Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Art Opinions of Ingres

The French painter Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1780-1867) was known for his sensous line and refined surfaces, but he also had strong opinions about art.

Here are ten aphorisms about art. Only eight of them are attributed to Ingres. Two statements hiding in the list are from other people. Can you guess which two statements do not belong to Ingres?

1. Always keep that happy naïveté, that charming ignorance.
2. If I could make musicians out of all of you, you would benefit as painters.
3. Love truth because it is also beauty.
4. A work of art should contain two elements: the element of reality, which is nature, and the element of individuality, which is man.
5. Paint without any model. You must completely realize that your model is never the thing you wish to paint.
6. Anatomy is a dreadful science. If ever I had to learn anatomy, I never would have been a painter.
7. I have always attempted perfection of form.
8. Drawing is everything. It is all of art.
9. People want paintings you can walk around in. I don’t give a fig for that.
10. Don’t waste your time in copying at the museum. Make simple sketches from the masters.
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Addendum, December 11
4 and 7 are the answers. Jason's Brush guessed correctly.

#7 is from –Odilon Redon, from his writing "A soi-meme."
#4 is from Emile Zola, Essay on Present Day Art.

The second half of Ingres's quote about use of models was this: "...your model is never the thing you want to paint, neither in character of drawing nor in coloring; but at the same time, it is absolutely necessary to do nothing without the model..."

The source book was "From the Classicists to the Impressionists: Art and Architecture in the Nineteenth Century," edited by E.G. Holt, 1966.

31 comments:

dt said...

Perhaps you'll give us the answers later in the week? I consider drawing my "Violin d'Ingres". How twisted and self referential is that?

Mary Ann said...

Looking forward to the answer (later this week or from a wise person who follows your blog later today?)

Pat said...

I like 4,5,and 10. :)

Meredith D. said...

Well, I don't know much about Ingres, so I'm going to guess 5 and 9 don't belong, because of his obvious (?) use of a model and detailed realism. But if it was that easy, you wouldn't have made this quiz, would you?

Super Wu-Man said...

i would say 4 and 9, who says "fig" haha, that one really stands out as being figging goofy!

Super Wu-Man said...

also i think its funny, when anyone becomes really good at somthing such as painting, music math. they all the sudden become geniuses on any subject, because they know people will listen to them because they are educated on one subject...haha, pathetic!

thats why i really enjoy the gurney journey blog, its less about telling people how things are or should be in art, and more about asking questions and exploring....

projo.com said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mara said...

Hi Mr. Gurney,

I've been following your blog for ages and really appreciate your regularly updating with such great content! I'm tempted to choose 1 and 5 here as the exceptions—for 1, I don't think many of his paintings are "charming" or "naive"...(i.e. Zeus and Thetis or Olympia), and for 5, I'm pretty sure one of the aspects of Olympia was how she was based on a model that many viewers at his time recognized.

Jasons-Brush said...

James,

Im going to have to say

4. I'm not sure Ingres actually says this. Although it does sound like him a bit.

9.Ive read allot about Ingres and so far, Ive not come across this in my notes.

10.This ones a bit confusing, I have in my notes that Ingres does tell his students to copy the old masters, and not just sketches.

I know they cant all be right but Im unsure about one.

Best Jason

Kathy Hodge said...

I say 3 and 7, because they seem rather obvious. I love this quote though, whoever said it. "You must completely realize that your model is never the thing you wish to paint."

Casey Klahn said...

What a great idea! I have opinions, but only based on wild guesses!

I was looking into Ingres' drawing style, and he is quite the artist. When you give us the answer, sensei, perhaps you might recommend some reading on the old boy, too.

James Gurney said...

I'll say up front that this is a hard one. You all have reasonable guesses, but no single person has guessed both of the two alien quotes yet.

Some of Ingres' actual quotes are a bit out of context, so when I give the answers tomorrow, I'll try to give Ingres his due.

Erik Bongers said...

Wild guesses.

6. Anatomy is a dreadful science.

9. People want paintings they can walk around in. I don't give a fig for that.

They are just the funniest remarks to me.
I really have no clue.

Michael said...

#6 and #9. I agree with both. Anatomy is much harder than it looks (an understatement, but still).

Michelle Johnson said...

Possibly 6 and 9. Did people say "I don't give a fig" or the equivalent in French in the first half of the 19th century?

Thomas Brissot said...

