Louvre (Day 178/365)

Today we went to the Louvre exhibit at the High Museum. It was the first time we’ve been to the High since they’ve added the new buildings, which is bad of us. Very spectacular spaces, indeed.

As usual when faced with the products of Versailles/Louvre, I am overwhelmed by the sheer volume of commitment represented: talent, work hours, materials. The amount of money involved, I suspect, was not as vast as you might think, because the artists and artisans who created these things were not well paid, except for the stars.

The first floor gallery was devoted to drawings from the kings’ collections. Drawing was not the art form it became later, because it’s a personal art form, just the artist and the pencil, then just the viewer and the paper. Most of these drawings were sketches or studies for more public works: portraits, murals, etc.

The thing that fascinated me most about these works was the draftsmanship. Unlike many recent works on paper, these drawings were not about the surface of the paper. You rarely thought about the line qua line, or masses of color vis á vis the edge of the surface. Instead, you see a shoulder, a chest, a calf, a face, and you truly have to force yourself to see lines of chalk at all. And I tried. I tried to reduce the drawing to chalk-on-paper, but I couldn’t. I tried to see areas of light and dark, but all I could see was perfectly formed musculature. This never ceases to amaze me.

It also reminded me that I must create a visual for Wednesday night’s workshop, some moment from Sun & Moon Circus.

2 thoughts on “Louvre (Day 178/365)

  1. Another bit of evidence for the idea that sculpting, not painting, is the “first” visual art. In those drawings it was truly the art of making the three-dimensional form appear through various kinds of two-dimensional mis-directions. That’s related to the odd frustrations I’ve been having as I’ve tried to develop a drawing habit for our work on Wm. Blake. Sometimes I think, “Every act of outlining is an admission of failure.” Or, “Now I’m practicing to be a cartoonist…” And then I’m led to the equally miserable situation of sketching and “outlining” furiously with pencil till I feel “safe” and then trying to use ink and wash to disguise the lines and make seem “line-less.” Just something available to natural perception. In a nutshell, How do you put down a line that is not perceived as a line?

    And why in this work am I stumbling over that? There are many ways of doing visual work and visual thinking that are unapoligetically two-dimensional…

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