Saturday, May 12, 2012

Body of Work Show and Sketchbooks

In the next few weeks, readers of this blog are going to hear a lot about an upcoming show Body of Work which opens May 18.  The figurative show will include work of nine local artists exhibited in two rooms at the Art Center.  One room will be these artists' sketches and pages from sketchbooks.

More on published sketchbooks

Page from one of Picasso's sketchbooks.  Picasso's numerous sketchbooks are a visual diary of his work
It is common to see sketches and drawings included in art exhibitions, but this was not always the case. The idea of publishing a sketchbook is recent.  Many artists of the past kept their sketchbooks and sketches very private.  They were guarded from the outside world and considered a studio secret.  These drawings were used in the big studios for creations of new paintings, collaborators used them to assist their the master, and pupils copied them as instructional material. These sketches were seen as precious, as is evident in the testament of Peter Paul Rubens who stipulated that his drawings be passed to his son or son in law if one were to became a painter. 

With the internet, it is now possible to see artists’ sketchbooks. Many museums and other institutions are documenting famous artists’ sketchbooks and preliminary drawings and putting them online, such as a huge imaging documentation project at Harvard.  

One of the things that contemporary artist James Jean did to broaden his reputation from illustrator to fine artist is publish his sketchbooks.  Although Jean is a fantasy artist, Jean's book PR3 includes figure drawings and life drawings from observations in café’s or on planes. Some drawings have vivid color.
Drawing from the sketchbook of James Jean

Drawings from the sketchbook of James Jean

A giant traveling show, The Sketchbook Project, includes amateur and professional artists from around the world.  This year’s theme is “Everyone we know” with 3,000 participants. At galleries in six cities,  sketchbooks are often spread out across tables so that people may look inside. The project encourages participation. (From The Sketchbook Project website):  In March, your book will rock out at the SXSW festival in Austin, TX.  Your book will spend July tasting all the food Chicago has to offer, and in August, your book will make new friends at the Portland Zine Symposium.

One stop for the project: The Brooklyn Art Library's storefront reading room

Body of Work Opening is May 18 at 7:00 at the Arts Center

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