I am a sculptor who works in stone and in wax for bronze. I have been running a private art school for the last 27 years – The Arts Centre Verrocchio, near Siena, Tuscany. We have excellent landscape painters teaching painting here during the summer. I have always been interested in the art of drawing, including what I call the syntax of drawing. I teach drawing and sculpture, summer and winter.
My teaching has led me to a number of discoveries which are important to artists but disturb the status quo in Art History, and so have been thrust aside. The Rembrandt discoveries are particularly important because they should change our expectations of what an artist might achieve from the imagination unaided by observation. Rembrandt advised his students to learn from nature “anything else was worthless in his eyes”. Yet the “experts” believe that his biblical subjects were imagined not observed. My web site www.saveRembrandt.org.uk proves otherwise.
We have a Museum of Artists’ Secrets here which will provide much of the subject matter for this blog. We will be exploding the myths wished upon us (unwittingly?) by art history. Those myths have the effect of separating us, today’s artists, from the great masters of the past who could have so much to teach us if they did not appear to be such unnaturally talented giants to us.
Since Philip Steadman’s “Vermeer’s Camera”it has become generally accepted that that was the way he achieved his miraculously toned paintings. Few have stopped to ask, as Lawrence Gowing did, how the “dark image” seen in a camera obscura could have helped Vermeer achieve such an unprecedented sense of light.
Steadman was trained as an architect and his investigation is focused on the dimensions which could have been equally well observed through as simple a device as Durer’s glass screen with fixed eyepiece. He seems to have little appreciation of what Vermeer means to the painting community. He produces very convincing evidence that a lens was used at some point because the fixed lens of the camera obscura gives it a very limited depth of field which is evidenced in many Vermeers. The camera obscura is in many ways a positive handicap to the painter, giving a little help in drafting but none in painting. I have deduced from “Ars Pictoria” perhaps Vermeer’s most famous painting, a cryptic message for painters which will fill the central gap in Steadman’s otherwise fascinating book.
We are conducting an experiment using Vermeer’s studio set up with two mirrors, which is outstandingly useful for the study of tone. This blog will include up dates on that and many other subjects I have researched; such as life casting in ancient Greece, Roman carving technique and its legacy, the recent archaeological finds under the cathedral in Siena, Lorenzo Maitani, a very great humanist sculptor, whom few have ever heard of, etc.
But the main purpose of this blog is to create a forum of discussion on ways of developing a new approach to art and art history to supersede the present, established dictatorship in art. My suggestion is “New Humanism”. Let us hear from you.
The topics will be -
New Humanism, The Verrocchio School, Art History, (practical & theoretical hints for artists and critics) and anything else that might crop up on our way.