Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Exhibition of Unfinished Art

Juan Ramirez assembled this chart of unfinished heads by John Singer Sargent. These are arranged from least finished at the beginning to mostly finished at the bottom.

It's amazing how quickly he arrived at the basic statement of the character. Within the first five minutes, he had the head shape, the hair, the background, and the spots for features.

Anton Raphael Mengs (1728-1779). Portrait of Mariana de Silva 
y Sarmiento, duquesa de Huescar
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, in its new Breuer space, opened a new exhibit called Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible on March 18.

There are than190 works dating from the Renaissance to the present. About 40 percent of them come from The Met’s collection. The show includes work that was interrupted before completion, as well as non-finito artwork, art that was intentionally left uncompleted.

Thanks, Juan Ramirez
Previously: Non Finito


Michael Dooney said...

We all know that there are tons of reasons things are not completed. But I think that there is a difference between work that is incomplete and work that is not rendered to the artist's fullest degree. When I look at most of those Sargent examples it appears to me that he took them just as far as he wanted to go to capture the light or color or form with out investing the rest of the manual labor to polish them up to "complete" paintings.

jeff jordan said...

Might you know who did the more 17th-18th century portrait below the Sargents?

Mark Heng said...

Anton Raphael Mengs (1728-1779). Portrait of Mariana de Silva y Sarmiento, duquesa de Huescar.

Hahaa! If I didn't know from reading the post, I would have just assumed it was a piece of postmodern contemporary art!

James Gurney said...

Jeff, that's Anton Raphael Mengs (1728-1779). Portrait of Mariana de Silva y Sarmiento, duquesa de Huescar .

Yes, it's hard to say which of those Sargent regarded as finished, or for that matter presentable. He lived during the time that Impressionist works were criticized for their lack of finish. In our day we've made something of a fetish of sketchy surfaces, perhaps because they give the feeling of the energy and mystery of creation. I like to think less in terms of "finish" than of how much you can convey about a subject in a given amount of time, and I love some art with a highly polished surface as well as work that's loose and wild.

Gavin said...

I love unfinished work, it's one of the best ways of trying to get into the mindset of the artist, and personally I quite like works that aren't too refined, or have some area of abstraction. There's a painting by John Singer Sargent called 'The Birthday Party', and the figure in the background takes up quite a large section of the canvas, yet the face has no eyes, just these vague eye sockets. Almost any other artist would have suggested more.

Mel Gibsokarton said...

So, non-finito, a genre of art, which completeness lie in its uncompleteness?

Gayle said...

Thrilled to have found an official name for my artwork!

Jared Cullum said...

Fascinating. I'd love to check it out

Chris James said...

Any unfinished Hals laying around the internet?