Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Renaissance/ Perspective

In the word "Renaissance", there is "naissance" (birth) and "Re", same "Re" as in "rediscover", "remake". The entire word means, that there was indeed a birth, but also that everything had to be "rebuild".
1 - It is in Italy that there was the "naissance" with the Romans about years zero, and even before, with the Greeks. 2 - And, it is in Italy that it is "rebuilding" in the years 1400; it is the Renaissance. The Italians call this time the "Quattrocento"; the years 1400. In French, one says: the "fifteenth century" (Quinzième siècle). XVth century begins in 1400 and finishes almost in 1500. It is quite complicated! For us, it was 600 years ago. Six hundred winters passed. (Draw a line on the blackboard, and place some dates on the scale.) In the Quattrocento Italians discover that the Romans and the Greeks knew how to do everything before them and that they should take up their ideas, therefore, "to relearn" what was forgotten, in the course of centuries, along the way… It is by excavating the ground of Rome and by reading again the old Greek and Romans books (which had more than 1500 years! Thus of a time way before Jesus-Christ)… that the Italians discover their ancestors already knew many things. This had been forgotten before the Middle Ages. It was necessary to rediscover everything. Before Renaissance it was the Middle Ages, which wasn't "Average", it was rather "Gothic", we will speak about it another time. But before Middle Ages, it was really average. Without entering too much into medieval history, it should be said that at that time, the faith in God was spectacular, as impressive as it is currently on TV when one looks at a ceremony in Lourdes, Mecca, or in the River Ganges. In the years 1400 (in the Quattrocento), loving God is very serious, but Man also starts to like himself, as a consequence he may even neglect God. The Renaissance man finds that the bodies of men, women and children are beautiful with their muscles, their curves, their sparkling eyes and their beautiful clothing. It is the painters and sculptors who will show the beauty of the bodies to everyone and it is thanks to them that today we have traces of life at this time, as painting was well preserved, and the stone sculptures are in good condition. It is necessary to go to the Louvre Museum to see all these works; the French brought so much back from Italy by paying them or by not paying them at all. But of course, there are even more paintings and sculptures of the Renaissance in Italy, in Florence, in Venice, in Rome, and in a lot of other cities… At this time the whole load of artists in each city was incredible! … A little bit like the footballers of our time. Certain painters were famous, one knows Zidane, Michel-Angel and Léonard de Vinci, but there are many others of it…, hundreds.) The "Italian Renaissance" is not only a story of paintings and sculptures; it is also a new departure in architecture, cinema, literature, poetry, sciences, everything. (… For Zidane and the cinema it is a joke, an anachronism; it will be necessary to wait five more centuries, 500 summer holidays, before seeing Charlie Chaplin and Mickey Mouse on the walls and Zidane in a stadium.)
Images of the MIDDLE AGES.
Before 1400, (a little before Renaissance) there was neither TV, neither cinema, nor photographs on the walls, only the painting which is surprising for us today. Here are three surprises: 1 - The skies are in gold. 2 - The heads of the important characters are surrounded by a plate in sheet gold which is expensive. Thus the sky is not sky blue as we know it is actually, but it is "gold" color; it is not our planet's sky, and the people living there are from another world. 3 - Third surprise, these people can have wings, they are really not from here - they are from planet Heaven … nobody ever return from there to know how it was. The painters they make as if they had been there. In fact they paint what the Pope asks them and as they have a lot of imagination, they imagine well; they paint the blue, red and yellow angels. They pile them up the ones on the others as parrots on a telegraph wire which would like all to be on the same photograph around an important man. With the Renaissance, after the 1425 (with Masaccio) sky becomes sky blue, but it has been done gradually. It is not in a day that the painters told themselves: "Starting from now we will paint the sky sky blue … Or gray if the weather is gray… It will never be again "gold" color as it is never in "gold" on earth. With gold, one will be made jewels! " But, these small changes are still little things; the Renaissance it is much more powerful than that, it is much better than to pass from gold to blue, they will invent the "perspective", it is difficult to draw, but it is great! Masaccio In the Middle Ages when one was looking at a scene painted on a wall in a church, one easily saw that it was a hard wall: Tonk! Tonk! Nobody was saying: "Wait! There are already twelve people in this room who are eating everything, if I do not hurry joining there table, I won't have anything but the