I have been house cleaning. As some of you know, I do this at least once every decade. I find the most amazing things.
While I was rummaging through boxes of stuff, I came upon an art brochure advertising dealers in “master drawings.” One of the dealers advertised itself with a portrait drawing by an artist I’ve never heard of Vincenzo Gemito (1852-1929). And — I dunno — something about the directness of the drawing just bowled me over. It’s so incisive. The artist has wanted to catch every element of the figure, of each form. A shoulder is as good as a strand of hair for this guy. And all of it, he seems to find marvellous.
Aren’t human beings pretty wonderful? And in all their forms, in every ordinary particular, so wonderous to contemplate.
Okay, it’s not what we typically think while standing in line at the Motor Vehicle Administration (as Seinfeld so aptly noted). But when you feel this wonderment, you should go for it. That’s what I think.
The drawing at the top is not the one I saw. I’m finding other works by Gemito on the internet. But this drawing is pretty wonderful too.
UPDATE: I found this catalog of Vincenzo Gemito Drawings on line here.
Perhaps because paper was once in short supply, we note that the old masters drew on their rare pages with more joyful abandon than is typical of artists today. And they were more thrifty. Often a page of old master drawings will have several subjects on the same page, and they will not necessarily have anything to do with each other. Often they are at right angles to each other. And sometimes artists (like Ingres or Rubens) would even put more than the correct number of limbs on their figures — all presumably in the interest of deciding what the pose should be. Four armed ladies? Let’s not go there. Save that for another occasion.
In our era of anything goes, it’s interesting that this conceit — this putting lots of things onto the same page hasn’t caught on as a revivified trend. Heck, a lot of artists could do it and suppose that they were inventing something brand new (the ones who have not studied history, that is).
Besides things that happen to rent space on the same page are the colors that halo objects. Everything in the world is colored and if you look really closely at all the color, it can drive you nuts! There is so much of it to notice. I didn’t peer too deeply in this drawing, but just enough to put some blue on top and green on the side of the marigold.
[Top of the post: Studies of Plants by Aletha Kuschan]