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For this assignment, we had the choice between different options such as Landscape, figures, outdoors, still life, etc…

I did a lot of drafts in different medias (pencil, grey pencil, watercolour). Indeed, I did really not know what to do. I used all of kind of paper as I was just drawing different ideas, some modern, some in old style, some in colour, some in black only, before finally choosing to do a nude in pastel….see “drawing 1 – assignment 5 – option 4 – drawing figure” :

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I did the one above two times….as I thought it was maybe an idea….

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Above : Pure invention

 

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Georges Stubbs (1724-1860)

Mediums: Oil and pencil
Subjects: Horses, mainly dogs but others animals as well, hunting scene
Art Movement: RomanticisM
influence: Anatomy ….
Hometown: United Kingdom

Amazing…..it’s the first word that came to my mind!!

Stubbs who was called “Mr Stubbs the horse painter”, has been underestimated for a very long time but now, he’s recognized as equal of his contemporaries such as Gainsborough and Reynolds.

Stubbs is just unique whether the subject is a mare and her foal….

a monkey, a poodle or even when painting a portrait but where he’s remarkable is in the anatomy of a horse…

George Stubbs studied the anatomy of horses from 1756 to 1758 in Lincolnshire and executed designs for a book on horse anatomy, published in 1766 and which he himself engraved boards. It is said that his work is among the most accurate ever painted…

And I believe it !

Stubbs studied first horses anatomy to, then, draw horses in a surgical precision …. his work is well beyond the mere fact of painting an animal, a person or whatever. Indeed, these paintings are deeply detailed, in a surgical precision, his brushstrokes are like scalpels that sculpt the subject…. I would not be surprised, in our time, only “photoshop” could reproduce a subject with such a precision…

I deeply admire the work, the passion, the sweet curves…

It’s true that Gainsborough, Reynolds, John Everett Millais are as welll among the same category of painters but not so deeply surgically precise…..I guess that before the camera or the X-ray, it was the only possibility to have a correct reproduction.

Only for the pleasure to see Stubbs’ work, below some paintings…

Ben Nicholson (1894-1982)

Medium: Nicholson sometimes uses the technique of aquatint, the highlight of pencil or ink directly on events, often working with copper formats and not straight, irregular angles. He used as well oil, wash

Subjects : Still life, landscape, Abstract

Art mouvement: cubism, geometric

Influences : Cézanne , Picasso, Braque, Brancusi, Hans (Jean)Arp, Mondrian and Moholy-Nagy

Hometown : United Kingdom, he spent 1912 to 1914 in France and Italy, and was in the United States in 1917-18 and around three years in Switzerland

Ben Nicholson with his second wife, sculptor Barbara Hepworth

Ben Nicholson, a well-known British abstract painter, was born in Denham, Buckinghamshire. Both his parents were painters. His father was the painter Sir William Nicholson. The family moved to London in 1896. Ben Nicholson attended the Slade School of Fine Art in London in 1910 – 11. Then, between 1911 and 1914 he traveled through Europe, including Madeira for reasons of health (suffered from asthma). During the First World War he was exempted from military service owing to ill health.

In 1917, he travelled to New York for an operation on his tonsils. He returned to England in 1918.

Nicholson had three wives :

From 1920 to 1938 he was married to the painter Winifred Nicholson by whom he had three children: Jake (1927), Kate (1929) and Andrew (1931). They lived, between 1920-24, in Cumberland and London during winters the family moved to Castagnola in Switzerland.

From 1938 to 1951, he was married to Barbara Hepworth who Studied sculpture at the Royal College of Art, London . In 1951 Nicholson and Hepworth divorced.

In 1957, the third and final marriage of Nicholson was with Felicitas Vogler, a German photographer.

It said that he was influenced by his wives mainly Barbara Hepworth.

In 1968 Nicholson was awarded the Order of Merit by Queen Elizabeth.

In 1977, Nicholson and  Barbara Hepworthhey divorced

February 6, 1982, Ben Nicholson died in London and was cremated at Golders Green cemetery.

Nicholson, lived his entire life surrounded by artists, his father, mother, brother, wives. At first he was influenced by Cézanne, Picasso, Braque and started with a boundless passion in making still lifes and landscapes. He then quickly had a very strong tendency to geometric and cubic forms (geometrical still life). I can say that Nicholson’s works are often at the limit of abstraction and figuration as shown in the Oeuvre Cornish landscape below.

As said. he’s first influenced by cubic but over the time, his work will definitively be oriented towards  the abstract and geometric forms. As we can observe in his painting “St Ives”, below,

Nicholson did few versions of “St-Yves” during his stay over there…

Indeed, it’s a mix between soft and hard square forms and his meeting with Piet Mondrian has had an undeniably deep influence in his style of painting.

In 1933, Nicholson started his collection “Relief” and first painted without the use of color and in a fairly austere, minimalist and purism way.

He will, later, in the same collection, add the color and paint exceptional works..

I am particularly attracted by Ben Nicholson. Indeed, I really appreciate the purism, the absence of color and the geometrical forms. It’s clean, clear…..like the print “Two goblets and a mug – 1967”

During the last Christie’s auction, Thursday 27 september, the paintingViolon et guitare – 1933, was sold for 3,3 MEuros.