crumbs. " They rather said: "these twelve fellows make me think of the apostles who ate with Jesus, I respect them." They did not even think that they were all flattened like crepes on the wall. Visitors of the church were not going to knock themselves against the wall by wanting to settle at the table, they did not even believe it a second, but it made them think about Jesus, about the Christ (Jesus or Christ, it is the same man.) And, as they were strong believers they were thirteen zémus when they think of him. "What if one did not believe?" At that time it was impossible to imagine that one can not believe in a God. In our time, one can embrace all kinds of Gods, one can even not believe in anyone, without knowing the story of Jesus, the one of Allah or Buddha, etc. As a result it's even more confusing. One should learn a little something about all these religions! When one knows nothing about it, one wonders what are twelve fellows joined together around a table doing. One cannot guess that it is Jesus' gang, one can only say: "Are they preparing some kind of shady business?" Before, during and after the Renaissance, painters continue to tell: 1 - Stories about Jesus, about his mother Marie, his friends the Apostles, who live beyond the sky (in the cloudy Paradise or the Purgatory, the waiting room). 2 - Stories about demons of the underground (the scary volcanic Hell) . 3 - But also stories about Zeus and its family which call the shots up there. Let's not speak about or it will complicate even more, nobody still believes in it, but they like it. The themes of images do not change in Europe during almost 2000 years.
Images of the RENAISSANCE.
What changes with the Renaissance, compared with the Middle Ages, is that the Saints do not float in space anymore as if they were in the air (like in a state of weightlessness); they are often posed on a cold tiling ground flanked of well arranged columns on the sides. They have a shadow at their feet; they give the impression to be real men with beautiful aureoles around the head, worn like Chinese hats. It is obvious that the characters are heavy like good-natured people made of flesh and bones; they do not give anymore the impression to be cut out of paperboard. Nevertheless, when one looks closer, one thinks the characters do not have anything in common, one would believe that they don't see each others, they ignore themselves; one could change their place, that would give the same result…, like the pieces of a chest game. At the beginning of the Renaissance, if one is observing well, one can find the same important character two or three times in the same image. The painter was making a comic strip without separating vignettes like today. When vignettes are not separated, it is necessary to know the story before in order to follow it! Otherwise one will believe there are twins or triplets in the story, (Saint Peter is present three times in "The Tribute Money" of Masaccio). Today, only few people know the History of the Saints and of Jesus, therefore one can only guess the most famous stories. But most of the time, one mixes it all up, putting off looking at images of this time. Let's try to look at a well known painting:
Renaissance Angels You see a beautiful angel all dressed up with splendid wings who makes funny hand signs to a girl occupied pretending to read. Above the girl a fluttering dove seems to go down from the sky with a gold line. Investigation report: it is a messenger of the sky coming to announce Marie that she will have a son that she will call Jesus. This story has been painted hundreds of times! Let's continue the investigation. Marie is not really happy, she never hits to the roof, she is a girl like the others, but she is O.K to be the Mom of her extremely famous son, she inclines the head and lowers the eyes. So far on can understand everything, but still! It is not really common that a messenger of the sky lands to announce the birth of a Saviour. Yes it is! Well, with Cinderella, Harry Potter, the Star Wars, one sees much more complicated things. Where it is getting confusing in this history of the young Marie, it is when in front of the door of her room, one finds a "marrow" and an "apple". Is it is difficult to understand why it is there? Renaissance Angels Yet it is simpler to admit spotting an apple and a marrow on the threshold of a door than an angel with multicolored wings hanging around in front of this door! Isn't it? At that time they knew it all why all that (the angel, the marrow and the apple) was in front of the door, One knows Eve's apple which explains the sin (the first disobedience of men). "… But for the marrow? " questions the detective. Perhaps there will be details of our time that our descendants will not understand any more. "road traffic signs" "So the marrow? " "the marrow, is to say that the Christ did not really die on the cross even after the spear jab he received deep in his heart. This vegetable placed in front of the door express that Jesus will rise from the dead even so he was not born yet. It is complex, but exact. " We may stop the investigation…
... and speak about the RENAISSANCE.
