seems to be very traditional in her approach the compositions making them very contemporary in their structure and context.

juggling babies

I don’t know or don’t want to know what the title of this painting is but I call it “Juggling Babies” it is very reminiscent for me of the experience of motherhood – which is far from the idealised Madonna and child. I particularly like how she incorporates the painting with drawing adding to the density and energy of the image.

elizabeth peyton

Elizabeth Peyton describes her faces with flat application of line.  Tones in the main are implied rather than shown. There is a directness about the gaze that she produces from her sitters.

 

 

Part 4 – Project 4 – Structure – Research

Decided to start a separate Anatomy Book and am working my way through the studies.

project 4 exercise 1 structure anatomy book 1

 

anatomy book 2

 

anatomy book 3

Not always using my body but building up different ways of depicting.

knees

head etc

hands

arm

Historic & Contemporary

da vinci Da Vinci

el greco 2 El Greco

clemente susini wax  clemente susini Clemente Susini (1754 – 1814)

mueck  mueck 2 Ron Muerk

gormley  gormley 3 Antony Gormley

body-art-marc-quinn Marc Quinn

uglow  Euan Uglow

 

 

Part 4 – Research – The Nude

In the Beginning…

Early roots via the Greeks with their idealised body forms but where the male figure is nearly always heroic and often the female denoting victim hood (Sanders 1989). However the Greeks thought nakedness mainly attached to nobility whereas by the time Christianity took hold this was attributed to shame or sin – via the biblical story of Adam and Eve. “With the coming of Christianity, bodily suffering acquired a new spiritual value”. (Sennett p 124) He goes onto discuss how the development of Western civilisation and in particular its cities has been hugely influenced through historical eras and their response to the human body – in particular male and female.  “This legacy contains deep internal contradictions and strains…the master image of male nakedness could not fully control or define the clothed bodies of women”. ( p373)  Via the rise of Christianity and the creation of the Venice Ghetto, through the French Revolution  he concludes:- “Lurking in the civic problems of a multi-cultural city is the moral difficulty of arousing sympathy for those who are Other .” (p376 )  He could be describing the UK today with Brexit looming, migrants at our gates and the masses (Grenfell Tower) making their voices heard.

Quoted by Sanders (1989) Aristotle claimed:-

“Man is active, full of movement, creative in politics, business and culture.   The male shapes and moulds society and the world.   Woman, on the other hand is passive.   She stays at home as is her nature.   She is matter waiting to be formed and moulded by the active male principle.” 

In the modern sense “men act and women appear” (Berger 1972)

Throughout the classical period and up until the 19th century the female nude; “may avert her gaze or hide her eyes, or turn away from  the viewer…..Sometimes the head may be covered, or perhaps unfinished , even cut off from the edge of the picture – all these devices render their subject anonymous, denying individuality and status, and reducing the body to a stereotype”. (Sanders  p24)

She further argues that “Women are caught between two conflicting ideologies both founded on male control and definition of female sexuality.   On the one hand there is the pressure to conform to the male ideal of display and availability in order to function in society, and at the same time society expresses its fear of women’s sexuality by teaching women to be ashamed of their bodies, to regard them as both sinful and imprefect”. (Sanders p 132)

Little has changed since 1989 when Sanders were writing.   Now we see much more of women’s bodies but they have become more and more idealised through advertising, social media,  and general availability though mass media culture. A few photographs collected from recent Daily Mail (May 2017) online images.

3F98F9EA00000578-0-image-a-18_1493143714806

An idealised posterior?   Or a subject of debate?

levis-791442

or fashion…. how much to expose or not…

three-graces-clothes

Boticelli (1445 – 1510)

Raphaël_-_Les_Trois_Grâces_-_ Raphael (1483 – 1520) 

Courbet 2

Courbet – The Origin of the World (1866)

From the idealised Renaissance to the realism of the “market” via Courbet.   So over the centuries through the lens that is beauty, gender and power via the cultural experiences of identity, sexuality, politics and history itself women continue to struggle to realise their own reality.    More recently the feminist literature has sought to define “lived experience” as the axiom with which to describe womens’ state (Young 2005).

Trying personally to move forward I was struck by the fly sheet of a book I recently bought:-

feminist culture 001

…to be continued (Carson & Pajaczkowska 2000) (See current sketchbook for further discussion)

Understanding the Body

From the time of Leonardo da Vinci when dissecting cadavers was a criminal act but one that he and many of his Renaissance fellow artists pursued in order to further understand the workings of the human body.

Rembrandt – Madrid

I was lucky enough last year to visit Madrid for the first time and to see the lesser know partial Rembrandt of the lost Anatomy Lesson.   With the foreshortened body similar to Magnata (????) the surgeon is dissecting the skull.

