Thursday, June 2, 2011

Reprise of the "repoussoir"

On March 19, I had written about Hiroshige, the artists he inspired, and the close-up, the clipped edge, becoming, in a painting, a demonstration of time passing.... in his book, Mirror of the World (see my post from two days ago), Julian Bell also discusses the Hokusai and Hiroshige influences upon mid- to late-nineteenth-century European art.  Bell calls this repoussoir "succinct" and 'witty" and quotes Edgar Degas's notebook: "Cut things a lot. For a dancer do either the arms or the legs .... Do all kinds of common objects, so arranged and contextualized that they have the life of men and women .... No-one has ever done monuments or houses seen from low down, from beneath, close to, as one see them passing in the streets." And Bell places Degas's memo to self next to a lovely work, "Place de La Concorde" (343).

I think these Degas-ian notes would make an excellent assignment for my next sketch. So I will work on that! But, in the meantime, I found two photographs and cropped them, and they do take on both a time-sense and the closeness of a human face, I think. The first is a newly-cropped close-up from the Canyon de Chelly, the second a cropped photo of a tree in Carmel-by-the-Sea:

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