Sketching Art at the Carnegie Museum

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What a glorious day! As I mentioned before, a friend turned me on to Jason Polan’s work, which inspired me to get to my local art museum to draw everything! The Carnegie Museum of Art has a great collection, and for a smaller city puts on a lot of quality shows. It’s worth visiting if you travel to Pittsburgh. I saw so much on Sunday, did tons of sketching, but didn’t do half of what I wanted to. There’s only so much you can do in 4 hours, but realistic expectations are not my strong point. Man, I wanted to go back again the next day….but work called. The Small Prints, Big Artists show was a knock out. Scores of engravings, woodcuts, etchings and drypoints by the greats of the Renaissance and  Baroque, very intelligently arranged, with commentary that even a jaded art historian (me) found insightful. Looking at an early Dürer in which one could see the imperfections in his technique, figuration and composition brought tears to my eyes. It’s not that I want to see weakness in the mighty, not at all, but it was such a hopeful thing to realize he did not burst from the skull of Zeus fully-formed as an artist. The stages in his development were illustrated, Rembrandt’s technique and innovations were explained…long familiar images became exciting, at least half because I have never seen these images in person, seen how large, or how small they were, to see the micro-chip like detailing these men did. It was genuinely awe-some.

I also wandered through the very interesting Faked, Forgotten, Founda detective tale about three Renaissance paintings, and enjoyed the small show called Architectural Explorations. I especially loved the Lebbeus Woods drawings and a sort of palimpsest of tracing paper sketches from Desmone Associates, a firm here in town. I didn’t sketch in either, but I wouldn’t mind sketching in the architecture show. There was great stuff in there.

I think the most important things to me though was the notion of drawing everything, which meant standing still in front of things I would normally walk past or glance at quickly and forget and try to see them well enough to capture them. I became quite fond of objects I’m sure would never have penetrated otherwise. I’m looking forward to returning to carry on with this project, to find what other treasures are hidden in plain sight.

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