Saturday, March 31, 2018

The Artist or the Art? - and thoughts on Egon Schiele

Here is a clothed model from a session of about 2 hours last Wednesday evening. Pastel on Canson brown pastel paper.... and so we come to the whole question of painting and drawing models.  We treat models in a professional, respectful way and they are paid for their work. Long poses, now are often draped (clothed) poses. This is to create a bit more of a "story" and also that the challenge of rendering realistically draped clothing takes a bit longer. Lately there has been a lot of press about the relationship of the artist to the art with the cancellation of a retrospective of the work of Chuck Close after he was accused of sexual impropriety, being just one such story.  On the other hand, there is a retrospective of Egon Schiele work on show in Boston and there is no doubt that his work is sexual and his lifestyle open to question. When I was in Cesky Krumlof in the Czech Republic some years ago, I visited an Egon Schiele museum. Some of the drawings were pretty well pornographic and there was information about his trial for exposing young people to pornography, for which he was sentenced to 28 days in prison. On the other hand, there was also some beautifully expressive line work and real talent. I don't like most of his self-portraits - especially the nude ones that show a self-hatred, but nevertheless show talent. Just my opinion.  But, I wouldn't want to see his work banned because of his personal life. There is some question about the many female nudes painted by male artists, displayed in many galleries.  One reason is that it was male artists who got  recognition most of the time. No doubt many of the artists were less than sterling characters but I think we should be looking at the art and not the artist's  lives. Otherwise, where do we draw the line? Maybe we just don't know all the details of the private lives of those who lived in the past. What we should be looking at is what is in front of us - and consider  how we react to it. Reactions can vary - I have a nude painting that I was proud of as I had set the pose and the lighting in the absence of the instructor, who got detained by traffic. I have it up in my bedroom and, while she was alive, my mother complained about it every time she came over! She found any nudity offensive. In our Life Drawing sessions, there are more women than men. Generally speaking, there are more female models and often both male and female artists prefer drawing females - the curves are nicer! Drawing nudes, for artists, is like playing scales for musicians- it keeps you tuned up. You can draw a tree and make a lot of mistakes and still have it recognized as a tree- but make mistakes in human proportions and the errors are obvious. I don't think drawing nudes will be banned as long as we live in a free society

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