The artists of the Renaissance wondered whether geometry could help them to understand how to paint a real house, for example the one of Marie - how to draw it in volume on a flat paper. Is it that simple to draw a house which does not give the impression to be askew as with the one of the Middle Ages? It is much easier to build it with stones than to draw it on a paper sheet! Masons know how to build them in stone for a long time, but painters achieved it only at Renaissance. One could believe that it is not hard to flatten a house on the paper sheet: it is the case today, but it is because the men of the Renaissance succeeded in calculating it, since we just do like them. Let us look at the paperboard box of a television set and let us try to draw it. Try it! It is not easy… Even with a ruler, there are incorrect lines. There are mathematical laws; it is the Italian Alberti who gradually wrote the book which helped the painters, but that was not easy, the Greeks and the Romans never succeeded, they mixed up all, they racked their brain over it. 1 - However, some painters thought the problem was too irritating and prevented them from painting religiously, so they continued to flatten everything like in the Middle Ages. (Fra Angelico.) 2- On the contrary other painters did not sleep about it and tried to draw correctly with this very complicated system of rule, square, and compass. (Piero della Francesca.) Renaissance Durer
This system is called: THE PERSPECTIVE.
The word can raise fear. In Latin the word is less scary, it means: "to see through." But, it is rather "to see on paper", therefore, "seeing reality on paper". Perspective it is the way of drawing a true object (in volume) on paper (which is flat); the object appears deformed. Painters of Renaissance are geometry maniacs. They do not want to draw a guitar like Picasso, who is drawing it too quickly in spare parts over the table. But Picasso is not here yet! … In five centuries only… So let's forget him. Well, but as we are at the end of the time scale, we can know and mix up everything, and understand noting about the problems of a Renaissance painter, who was working up to draw a guitar (lute) with a compass and a set square. Let's look at a painter at work: He poses a lute on a table then he closes the door and he observes it by the keyhole with only one eye. One should not look with two eyes - it is a lucky find of the Renaissance; the painter decides his eye will be the one of the Cyclops; it is what happens when one looks in today's camera. To draw, two eyes are useless, it should be decided which one to choose, that depends if one is left or right-handed (Determining your Dominant Eye). The painter observes the musical instrument by the keyhole, but he sees only one side, he does not see it entirely, that's normal. He cannot change his place since he is behind the door. He tries to draw it such as he sees it, it is difficult. He tries to draw it "such as he sees it" and not "such as he remembers it", he is not Picasso who had fun when he was drawing. The lute is to be drawn methodically, not really fun. The Renaissance Painter needs a plumbline and a spirit level to draw what he's looking at. The painter forgot to close the window! By the small keyhole, it sees the musical instrument on the table, it also sees through the open window behind the table. He sees a large tree in the distance…, which is very small, smaller than the lute which is close to him, on the table…, he wonders why, he's going gaga. He wonders whether he is not dreaming: "It is not a Bonzai, is it? " So he draws the tree with the lute, but, on the drawing, one does not understand what they are doing together… That's perspective: "it is to look through a small hole…, and to draw." Everything is odd when one thinks about it and when one looks at it carefully. A rectangular window becomes trapezoidal, but the brain becomes use to it, it often does not even point it out to us. The painter, who draws, tries not to get trapped by his brain which corrects everything quite naturally. When he finished his painting, and he returns to his true life, his eyes slacken: Very small people are not Lilliputians anymore; they are normal people who walk in the distance.
Let us make a paper sheet magic.
Take an A4 white sheet. Ask yourself: "Can my room be on it?" Turn it in all directions. Look at a photograph of your room. It is indeed your room, but you cannot sleep inside! Renaissance Perspective One believes in photography, this small piece of paper makes you think of your room, you see a bed. You remember it is comfortable. A paper sheet can become magic if one draws his room on it. Draw three lines with the pencil (or look at the attached sketch): - First line; trace a vertical which start from the top without pressing on (at the third from the left.) - Second line; trace a horizontal (at the third from the right side starting from the bottom). Note that the two lines cross each other; erase the two ends of line in the bottom left, a rectangle remains. - Third line; draw the oblique which joint the bottom left corner of your sheet with the junction point of the horizontal and the vertical. Magic! You have just drawn the interior of a room. Large or a small room, it is as you want, it depends on the size of the door you will draw there. This is perspective! You have the illusion that your paper sheet is not any more flat like a carpet, but that it can contain objects, pieces of furniture. To make it even better, you can color the left side in dark gray and bottom in clear gray. Don't try to make tilings, you will fail! But you can learn how to do it by looking at a perspective book that speaks about it.