Rembrant anatomy lesson Part of the lost Anatomy Lesson

Rembrant anatomy 2  Rembrant detail (detail)

Bologna Istituto di Anatomia Umana Normale

1 2 4 3

One of the ways that knowledge of the body was learned and shown to the medical profession was via the use of wax models which reached its zenith of creativity in the 18th century.  A little know but wonderful museum in Bologna, now attached to the university is available for viewing as we did about a year ago.   These exquisite sculptures whilst being macabre in a way are very beautiful and worthy of artistic admiration.

Edward Muybridge (1830 – 1904)

EM 1  EM 2  EM 3

And then came the camera.   Muybridge’s iconic work allowed artists and the public to see for the first time how movement actually happened in his extensive studies of the human body.   Whilst I say in movement, actually the men were very active whilst the women photographed were mainly just passively changing position with very demure downcast eyes.

The Fetishised Female

The Fetishised Female a phrase used by Sanders in The nude a new perspective  (1989) looks particularly at the way women’s bodies were truncated, denied heads, arms, legs, certainly faces at times.   This has become something of the norm in media images particularly for advertising.   Recently a bodyform ad has been banned because it concentrates on women’s crutch areas and never shows a whole person.

Bill Brandt (1904 – 1983)

BB 1  BB 2  BB 3

Richard Pearlstein

phillip pearlstein     phillip pearlstein 2

Regain Our Bodies

Jenny Saville

download (2)   download (1)

Writing as a female I am aware that some artists have worked at moving away from the idealised “painted lady”

…Or Not

Euan Uglow

Euan Uglow 1  downloadEuan Uglow 2

Euan Uglow 3  Euan Uglow 4

Whilst for others  you could say that a woman’s body is a prop in an artistic landscape.

Story so far….

At this stage I am not clear what post-feminism is saying to us about the body.   I will continue with my reading of Feminist Visual Culture – although the “signs” are that it is already out of date…..

 

 

Part 4 – Figure & Head – Research- Personal Observations

pontorno 1  pontorno 2

I have recently been introduced to the stunning drawings by Pontormo a Renaissance artist  (1494 – 1557) whose beautiful expressive images use line in a very particular way – half there – not there with tonal values added that show an extensive understanding of anatomy.

shiele 2  schiele 1  schiele 3

Leaping through the years the anguished lines of Egon Schiele depict his own searching for accuracy and engangement via his numerous self-portraits.   However as shown by the drawing on the right he was capable of exceptional accurate sculptural studies too.

Kathe Kollowitz 1

KK 2  I have also been drawn to the work of Kathe Kollowitz whose many images particularly of mothers and children evoke a caring kind of intimacy which I admire.

Frank_Auerbach_Ruth_96

FA 4  And Frank Auerbach’s expressive excursions of images of particularly the face.   The overworking and layering using eccentric marks and materials.

Piet Peere

PP 2   Finally in the drawings I enjoy the work of contemporary artist Piet Peere.  Here Anatomy is carved in a different way tonally as opposed to lineal marks by Auerbach.

What I want to Say about Bodies

If I look at the different work above and the styles of the artists I am struck by how I am drawn to two opposing energies.   The strong individual lines and marks that are Schiele and Auerbach.  In contrast the careful tonal weight and intimacy of the bodies by Pontormo and Peete among others.

This is the ambiguity I experience when I am working on a drawing.   Working fast and innately or working slower thinking the structures , relationships, and form.  It is also the experience of my own relationship to my body, being female, daughter, mother, grandmother…..there is often, always (conscious or unconsciously) the pull and push of the two sides – energies which are nurturing and those which are wilder, more destructive perhaps, certainly physical.   Energies that even yet require the testing of boundaries and limits.

Self Portrait

Moving through the exercises I am surprised by how much I am drawn to the self portrait.   Capturing the intimacy with oneself at the same time as knowing you are going to be observed – viewed is challenging.   Do I want to appear better than I am – what is better?   Younger, less double chin and drooping jowls.  Actually I realise this is the one place I can be totally honest.   Not driven by acceptable presentation of the self to the work as in social media, advertising, celebrity driven guidelines.

You can only be an acceptable older woman if you are Helen Mirren, Judy Dench, Jane Fonda etc. ….  Talented, slim, tweeked.   I love my long grey hair – the only time I have had long hair in my life.   I am thinking of a 65+ year old version of Munch…

munch_edward_4

Strange when I found this again I was surprised that it was not as I remember it.   The figure less erotic, the hair less evocative of  looseness, sexuality.  It wasn’t until I looked it up that I realised that this is called Madonna.   To my non Christian background this was not obvious……       His work has been described as “psychological talisman”(theartstory.org). which I think is what interests me about the work. Immediately I am thinking about Cindy Sherman’s historic images series…..

