When he was talking about his sculpture “The Walking Man,” Rodin comes up with the wonderful quote: “It is not my Walking Man in himself that interests me, but rather the thought of how far he has come, and how far he has yet to cover.”
“The Burghers of Calais” being paraded before the public.
This quote I feel applies both to the recent British Museum exhibition “Rodin and the art of ancient Greece,” which examines the influence of the sculptures from antiquity, in particular the Parthenon, on Rodin, and also Rodin’s own philosophy that enjoyed the effect that time has on sculptures (the lack of limbs, heads and general knocks that they have taken over the millennia), and makes a feature of it in his own work.
The Elgin marbles in the British Museum never really grabbed my attention before, but this exhibition made me have a truly great respect and admiration for the sculpture created by Pheidias. The man was a genius in how he could transform and manipulate the cold hard and heavy marble into living flesh, and to make it look as if it weighed hardly anything.
Apart from the drawing at the top of Rodin’s “The Burghers of Calais”, for which I found a convenient seat, it was too crowded in the exhibition to be able to draw anything comfortably, so I took myself off to the Parthenon Gallery within the British Museum to view the remnants that didn’t make it to the exhibition, and here I managed to draw this horses head, originally one of four that was pulling a god’s chariot from out of the waves.
I don’t know about you, but my eyes are forever on the lookout for art ideas and inspiration from whatever source they can.
This was a piece of rubbish found on the pavement, yes complete rubbish, thrown away, discarded and abandoned paper that’s been trampled on and weathered by sun and rain. Nevertheless it caught my eye. Not exactly a Marcel Duchamp “readymade,” but certainly an “objet trouvé.” The paper folds look like deliberate origami and, with a large upraised fist, a Japanese warrior comes to life!
(Perhaps it also begs the question, what I would have made of it, if I had originally seen it the other way up on the pavement. Something completely different I imagine.)
Shōki (after Hokusai)
This brings me on to one of Hokusai’s depictions of Shōki from the recent British Museum exhibition “Beyond the Great Wave.” Shōki dates back to the seventh century and legend has it that he is a demon-queller, and banisher of diseases. Quite useful this week as I wrestle with a head cold. I think a good version of him could be done in origami. Apparently when he appears in red he is remarkably efficient at warding off smallpox as well. Something for you to bear in mind, and the reason I have copied this Hokusai in red (well brown is the nearest I have) Conté crayon; to keep you safe.
The raised arm from my “objet trouvé” reminds me of another guy with arm aloft from one of my instant sketches done on the London underground last May. A portrait of an unknown man that I was drawn to, both for his immense presence, and also his humility (I think he’d just given up his seat to a pregnant lady). Not really related to the above, but more of an opportunity to stop him languishing in a forgotten sketchbook and to bring him to life in a blog post for his 15 minutes of fame.