Thursday, 1 March 2012

Assignment 5 - research - David, Ingres, Degas

The brief asks to look at the work of Ingres, David and Degas to examine their linear elements. I am very familiar with Ingres and David as I studied French Neoclassical painters in high school. Even though it was such a long time ago I remember being so impressed with the way they painted the human form. This was probably when I first discovered my love of figurative art. A few years later, I was very lucky to go to the Louvre to see these paintings and was in awe at the size of them and the amount of work that had gone into these highly rendered paintings.

Jaques-Louis David (1748 - 1825)

He was thought to be one of the most important painters of the French Neoclassical era. He was influenced with the Italian masters, particularly Raphael and he wanted to participate in the Classical revival that was occurring at the time. His work shows how he believed that simplicity of line was central to the classical ideal in drawing.

David - The Oath of the Horatii (1784-85) 329 x 424cm

Later he became involved with political events and was a supporter of the attack against Louis XVI and the French Revolution. His paintings became propaganda for this cause.

David -Sketch for Oath of the Tennis Court (1789) 101x66cm
The sketch above was a depiction of an oath taken by the National Assembly which was performed in a makeshift conference room inside a tennis court. It signified the first time that French citizens formally stood in opposition to Louis XVI.

David - Death of Marat (1793) 165 x 128cm
Marat, a friend of David and member of the National Assembly was murdered in his bath and this, one of his most famous paintings has been called the Pietà of the revolution and created a political martyr in Marat.

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres 1780 - 1867

Ingres was also a French Neoclassical painter and a staunch advocate of the classical style. He was very resistant to the emerging popularity of the romantic movement. He studied with David in Paris.

Inges - Le Grande Odalisque 1814

Degas (1834–1917)

Degas met Ingres, whom he revered, and whose advice he never forgot: "Draw lines, young man, and still more lines, both from life and from memory, and you will become a good artist."

He is most well known for his fascination with picturing movement and paintings of ballet dancers. He is also one of the first artist to use photography as a tool in his art. He is often called an impressionist painter but this is a label he rejected as he felt he did not work spontaneously and would criticise those artists working en plein air.

The Dance Class (La Classe de Danse),1873–1876, oil on canvas,
La Toilette (Woman Combing Her Hair), c. 1884–1886, pastel on paper

Looking at all of these artists and their drawings it is possible to see the importance of line for these artists through the very simplicity of the contours.

David Drawings

Ingres Drawings

Degas drawings

Degas is much looser than the others but his absolute importance of obtaining the accurate contours of the human figure is clear. 

In order to show the difference I looked out a couple of drawings from other artists for which line was less important that form. Seurat was fascinated with tonal differences and his drawings contained few lines. Van Gogh was interested in texture and technique and Matisse's painting below shows his interest in tone and colour. 
Van Gogh - Portrait of Joseph Roulin

Seurat - Artist's Mother 
Andre Derain by Matisse 1905 oil 55x47cm

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