Cindy_Sherman_historic_portrait_-222_1990 cindy sherman historic portrait 2

and Henrik Kerstens iconic plastic bags ……

historic portrait with plastic bag henrik kerstens 2 henrik kerstens 3 with all the trimmings – doilies et al.

Conslusions

As I draw to the end of this section, Part 4, I am more interested in drawing on my own body, literally as a source and am thinking of ways in which I can form the Part 5 around this theme.   However I am also still interested in my dolls – and doll parts (see sketchbook) and the influence of Hans Bellmer.

At this stage of my life 65+ I am less inhibited about my own body than ever and rather like John Coplans – would like to find a way to use my own anatomy as a metaphor.

I particularly like the images where the body is not immediately “readable” – enigmatic.

Said Coplans: “I have the feeling that I’m alive, I have a body. I’m seventy years old, and generally the bodies of seventy-year old men look somewhat like my body. It’s a neglected subject matter…So, I’m using my body and saying, even though it’s a seventy year old body, I can make it interesting. This keeps me alive and gives me vitality. It’s a kind of process of energising myself by my belief that the classical tradition of art that we’ve inherited from the Greeks is a load of bullshit.” (Wikipedia)

 

Part 3 – Reflections 3 – Assignment 3

Thoughts on the context and content of the Assignment 3 pieces.

Matisse table

matisse table

raoul_dufy_littlepalmtree

Raul Duffy – Little Palm Tree

When I had decided to work on the image of the garden I was thinking of the tables and chairs as they appear in many of the impressionist and post-impressionist paintings.   The only difference is that these seem mainly to have been painted in high summer or at least in strong light.

I wanted to feature the table which had erupted over the winter and was trailing its edge, the surface now undulating with damp.   On top of this is the pot with a plant that is just stem and no leaves.  Finally there is the bare earth in parts of the border.

revised view Assignment 3

Since this photograph was taken there was a big storm during which the pot fell and broke and the table has now been taken to the dump!  Transitions.   In a way this is what I think the whole of this Part 3 has been about – getting me out and re-connecting to the outside world.   In some areas this has had a strong response and in others i.e. buildings no response at all.

Also I suppose there was context and personal connection in the assignment piece but it does not come through as strongly as in the last 2 assignments I think.

Learning:-

  • A lot of frustrations which sometimes pushed me on to do things I would not have previously undertaken
  • Re-connecting to outside, trees, nature, landscape etc. personal places
  • Need for greater planning and thought in preparation for going out to draw
  • Still struggling with keeping work fresh and spontaneous
  • Challenging myself to use different materials and combination of materials.
  • Necessary to undertake more time planning at beginning of the modules so that I can fit in reading and research in a more structured way
  • More patience – I can’t achieve everything at once – but keep trying!
  • Stay open to opportunities and my responses to subject matter
  • Keep more notes on what rises to my consciousness – it doesn’t have to fit.

 

Part 3 – Project 5 – Townscapes – Research

John Virtue

John Virtue - The Oxo Tower

john-virtue-no8x1182

virtue-working-in-his-studio-c-twothird

Working as an associate at the National Gallery he concentrated in his usual style of black and white on the landscape of London.   His cityscapes are very similar in feel to his landscapes and seascapes.

Frank Auerbach

Frank Auerbach who is particularly known for his paintings and drawings of heads has also unrelentingly drawn the scene around his studio in Mornington Crescent London for the last 40 years plus.   Unlike his heads and figures these appear to be painted very quickly with broad strokes and striking colours.   Structurally they are strong but also represent the very hig-ildy pig-idly area where it is not always possible to pick out individual buildings or structures.

Auerbach urban painting

Mornington Crescent - Summer Morning - Frank Auerbach

Nisja Nisja

This Polish artist https://www.saatchiart.com/nisja currently living in Amsterdam.   Again it is the structure, textures and her use of colours that she brings to a largely unpopulated canvas that I particularly enjoy.

Nisja Nisja red factory

Snowscape-With-House Nisja Nisja

Angela Wakefield

An English painter working exclusively in urban environments here and abroad.

Angela-Wakefield-lighttrails-manchester-2010

Angela-Wakefield-Low-Petergate-York-2010

Strong colours and dynamic perspective adds drama to her urban scenes.

Overall

I am drawn to both the dynamism of some of the urban painters particularly Virtue and Auerbach.   But equally there is something very engaging in the stark shapes of Nisja’s work.

My thoughts are that you can choose whether to evoke the energy of a cityscape or the alienation.    This is the choice of the artist as always.