Reflections on Assignment 4

In tutor feedback from part 4 of the course my tutor suggested that I look at a number of artists.  She suggested that I should try to develop more confidence in handling media, especially with more dynamic/ aggressive mark-making.  To highlight what she meant by this she pointed me towards Tracy Emin and Richard Hamilton’s work.  I had already looked at Richard Hamilton’s work whilst carrying out research for part four Research Point- Energy in drawings.  I can see her point, as both of these artists produce works that contain a huge amount of energy.

Tracey Emin works in a wide range of media including painting, drawing, film, photography, sewn appliqué, sculpture and neon text. Her art is primarily expressionistic, a cypher for memories and emotions that can be frank and poetic, intimate and universal.  Using her own experience – and frequently her own body – as source material for the work, she explores ideas of self-portraiture and narrative disclosure, both intimately bound up with her own biography. She grew up in the seaside resort of Margate and her work often refers to traumatic episodes from her childhood  in a unique form of confessional art that often deeply resonates with her audience.

tracy-emin-2005-i-think-of-you-all-the-time

Tracy Emin- I Think of you All the time, 2015, Acrylic on canvas

This picture is radiates a sense of frenetic freedom in the application of paint on the canvas, whilst still managing to capture a sense of its subject and  accurate physical proportions.

German artist Kathe Kollwitz began her career as a painter until, inspired by the prints of Max Klinger, she began creating etchings, lithographs and woodcuts, eventually abandoning painting for graphics. She is an inspiring example of an artist whose content and technique merge to create deeply affecting works of art. Her weighty subject matter is made only more potent by the way in which she chooses to render her images.

Her subjects were “rough” as well, often drawn from the poor and downtrodden in Berlin, who her husband attended as a doctor. She remained committed to pacifist and socialist ideals throughout her career. Much of her early work in particular was shaped by the death of one of her sons in the First World War.

kathe-kollwitz-woman-with-dead-child-1903
Mother with dead child- 1903

In the drawing above, the way in which it is rendered underscores a moment of terrible anguish. The features of the child’s face are just barely visible, almost as though they become less solid and more ghostly by the minute. The softly rendered, quiet areas of the drawing are juxtaposed with areas of urgent, scratch-like hatch marks, creating tension and a sense of desperation.

Käthe explored the human condition not only by connecting with and depicting those around her, but through a life-long practice of self-portraiture as well. Her intimate self-study resulted in over 100 self-portraits between her early formative years and her death in 1945. She often depicted herself in isolation, the surrounding white of the paper becoming a kind of abyss. Kollwitz had the rare ability to communicate visceral aspects of her inner life through her outward appearance, leaving the viewer with a vivid impression of her state of mind. Looking at her self-portraits, we catch intimate glances of her awareness of mortality, her commitment to depicting the social injustices around her, her strength and her compassion.

Her use of harsh lines and intense marks somehow lift the images from mere depictions of an image to pictures radiating a deep sense of emotion and intensity.  This is all the greater for her use of a monochromatic palette and the lack of a background in which to contextualise the image.

Further artists to look at regarding line making is Henry Moore.  I already did some research on his sheep drawings Henry Moore- Sheep Drawings, but I wanted to look further at his work following my tutor’s recommendation.  He

During World War II Moore was asked by the War Artists Advisory Committee to document life on the home front. He drew people sheltering in bomb shelters in London underground stations. These drawings, along with those he made later in the coalmines, are considered among his greatest achievements.  The picture lacks detail of individual faces and limbs, but radiates a strong sense of the crowded gloomy conditions in a tube station during an air raid.

Shelterers in the Tube 1941 by Henry Moore OM, CH 1898-1986
Shelterers in the Tube 1941 Henry Moore OM, CH 1898-1986 Presented by the War Artists Advisory Committee 1946 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N05712

henry-moore-recto-heads-fish-and-standing-figure-1950-1951

Henry Moore- Heads, Fish and Standing Figure, 1950—1951 ( Pencil, wax crayon, coloured crayon, chalk and watercolour wash )

I love the loose marks in this page from Henry Moore’s sketchbook.

henry-moore-the-artists-hands-1974
Henry Moore- the artist’s hands 1974

The looseness and delicacy of the marks in Henry Moore’s hand pictures are beautiful  You can almost reach out and expect the picture to have 3D form.  At the same time, he doesn’t about over detail- giving the viewer just enough to fill in any blanks .

Throughout his career, Moore utilised a wide range of techniques and media, such as line drawing and cross-hatching, gouache, chalk and crayon, to bring two-dimensional forms to life, creating impressions of movement and radiance and carving human forms from a sheet of paper in a similar fashion to the way in which he carved expressive forms from slabs of stone. With these works on paper, Moore was not drawing simply as an exercise. Instead, the artist was drawing for ‘the pleasure of looking more intently and intensely’, emphasising that these works on paper are not simply sketches, but instead illustrate important stages in Moore’s development as a draughtsman and sculptor.

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