#3 and #8.
3 because it just doesn't feel like him, and 8 because he said "80% of a painting is drawing" (which is not exactly the same statement).
Actually all quotes could be wrong or right, it's a really hard quizz

dt said...

I'm going with 1 and 3. If only they had been posted in the original French. I'm sure they lose something in translation.

Nick said...

Great quiz James. I'd go for 1 because naivety and ignorance seem to be furthest from his style and 7 because he's famous for his distortions of form.

Stephen James. said...

Ah Ingres (who's name is not at all pronounced as it is spelled.)

I have a friend who loves him to no end (and feels thusly that he must hate Sargent, I don't get it.)

He was a strong proponent of line being the key element of art right? In many ways I like his drawings more than his paintings.

And as I recall he did believe that Anatomy was for the dead.

Jasons-Brush said...

Hi James,

I have in my library a book by Elizabeth Gilmore Holt, From the Classicists to the Impressionists.

Nearly all of these quotes can be found there. Ive read the book several times. Ingres is discussed. That's why this seems very tricky to me. I can say with assurance that 1,2,&,3 are all Ingres. 4 could be, that one is tuff. I believe 5,6,7,8, all to be true. 9, and 10 well I'll just have to wait and see.

You have me intrigued. Im going to reread the the chapter on Ingres tonight, I cant wait to see the results.

Sincerely, Jason

Josephine said...

Oh, maybe it's #1 and #8?

Glad your putting up the answers tomorrow!

Jasons-Brush said...

Ok He did say number 9, so Im now guessing 4 and 10, I shall return after more reading.

Best Jason

Jasons-Brush said...

James,

I do believe I have it now, The answers must be 4 and 7

Best Jason

Jasons-Brush said...

And Further more, If Im correct

#4. would of been said by Peter Von Cornelius.

And # 7. would be Odilon Redon

Best Jason

James Gurney said...

Jason, you've got it! 4 and 7 are the answers. You're right that #7 is from –Odilon Redon, from his writing "A soi-meme."

#4 is from Emile Zola, Essay on Present Day Art.

The second half of Ingres's quote about use of models was this: "...your model is never the thing you want to paint, neither in character of drawing nor in coloring; but at the same time, it is absolutely necessary to do nothing without the model..."

My source book was "From the Classicists to the Impressionists: Art and Architecture in the Nineteenth Century," edited by E.G. Holt, 1966.

Thanks for everyone who tossed in a comment. I'm going away wanting to learn more about Ingres; his ideas were pretty challenging.

Frank Ordaz said...

Hey Jim,

I am now after all these years a big believer of #4. N.C Wyeth said in so many words that you end up exposing who you are in your artwork.

I like what Emile Gruppe said,...

"You paint the way you're made.And the viewer, is interested because he senses your mind and emotions at work"

My sense is that Ingre was pretty tightly wound....;v)

I must tell you that I found you after doing a search on Ivan Kramskoi, my current favorite portrait artist. It took me to a page written by Lines and Colors and I saw a comment by you!

blessings bro

Gayle said...

its funny that so many posting here who didnt want to credit 5 to Ingres because of the use of the model. While he did use a model, his figures were subject to his whims, not the model's anatomy. His women were extra squishy and bent in ways that wouldn't allow them to stand up. Just look at his Grande Odalisque! This was truly typical of his style. Also, someone mentioned Olympia (which is painted by Manet, not Ingres). I think his point was not that one shouldn't use a model, but his "charming and naive style" allowed him to disregard her true form and create what he envisioned.

winna said...

It's funny--but I picked 9 and 5, too--just seemed he might say them to fill the lull in a conversatiion...

Joe Salamida said...

In that quote about the model.... he is telling you to go to the model. Nothing can be achieved without it. I hate picking apart art quotes. They make me think a little too much.

Thomas Brissot said...

The worst thing about Ingres was his teaching, I guess, except for Theodore Chassériau (that he discredited later ). He was teaching to be so careful with color that all of his pupils (that he name "my children", except for Chasseriau again) ended up doing grey "dull" paintings (on the color POV of course).
So what does it say about his quotes? Can we really take advice from those quotes? I guess this is like some of Sargent's opinions that are not very "good teaching quotes".
To end up I would like to talk about the things artists say about themselves, or their work. Ingres was not aware that he was making such revolutionnary paintings. He truly believed (well maybe not so much at the end of his life though) that he was the most classical painter ever.
Believing what an artist say about his art, or about art in general, is very tricky and we should always be careful with it, I guess that is my point.

Erik Bongers said...

Good point Thomas.