Monday, March 13, 2017

Dead-Eye Daumier

During my last visit to the Art Institute of Chicago, I came across these old favourites of mine: a cabinet full of little bronze sculptures by Daumier:



There are about thirty of them, each one a caricature of a French politician or public figure from the 1830s. Daumier fashioned them in clay in about 1835, but they weren't cast in bronze until nearly a century later.

What I love about them is not just that they are wickedly exaggerated, but that each one is so intensely individualised, so that even though we don't know who any of these people are, we have no doubt that they are accurate exaggerations of real people, with their twisted faces, daft hairstyles, ogreishly ugly faces, and mean expressions.


They may be satirical, like cartoons in three dimensions, but they are still so very skilful and so very beautiful.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Mind's I at the Ed Paschke Center

SAIC students visiting The Mind's I on Wednesday, March 1st, 2017.
Last week, I took part in a drawing project at the Ed Paschke Art Center in Chicago. The center in itself is worth a visit, too, by the way: not just to see Paschke's wacky yet beguiling art, but because the repurposing of the building (in a nondescript area bordered by fast food joints and a nearby freeway) was done so well.

The Mind's I is a collaborative project initiated by Chicago-based Anne Harris. To quote from the press release:

Self-perception and self-expression are central concerns of The Mind’s I, which marries mimesis, or representation, with diegesis, or thoughts and actions. The presence of each artist allows their individual portraits to stand on their own, but when taken together, The Mind’s I presents a moving composite about looking as much as it is about being seen.
Each participant is asked to draw on 12" x 12" sheets of paper, using any materials they like, but steering away from photos or computers as sources and working instead with the basic human machinery of hand, eye, and imagination. Harris works for weeks in the gallery space, drawing with dozens of invited artists. The artists choose which drawings to add to the pre-drawn squares on the wall, and as you can see in the above photo, the result is quite a collection of self-portraits, done in almost as many styles as there are participants. Here are a few close-ups of other people's work:


I started off by doing blind contour self-portraits for an hour:

I then spent two hours working on longer studies, using neocolor crayons. Here is the best of those efforts:
The distortions came about because by this time I was joining in the conversation in the room, and I was unconsciously registering the shifts in position whenever I looked back at the paper.

But that was part of the experience that stood out to me: doing something as inward looking as a self-portrait, but in a room of other artists where the conversation roamed widely between consultations on the specific drawing at hand, to current US politics, to the Irish propensity for group singing.

Full disclosure: I reviewed an exhibition of Anne Harris's work for Hyperallergic about 18 months ago (link here).

Related Posts

Related Posts with Thumbnails