Thursday, April 17, 2008
Gustav Klimt is a particular favorite of mine....and lots of others I am certain!! His style of representation is quite unique and very appealing. His "view" in his landscapes and his use of color are, I think, timeless. His female figures are much the same, to me at least. (Maybe that is as much about his approach with line in the figures as his use of color is in landscapes.) The figures have a contemporary feel; some of course are dated by hairstyle and dress.
My work with portraits and figures, if I can be objective, is frenetic by comparison; it is often more about removing marks/lines than careful, thoughtful placement. Klimt's work seems to reveal an immediate, thorough understanding of his subject as revealed in his outline of shape, contour.
So, I wondered if I could get into his mind a bit if I tried to copy a few of his "simpler" pieces. What you find here are some of my attempts, done in my sketchbook, with reference to a small volume of drawings and paintings edited by Alice Strobol and first published in 1962.
I found his approach as alien to mine, entirely! He must have had a flat view of the figure (actually, many of his landscapes seem as a "thin" view of his field of vision, too) and when I approach a portrait or figure from life I want to obtain some depth and weight; my understanding (intuition) of the body is to place a curve/contour to grasp the subject's depth, physical and otherwise.
I've done my best to place the Klimt original within easy reference to my attempt and I've certainly felt no compunction to avoid color on my ersatz work. (I enjoy the word "ersatz" and can remember distinctly my first encounter with it. I'd written a letter to George Higgins, lawyer and author, when I was just out of law school and in his reply he chastised me for what he called a "bad" ersatz of his work in several paragraphs of my letter; bet Klimt would have had a similar response!!)
Anyway, I thought the exercise was one I'd like to continue; understanding your own visual work can be enhanced through copying the work of others.