To test some more small things.
Inside this room, install a rectangular poster on the opposite wall: draw a rectangle. Then draw a poster on the left wall; the rectangle becomes deformed, you will have to draw a parallelogram. If you install a carpet on the ground, you will also have to draw a parallelogram; even so one knows very well that a carpet is rectangular! Install the large television box well blocked in the bottom corner. You should have only three types of line; the horizontal ones, verticals and 45 degrees lines.

Monday, October 09, 2006

L’Art nouveau is not new anymore.
The new wine arrives every year after the grape harvest, after it is not new anymore, it is wine which will mature every year and will become better. ( to drink with moderation.) The Art nouveau will be always called like this whereas it has been a long time it is finished; it makes one century that it is finished, hundred years. Did it become better? Yourself, you knew the beginning of 21st century in the year 2000. Those which knew the art nouveau lived at the beginning of the previous century, in 1900. (About when the heavy iron Eiffel tower was launched towards the sky). Thus nobody alive has known the art nouveau at the time it was manufactured. Fortunately, it remains traces of this time that one calls also Modern Style. The opposite of “modern”, is old, the opposite of “nouveau”, is ancient, it is similar. “Modern” it is like “nouveau”. It is neither nouveau nor modern when it is old. One also says “the Beautiful Time” (La Belle Époque), it is simpler to understand, but perhaps we also live a beautiful time… Then one should perhaps say 1900 style? Where can one find traces of this Beautiful modern Time 1900 of Art nouveau? One can find works of this time in certain large cities with the proviso of knowing well what one seeks and looks up. In Nancy, it is rather easy to find splendid decorations of this time right while walking, by looking at the houses and by looking up. It is necessary all the same to learn how to seek the details and the forms of this time, if not one doesn’t know what to look at. The Art nouveau likes the curves, so it is rather easy: curves should be sought. If you find a curve on a frontage, a balcony, a window, or a door, it is probably Art nouveau. If you find decorations which seem to melt like chocolate it is a house Art nouveau. , in Nancy, one says “School of Nancy” (École de Nancy). The odd frontages of houses with curves which one finds in Nancy were drawn and carved by pupils of the school of Nancy, who make Art nouveau, which has more than one century. The pupils of the school of Nancy who are adults like the sinuous lines of the plants going along the walls. They also like the flowers. The flowers are rarely square, triangular, and their stems are neither right neither parallels nor perpendiculars. It is very simple, the School of Nancy hates the geometrical forms.
They are not alone not to like the straight lines.
(1) Pyramids are triangular, the artists of Nancy did not like simple volumes like these. (2) The Greek temples, (3) the Roman temples and (4) the churches of the Renaissance do not have curves either; they are right isosceles triangles posed on parallel lines, the columns. That does not resemble a plant at all (mimicked or drawn). (5) One time ago when one carved curves in the geometrical churches. The triangles were transformed into arcs and they were decorated by spirals which one calls volutes. One called this time “Baroque”, Cigarette smoke makes splendid buckled drawings which one calls “volutes”. Smoking causes serious diseases (6) then…, the Rococo ", there were even more details twisted one in another. (7) The architects of the Gothic cathedrals liked the simple curves, the arcs of a circle; the arcs of a circle which are cut, parallel arcs of a circle. The Gothic cathedrals are very old: they are seven centuries, 700 years and they are always upright, they are only stones piled up, and that gives the impression to be lianas, the artists of the Art nouveau loved Gothic artists. It should be retained that the men who built the houses sometimes liked or hated curved lines. It is strange, there are times when one likes to live in the curves and other times; not. The artists of the art nouveau wrote in their rules:
“Nature makes very beautiful lines, it will be our single source of inspiration."
