Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Drawing Show in Massachusetts

The Clark Art Institute in Massachusetts is presenting an exhibition of master drawings that spans Western art from the Renaissance to the 20th century.

Jean-Baptiste Greuze (French, 1725-1805) The Game of Morra, 1756
Drawings have been a playground for both observation and invention. Greuze uses pen with brown and gray ink to map out the structure of a multifigure scene.

All the classic drawing techniques are represented, including pencil, charcoal, pastel, pen-and-ink. Some drawings are enhanced with watercolor and gouache.

Hubert Robert, Roman View with Horseman Passing through the Artch of Titus, 1761
Hubert Robert, a specialist in picturesque ruins, uses red chalk to draw this arch in ancient Rome, before the Forum was excavated.

There are a few sketchbooks displayed in glass cases, including this one by Edgar Degas. The book was a gift of a friend for the artist to use during the conversations after dinner. The sketches on this page include quick portraits of the dinner guests, and it looks like a kid drew a house on the page first.

If you've never been to the Clark, it's well worth it for their permanent collection alone, which includes cream-of-the-crop Sargent, Gérôme, Bouguereau, and Alma Tadema.
"Drawn to Greatness: Master Drawings" contains 150 drawings from the Thaw Collection, Morgan Library & Museum, New York. It will be on view through April 22, 2018 at the The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts


Gary said...

I noticed that the featured drawing by Jean-Baptiste Greuze uses a warm/cool approach. I can not see if there is, or should be, a rational for when a warm or cool tone is used. I believe that this approach brings life to a drawing but do not understand how to best apply it.

Don Ketchek said...

The Clark is a wonderful art museum. For those who have never been there, or possibly never even heard of it, it is a treasure. James Gurney has mentioned some of the fine artists whose paintings are displayed there, but failed to mention that the Clark may have the best collection of Renoirs in the world. Also some very nice Monets. Though I live about a 5 hour drive away, I had never heard of the Clark until I was around 40 years old and saw a small notice for a Renoir exhibit in the 1990's. Now it is one of my favorite places to go.

rock995 said...

Loved Hubert Robert ever since the critics rendered him sentimental and something to be overlooked. That was a long time ago and his wistful paintings still act as a momentary refuge from the edginess of everyday life.

My Pen Name said...

The Clark's collection of Sargents is unmatched -the Dumas portrait, AmberGris....the vention paintings

The 'renovation' was a curious and odd waste of money that no one seems to like.

Concerning sketchbooks- in the book Strapless about Sargent painting Madame X, the author alluded to a sketchbook that was kept in a restaurant near where the salon was held - all the artists would hang that there during the salon and sometimes they forgot their own sketchbooks so used that one -so these fabled sketchbooks are filled with degas, Gerome, sargent, etc..

I wonder if they are still in existence.

Jim Douglas said...

Replying to Gary: I would also love a good explanation of the warm/cool approach (especially a trusted one from James Gurney). Obviously the value must be correct, but how does one decide to use a warm or cool color? Is it based on local color of the object? Is it based on light vs shadow? Is it based on a combination of both? If so, which trumps the other when they conflict? That is, what color should be used to depict a cool shadow on a red ball? What elements are portrayed as gray (an even mix of warm & cool) within a picture?

It's worth figuring out, because it's amazing how much "color" can be achieved with just Burnt Sienna (warm) & Ultramarine Blue (cool).

Mr. Gurney discussed some of this in a post titled "Limited Palettes" from 2008:

scottT said...

While we wait for a more trusted explanation, in a situation where the palette consists of a warm brown and cool gray (or Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue, which is a great combo), their use does relate more to light vs shadow than local color.

It's a matter of the temperature (color) of the light source. In general, if the light source is warm, then the shadows will be cool. The opposite is also true...if the light source is cool, the shadows will be warm.

This can be easily seen in the Greuze wash drawing. The forms facing the light are warm (sepia tones) and the relatively cooler gray is used in the shadows. The mixing of these in various measure can create half tones between warm and cool.

James Gurney said...

Gary and Jim, The way I think of warm and cool is that I'm basically doing a value study, but just taking the first step toward color. You might choose to the warm color to suggest an area lit by a warm light source, as Scott suggests, or you might use it to suggest a warm local color lit by a balanced light. If this is a study for a later piece that you intend to do with full color, the warm and cool study starts to give you an impression of what the final will feel like. But the limitations of chroma and hue choices keeps you from straying too far from making primarily value-oriented decisions. It's very similar to the way composers will work things out on the piano and then work their way up to a fuller orchestra.

But of course a simple warm and cool palette can also serve well an approach for finished works, and many painters of the past sought after the muted harmonies of warm and cool for their severity or austerity.

Rock995. Who even read art critics anymore? The art world has been remade by and for artists themselves.