We learn by doing.
This week I learned by doing. The new artwork at the bottom of this blog, Hands Duet (Study) by Da Vinci & Wasserman, is the result of that “doing”, which was inspired by art, including works by Picasso, Warhol and Basquiat, plus a special musical duet
In previous centuries students learned to write (compose in English) by copying the writings of recognized authors. I remember reading that in the USA it was especially popular for students to copy the writings of Ben Franklin.
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” — Ben Franklin
As an art student my class was assigned to take a well known painting and create an illustrated report about the work, how it came to be, its development, etc. The illustrations had to be hand-drawn, not photocopied, however we were allowed to use tracings. We had a few days to think about what work we would select, and I chose Gurenica because it is large and would at least give me many elements to use for illustrations, plus it is gray-scale, which challenges me as myteacher(s) and I know that my personal strong suit is color. It would have been far too obvious and easy for me to have selected a work by Monet, van Gogh or Matisse.
In New York City the public library with greatest selection of art reference materials was the now closed Donnell, located not far from MOMA (and Guernica was then visiting MOMA). At the library I discover a treasure trove of information in reference books on Guernica. Picasso had made many sketches and paintings as he experimented with figures that he used to populate Guernica.
The one that fascinated me then and continues to live hauntingly in the memory behind my eyes is the figure know as the Weeping Woman. Ironically, Dora Maar, the model for Weeping Woman, also photographed the stages and progress of Guenica, providing me with so much material.
I spent many afternoons in the library meticulously tracing Picasso’s drawings and paintings, especially the variations of the Weeping Woman.
Although I never met Picasso in person (although I later learned my my teacher, Bertram Katz had), yet more than any class I have ever taken, Picasso taught me how to draw. It was a masterclass on how to draw, and how to plan out a great work of art, conducted by Picasso in library and then at MoMA as after the tracing sessions I would head to MoMA to closely examine and compare the sections of Guernica to the tracings of preliminary sketches I held in my hands.
Since that assignment I have traced drawings by other great artists because it helped me learn. Except for the Guernica report that I have kept, the tracings went into the trash, having accomplished their purpose.
When I decided to create my own Essence Portraits of various artists, no longer tracing, but drawing and painting following the Post Conceptual tenets of UnGraven Image (symbols as strokes) it was natural for me to turn to the self portraits of Rembrandt, Da Vinci, Monet and van Gogh (and coming soon Cezanne).
Recently, I realized that I have been blessed with another benefit from the Guennica assignment, I am very comfortable “working” with great artists.
Other Contemporary and Modern artists have appropriated works or parts of works by renowned artists, or unrecognized designers of commercial products, such as Brillo boxes or the Marlboro Man. Famously, Andy Warhol appropriated Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and in his latter The Last Supper paintings, which he made very much his own.
Thanks to modern technology, iconic actors and singers are reappearing in new works musical works and commercials as their images and music are combined with new ones. My favorite, and the inspiration for my new art series, is a duet of the now adult Natalie Cole her father Nat King Cole singing “Unforgettable”.
A few years ago, when I first saw the new “Unforgettable” video, I thought it would be lovely to be able to accomplish the same thing in art, a duet that does not appropriate a work into something totally different of my own, but instead harmonizes, works with another great artist to create our new work while I manage to acknowledge the “parental” inspiration of the other artist. The only paintings that I can think of that managed to successfully be duets, where the clear voices of two different artists were clearly seen, without one overshadowing the other are the ones from Warhol and Basquiat, but they were both alive at the time.
This is the second Duet work in the series. It is a study that began as an accident as I forgot to set the fine art printer to black only — and it produced the Da Vinci drawing of hands (altered from the original sketches to just show the hands against a white background) in sepia and umber. It was late in the day, and rather than print a new black and white version, I began to kind of “trace”, in Post Conceptual UnGraven Image style, some of the darer area is black. I used the letters of Deuteronomy 6 for the strokes because I had a print out of it at hand from the Essence Portrait I had just created with that text. I was just fooling around, tracing Da Vinci’s shapes and lines by using Torah font letters as my strokes.
In the spirit of the Duets idea, I added the blue to the sleeves. That had appeal so I continued on with another archival pigment ink pen that claims to be pure brown, but is more orange-sepia to me. Whatever, the color works here.
From Picasso and other artists I learned to call a smaller work “Study” to indicate that the artist is not really sure where this is going, is experimenting, and in not way wants this work credited as a major one. Certainly for Da Vinci this comes from a sketch, not a finished drawing.
Hands Duet (study) by Leonardo Da Vinci and Judy Rey Wasserman
Wasserman’s strokes are the Torah font letters of Deuteronomy 6
See previous blog posts and images about Leonardo Da Vinci and Picasso by Judy Rey Wasserman
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Judy Rey Wasserman is an artist and the founder of Post Conceptual Art theory and also the branch known as UnGraven Image Art at ungravenimage.com.
Check out the Fine Art Limited Edition prints, decorative prints, books, and printables that are currently available to you through Judy Rey’s Art of Seeing The Divine Shop. You don’t have to buy to avail yourself of the art and inspiration available there. However, if you select to collect investment quality archival art, or decorate your home with images created with strokes that are original letters from Bible texts, or buy a gift for someone special, there is a secure shopping cart that accepts most credit cards so your purchase is easy to accomplish. https://artofseeingthedivine.com,