Those which built differently at that time were not artists of the Art nouveau. Their rules did not last a long time: twenty years only! Then, the vertical line and the horizontal one became the queens again until today; I.e. since about ninety years. Our time is not funny for those who like the funny lines like noodles. At that time, to make fun of Art nouveau decoration, one called it the “noodle style”. It is better to imagine spaghettis cooked without tomato sauce, but it was not so twisted all the same… Those who do not like always exaggerate. For the workmen, it was not easy to cut the hard stone so that it becomes flexible like a climbing plant. Wood is cut easily, but it was not easy for the carpenters to make windows in the shape of ferns. The window-panes could have the forms and the colors which one liked, they benefited from the molten glass when it was hot and soft a little like tart pastry. At that time, they had a lot of iron, the proof, the Eiffel tower. Then these artists used it a lot by twisting it in all the directions as beautiful large angelica which one finds in the meadows in spring. The balconies give the impression to be made of liquorice. The interior of the houses was also decorated a lot. The interior of houses Art nouveau is to be admired. The artists designed and manufactured all the must have in an apartment to live in. When one moves, in theory, one carries the pieces of furniture, its crockery, its objects of decorations… … But, when one arrive in an Art nouveau apartment all is envisaged there, even the toilet-flush, and vases for the flowers. It is pretty incredible, everything looks like each other, everything is a little soft and heavy, is melted like candles, but not spineless, the lines are energetic, like the extremity of a whip which cracks. One also called this style “the whip lash style”. In Germany, those who make fun of it called it “the tapeworm style”. (Of the name of large worm that one could have in the intestine.) There was some who really did not like the forms that make laces! Today, in European towns, it is difficult to enter inside Art nouveau houses, because people live there quietly or all has been transformed since 1900. 1 - Fortunately there are books which show us the pieces of furniture and the objects which were photographed. 2 - There are also museums which expose, the pieces of furniture well preserved, the objects and the vases. It is the case for the museum of Nancy which presents a collection of several hundreds of vases in molten glass more colored and modeled than each others. 3 - There is also in Nancy a museum in a house, all remained in place, one would believe as one returns in somebody’s who never bought anything in the supermarkets…, every object is grooved, odd, very elaborated, soft. However volumes of the rooms of this apartment did not take the shapes of the tulips which the artists liked. They remained cubic! It is a pity the architects did not make the houses in a pumpkin shape, it is a beautiful natural form to make a living room inside… In Nancy, they liked more the thistle flower, a plant that pricks, perhaps who protected them from the Germans at that time. Nancy people did not like them. They were the enemy who had settled not far from them. Many inhabitants of Nancy were people of the departments bordering which had fled “Krauts”. The two camps had just finished a war and it was going to have two more of them out there, but they did not know it yet. To insult and hate oneself often involve a war. The artists of the Art nouveau do not like the world of the large machines which took much importance at that time. They preferred the craftsmen who worked more quietly, more carefully and more delicately. It should not be forgotten that they liked nature, and not much the cities polluted by large coal factories that smoked much more than nowadays. The artists of the Art nouveau would have liked that everyone can live in the beautiful houses they built. They would have liked that everyone eats in the plates they manufactured. That in the middle of the table, there is a beautiful bunch of flowers made up in a splendid vase in molten stained glass. Did they really believe that everyone could afford that? That was expensive to carve so many details on pieces of furniture and tables! Moreover, they often used ivory, mother-of-pearl, crystal, leather, exotic wood, gold, silver, porcelain… Eventually there were only rich people (middle-class) to buy such luxury. It was rich people’s good taste of the time. The labour was expensive, it took a very long time to manufacture complicated things like: - The snails chairs (of Carlo Bugatti), - A butterfly bed encrusted with exotic wood and mother-of-pearl (of Majorelle). - The mushrooms vases (of Gallé), - The crocus vases, the fern balconies (of Gaudi), - Entries of subway in lianas (of Guimard), - A glazed corolla cupola (of Horta). So, craftsmen’s work not factory; not always! Vases and bedside lamps of Emile Gallé were so popular, he sold them so much that he made them in the assembly line of a factory so that everyone can buy some; but it is an exception. Manufactured in the assembly line these objects became less beautiful; when complicated things are made too quickly, they can look less accomplished. He sold them so much, that one decade later, everyone was disgusted, even more nobody want any, they put them in the attic. It had become a sign of bad taste for everyone. And now, there are people who like them again, the lamps. They are very beautiful lamps when they are genuine lamps of this time. The problem it is that there is not much left, therefore the stores sell some brand new one, they are even less authentic, and that will soon disgust everyone again. It is the infernal circle of the lamps Art nouveau and the snake that bites its tail. Have a drink at the Excelsior!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

.MAX ERNST will-o'-the-wisp.