Lucian Freud (1922 – 2011) Mediums: Oil, charcoal, pastel, conté, pen and ink, crayon, etching, watercolor Subjects: Nude Art Movement: Figuratif Hometown: London, United Kingdom

Autoportrait 1985

The life of Lucian Freud,  who was considered as one of the most important contemporary figurative painters of the last century,  is as deep as his paintings……Born in Berlin, the grandson of Sigmund Freud moved to England at the age of ten. Freud studied at Central School of Art and then at the East Anglian School of Painting. He began his career as a painter during the Second World War in England and his first one-man exhibition was at the Lefevre Gallery in 1944 where one of his first painting  “the  painter’s room – 1944” was exposed. In 1951 Freud won the Arts Council prize at the Festival of Britain and in 1954 his work was shown in the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. It’s during the sixties that his style became what everyone knows today which is to say,  large paintings of naked flesh painted with multiple tones colors. Lucian Freud had as well the chance to meet great other painters such as Francis Bacon, Picasso or Giacometti.

As said, Freud has a “softer” period before starting painting nudes. Between 1940 and 1960, he painted in a more “classical” style. His painting is sober, soft, smooth, almost naïve !

       

“Landscape with Birds”

1940

   

“The  painter’s   room”

1944

   

“Woman with Tulip”

1945

   

“Dead Heron”

1945

   

“Portrait of a Man (John Craxton)”

1946

        

“Girl in a Blanket”

1953

Freud said that he was in a period of “maximum observation” by “staring at my subject matter and examining it closely”. From 1954, Freud would have said that he wanted to be totally “free myself from this way of working”.

Who could have detected in these paintings the future painter of nude and injury bodies??  But when you look at it, you can see :

  • Table
  • Green plant
  • Animals
  • Sofa
  • Room
  • Portrait

They already have the elements that we will found in his forthcoming paintings….Indeed, Freud used to paint women under plants or trees, women or men with animals (mostly dogs) and on a sofa, a bed or a chair and he quite often painted in his studio, with a very minimalist décor.

    Freud is definitively a portraitist of the human being and animal. With the painting

“Girl with a white dog”

1951

we can observe both, a portrait and a dog but both of them are painted with the same depth, reality and detailed.

The features are fine, precise, deep,  the sweet dog is calm and comfortable in total harmony with his mistress.

When he started to paint nude, his style moved to another style and became more “raw and rough”. The bodies are offered without any compromises and can be, sometimes, very exhibitionist and at this period, his painting started to be noticed as Freud went against the standard forms – nice, pure and beautiful – to let appear a “truth” which can sometimes be very disturbing. Freud used a limited palette of colors more in gray and brown, almost cadaveric colors, and if you carefully look at the painting, we can say that he used the technique of the wheelbase to highlight the defects.

In many of his portraits, which are for most of them friends, wife and even his children, there is a protrusion of flesh, a too much skin which is not always appetizing.  Indeed, his painting is deeply violent in its realism, thicker, cold and sometimes can give a very strange impression of overexposed distorted body. The bodies are not always in their best profile. Their intimacy is delivered on a silver plate, the fleshes are made through a scalpel and have no real aesthetic. As in many of his works, Freud is integer, too intense for some, not disturbing for others. Indeed, the crudeness of his portraits, the vulgarity of poses, the intervention of animals or the use of artificial light to incite deformities carefully chosen by Freud can fascinate or on the contrary can provoke a certain discomfort.

One think is very surprising is the number of paintings which are representing male nudes. Indeed, women were the rule and again Freud went against the dictatorship that only a woman could be painted naked!

Lucian Freud repeats his motto ever since : “I want the painting to be flesh” ! and it’s what he did!

       

“Naked Man with a rat”

1978

A man and an animal !

   

”Blonde Girl on a Bed”

1987

The   position of this body is “offensive” and hurts. It has little sweetness!

      

“Leigh under the skylight”

1994

The man on its pedestal shows all the   defects of a human being and represents all but an “Apollo”. The   representation of Leigh is simply “human” with all its   imperfections, cruelties and deformities that sometimes the human bodies can   let appear !

   

“Sleeping by the Lion Carpet”

1995-96

Here we have an abundance of flesh ….

   

“David and Eli”

2004

Once again a man and a dog. Dogs are often   represented lying quietly to / on their master, as they vowed their total devotion

   

“Benefits Supervisor Sleeping II”

1995

Here again an impressive mass of flesh almost put on show

       

“Benefits Supervisor Sleeping”

1995

The muse obese Sue Tilley – known   as Big Sue (sold for more than $33 mio)

This is the period where Freud  painted “what I see, not what you want me to see !”

What is quite surprising in the representation of naked bodies. Indeed they are without any frills and they do not look like perfect body such as we can see in magazines for decades now ! It could be everyone !

The artist used to say: “to represent yourself, you should try to paint as if it were someone else. In the self-portrait, likeness is something else. I have to paint what I feel without falling into expressionism. ”

Lucian Freud was as well famous for having painted in 2001, amongst other famous people such as Kate Moss when she was pregnant, the Baron Thyssen, David Hockney, the transformist Leigh Bowery and Sue Tilley, the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on the occasion of his jubilee. This painting was, of course, deeply controversial in Britain.

Indeed, It seems that it was decided after much discussion that it would happen in one of the palaces of the queen. It lasted from May 2000 to December 2001. Freud asked the queen to pose with his crown and he chose to paint a small size on which the head front view size occupied the entire surface of the table. As usual Freud used his usual colors (cadaveric) and made no gift to the Queen…Indeed, it has no finesse, the features are rather heavy, we can see dark circles and can guess a double chin ….Of course the painting caused a scandal in Great Britain.

Lucien Freud died in July 2011