The first Surrealist painting! It is difficult to have a look around the work of max Ernst (1891 /1976). If one had all his works next to each other, that would make much, and one could not know that it is the same person who did them, they are so different from each other! It is perhaps for that reason that we like Max Ernst more than other painters who never changed their painting manner over their life. Him, he changed his ways a lot, to think and to make. Max Ernst is like a flame. He is never motionless, he changes style, and he changes techniques… He is obliged to change place and to change nationality: he was born in Germany, he is expelled by the Nazis, he passes by France, he flees the Nazism while going to the United States, after the war, he becomes French. He does not have the fidgets; in fact wars drive him out. At that time, many German artists did the same. In 1921, he is the first to paints a bizarre painting (that one will call “the first surrealist painting”). He paints a funny elephant with a lid and piping. Nobody believed it is an elephant; it is rather a large pressure-cooker, or a too heavy flying saucer that could not fly. At the end of the horn there is a bull mask. It is starting from that masterly spanking that I was certain I would never have the faith again. I was 17 years old, I was a Royal marine commando parachutist, that was hardly worth better! He astonished his friends with this image that nobody had never seen in painting, he calls it “the elephant Célèbes*”, I do not know why. It would be believed that it means the celebrated elephant …, it is celebrated now, one can see it in London. (*there are some islands which one calls the Célèbes islands. That is true!) When he becomes champion of his receipt of painting, that does not interest him anymore; he invents a new manner of making art. Many of other artists always make the same thing to improve their painting… But also because they cannot make differently since they became famous with that… It is difficult to change, their admirors would not recognize them anymore. One does not easily recognize a painting of max Ernst. Max Ernst always liked to change, he often tried to make differently as if it annoyed him to start again too often.
(I do not know why max Ernst calls it like this. That would mean that it is a kind of transfer, as a flexible paper tattoo which one wants to put on the skin.) When one sees for the first time, for real, a table painted by “transfer”… It is understood well that max Ernst did not paint with a brush but with something else: a piece of paper? - “How can one paint with a bit of paper? ” - “Max Ernst was clever. ” He put fluid oil-base paint on a paper or a piece of wood as on a slice of bread, then it turned over the slice on its canvas and made it slip. He was removing it with a blow to make funny effect… Trails of complicated colors. That one cannot see it on the book! It did not mix much the colors on the piece of paper, he preferred they mix on the fabric when he was making the piece of paper slip. It is necessary to make slice of bread slip with the two hands. At the beginning the results are not good. It often improves when one tests more, but that can irritate, then it is better to test the following day. But one should not give up since Max Ernst succeeded in making splendid paintings with this technique. But max Ernst did not leave his paintings like that! He continued to paint thoroughly with a small brush on slipped and mixed paint. It revealed strange heads by improving things a little; the strange heads almost existed already in the color. It was necessary to see them and show them to the others. (calling that "transfer" whereas it does not transfer anything at all, it is a little exaggerated!) He should have called this technique "the slice of bread and jam turned over on the table" or "slice of bread of paint slipped on a canvas". The "Europe after the rain" painting (L'Europe après la pluie 1940-42) is made in this manner and was thoroughly improved.
Max Ernst and frictions.
- "He rubs what… On what? " He rubs on paper with a pencil… But he put something under his sheet. What could one put under the sheet? A coin of currency! Let us test. But what would be more surprising than a coin? It is necessary to discover alone. Max Ernst says that the technique is not important when one does something artistically. Technique does not have anything mysterious or impossible, it is necessary to understand it and test it. It is as when a surprise is bought, it is not difficult to build the object inside, there are instructions…. What is more difficult is to build another object with the same pieces. It is similar with the frictions, it is not difficult to rub a little everywhere on the sheet, it is more difficult to make another thing of it… Max Ernst is timid, it does not like too much that one says that he is skilful, he does not want to discourage those who want to test, he wants to explain us that by testing, everyone could do what he does. He is perhaps the only artist who tried to make us understand that works are easy to make when the technique is known. Sometimes the other artists made us believe that what they did was very difficult to remake that they were the only ones being able to make it and that it was not worth to test because we were too stupid. Max Ernst him, trusts us and told us to test. He speaks simply. “I remember a wood panel located opposite to my bed, I often looked at it when I was small. I still saw it a little when I was ready to deaden. I saw odd things there. Later it was a floor which made me dream… and a little fear. Washings with the brush had accentuated the grooves of wood. I was attracted by the ground and almost obliged to look all the time at it because of the lines and the nodes in the wood. That irritated me and at the same time I liked that, what I saw changed all the time. I approached the floor with a paper sheet in the hope to keep the traces on the sheet (like one makes with a coin). I changed regularly and slightly the sheet of place…, just a little. I obtained lines of a high degree of accuracy and I trapped the world I had located when I was standing up. Thereafter, I placed paper sheets on other things than wood. Things that wanted to be well rub by my pencil; sheets of trees, fabric of bag, string, dry paint… It is necessary to try in order to understand. ”
Collages of Max Ernst.
At the beginning of the century, there were not many photographs in the magazines, there were especially drawings which resembled to photos, they were carried out with a lot of tight hatchings. If you had been children at that time, you could not have cut photographs out. You would have cut out images made of small very tight features. Moreover, the illustrated books were rare. … advertising leaflets did not exist. At the time of max Ernst, the postman did not leave any in the letter-boxes: Max Ernst managed differently to find images. “One day (in 1919), whereas I looked at an illustrated book of objects (umbrellas, watches, tools, clothing, etc) I was surprised to see such different things tight beside the others, things which one does not see together usually, my eyes saw other objects, I wanted to add with the pencil some lines and hatchings between the various objects so that it gives the same images that I see in my dreams.” The goal of Max Ernst is simple: he wants to reverse the relationship known between the objects; he wants to propose new and unexpected relationship between the images. When his collage was finished, Max Ernst didn’t like that one looks at it closely there were too many defects: collage was a little dirty, with the traces of adhesive, a little ruffled paper and the marks of awkward scissors, he hid it, and he made a photograph of it. At 21th century we would say that it is better to show the photocopy than a little dirty sheet of work. Today a photocopy is not expensive; why stint ourselves, and if the collage is successful, we can offer some to all our friends. Max Ernst really didn’t like one sees that it had stuck pieces of hatched images the ones beside the others! The photocopy, it's ideal! Quite clever who which now will find how that was done! - “One should not know how that has been done. ” One can also make collages with pieces of various photos. That is called your “photomontages”. Another artist, Man Ray, said that he was a “fautographe” and not a “photographer”. Max Ernst has never been a “fautographe” since he never stuck pieces of photographs…, that almost did not exist at his time, otherwise he would have done it too.
The scraping of Max Ernst.
Lottery it is scraping, one scrapes on the black to find a good number… One hopes to gain! Max Ernst likes to scrape his painting, that doesn’t say that he wants to pass through it; it is not either because his painting pricks and that he wants to make it feels good. He scrapes to gain, his painting will be sold better…, it should not be forgotten that he earns his living by selling his works. Here is how he removes paint with scraping: 1 - He installs a canvas. 2 - He paints all the surface of the white canvas. He paints with oil-based paint; it takes a long time to dry. 3 - He must wait. 4 - Then, he paints a second layer of color, he can choose the color, but he can use rests of paint. 5 - He waits until it dries. 6 - He can start once again if he wants it. Thus there are several layers of more or less dry paint the ones on top of the others. 7 - It is here that his true work starts; he takes a scraper, a knife, and he tries to remove the layers of paint: as removing the ice of the windshield of cars in winter. He won’t remove all; otherwise it wasn’t worth to put all these layers of paint on top of each others. Anyway that would be difficult to remove all since paint is dry and hard. One can scrape as he likes, the colors of the lower part will be revealed, and that will never make the similar effect as if he used a brush. One can also scrape the superimposed layers of color: 1 - In greasy pastels. 2 - In gouache. 3 - In acrylic painting. 4 - If the three are mixed that can work. Often the table on which one works is too smooth. That would be better to be on something rougher like an old table, a plank. In any case, one finds things more beautiful with scraping when there are small bumps. Max Ernst is complicated; he can mix all the techniques mentioned before: Transfers, collages, frictions, scrapings… He can make things slip, wait until that dries, to scrape, rub and especially paint over, like the other painters. He can paint with precision, or even make a scribble. Max Ernst is not a beginner! At the beginning it is better do experiments with each technique that allow beautiful discoveries, then, to mix some of them to obtain a more complicated result, but it is difficult to make a success out of something confusing. He neither, he did not always succeed. So it is necessary to continue to scrape…