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Thread: Now and Then

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    Now and Then

    It was in the middle of a debate with a friend when I made the point that many of the masters of the previous ages would not "kill for what we have now", since we were discussing how much getting the information you need to learn artmaking has advanced. Take the Renaissance for example, universities focused more on the written word, manuals as we know them now were few and even if there were artist studios before, I highly doubt most got further than a second generation- meaning most of the artists were self-taught. And still they managed to produce works and studies that are admired to this day.

    My point was that simply drawing is all you had. If you needed anatomical research you had to take the bother of asking for a fresh corpse, and if you needed figure drawing or perspective you had to draw from life -that's all there was.

    It might be a flawed point though, I know close to nothing to Art History -but I would like to ask, were any of the former masters brought here, would they feel compelled at all to take up Loomis or Bridgman or? Is all the information we have now a burden more than an aid?

    ((just for the record, you have Young Albrecht Durer's self portrait at 13))

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    Depending on the time and place we're talking about, they went through an incredibly rigid guild system. They'd be apprenticed to a master in their early teens and start out by grinding colors. Move up from there. Most of what they did was in aid of finishing paid work for the master, but he in turn would give them art instruction over the years. That instruction would probably look a whole lot like Loomis or Bridgman. All of our teaching traditions in Western art derive from their teaching traditions.

    I read once, the average age at which an artist created his first master piece (that is, a finished original work that entitled him to call himself a master painter) was 35.

    By the way, I have a recurring fantasy wherein I have to explain how a light bulb works do Leonardo da Vinci. I think he'd get it.

    I was once on the receiving end of a critique so savagely nasty, I marched straight out of class to the office and changed my major (sketchbook).
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    Quote Originally Posted by ennuyant View Post
    It was in the middle of a debate with a friend when I made the point that many of the masters of the previous ages would not "kill for what we have now", since we were discussing how much getting the information you need to learn artmaking has advanced. Take the Renaissance for example, universities focused more on the written word, manuals as we know them now were few and even if there were artist studios before, I highly doubt most got further than a second generation- meaning most of the artists were self-taught. And still they managed to produce works and studies that are admired to this day. My point was that simply drawing is all you had. If you needed anatomical research you had to take the bother of asking for a fresh corpse, and if you needed figure drawing or perspective you had to draw from life -that's all there was.
    Sorry, but you don't know much about art history, do you? The masters' works you are referring to are a product of big artistic traditions, not of rare prodigy geniuses.

    Artist studios DID exist. Artists DID learn from each other. Almost no artists were self-taught, practically all had been through apprenticeship. Art schools did span multiple generations. Artists did talk to each other. Treatises and books on art technique and art critique/analysis DID exist, even if not in the quantities we are enjoying now. The same with anatomy books - look up Andreas Vesalius, for instance.

    Do yourself a favor and study some art history instead of inventing wild fantasies.

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    I'll admit I'm the last person who should be talking (the majority of the facts that stick in my head are just the ones I can make fun of), but I think those kind of ideas come from alot of stereotypes laymen have about "artist types", as well as the time periods.

    I'm pretty sure those assumptions aren't uncommon.

    But the thing about corpses was interesting. Most people wouldn't know that.

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    Perspective is a pretty interesting example. I couldn't tell you who first latched onto it, but you can see it spread like wildfire through the Renaissance. Suddenly everyone's very interested in drawing buildings and floor tiles and arches just so they can go "Look at me! I know perspective!"

    I mean
    Now and Then
    seriously
    Now and Then
    guys
    Now and Then
    we get it
    Now and Then
    you can stop now

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    Quote Originally Posted by ennuyant View Post
    Take the Renaissance for example, universities focused more on the written word, manuals as we know them now were few and even if there were artist studios before, I highly doubt most got further than a second generation- meaning most of the artists were self-taught.
    You couldn't be more wrong if you were the President of Wrongolia.

    Quote Originally Posted by ennuyant View Post
    ((just for the record, you have Young Albrecht Durer's self portrait at 13))
    As a child, Durer learned to draw from his father, a goldsmith (in the Renaissance, goldsmiths did far more than simply jewelry making, and drawing/designing was an integral part of their training), and was apprenticed to the leading artist in Nuremburg at age fifteen.

    Last edited by Elwell; February 13th, 2013 at 04:42 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by keeptime View Post
    Perspective is a pretty interesting example. I couldn't tell you who first latched onto it,
    Filippo Brunelleschi


    Tristan Elwell
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    Interesting! We had looked at some of his architectural work but it wasn't mentioned that he was one of the first that "got" perspective. Learn something new every day.

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    Hey, in ignorance and due to the distance between my craft and those people's is too big, it's too tempting to fill it in with the "perfect artist" stereotype. What I know about the Renaissance is mostly four pages of the two textbooks I had in high school, and the book of the sketches of Da Vinci I have. But that's no excuse! I'm studying something entirely unrelated to Art, hence the lack of culture; but getting some won't hurt.

    If there's something I would be ready to defend is the pioneering and expansive work made throughout any history stage though. I mean, somebody DID start fields of knowledge that are common by now -and that is the part that I admire and are the most conscious of, and probably the one that's given foundation to this whole fantasy.

    ((also the corpses thing is pretty deductible -anatomy had just been rediscovered since Classic times, and they could only take text from those. there was a lot of work to do in reintroducing all the lost visual knowledge, let alone satisfying the curiosity of some -but even though it's the most logical scenario I can think of, I could have made that up again.))

    Last edited by ennuyant; February 13th, 2013 at 04:47 PM.
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    Kind of interesting how many of these artists did lack perspective knowledge. Hard to picture it with the treasure trove of knowledge we have now. Hell I remember seeing a basic 1 point perspective instruction on PBS when I was like 5-6.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ennuyant View Post
    If there's something I would be ready to defend is the pioneering and expansive work made throughout any history stage though. I mean, somebody DID start fields of knowledge that are common by now -and that is the part that I admire and are the most conscious of, and probably the one that's given foundation to this whole fantasy.
    Not to derail the topic entirely, but in most cases, it's quite hard to pinpoint exactly when and where a field of specialty originated. I mean sure, you have the exceptions to the rule like Darwin and Copernicus, but for the most part these processes are evolutionary, not revolutionary.
    This guy Henri Petroski arguments quite strongly in his book The Evolution of Useful Things. His main theory is that all design is redesign but I guess it can be translated into other fields than just purely design. For instance he explains the evolution from stick to fork through thousands of thousands of years. It's not like someone picked up a stick one day and thought he'd jam four tines into it and call it a fork instead.

    I am curious though, and the art history buffs in here could probably enlighten me, what would you say have been the biggest "breakthroughs" - if any - in the field of art? Who? When? Where? Why? Has it always been an evolutionary process or have we had brief moments of absolute genius completely revolutionizing the field?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    As a child, Durer learned to draw from his father, a goldsmith (in the Renaissance, goldsmiths did far more than simply jewelry making, and drawing/designing was an integral part of their training), and was apprenticed to the leading artist in Nuremburg at age fifteen.
    Also, for the record, his thirteen-year-old self portrait looks like it was drawn by a thirteen year old.

    Hell, I could do about as well as that at fourteen. It's about average quality for a kid who'd been more or less seriously studying drawing for a few years already (and most kids started seriously learning their future trades before they were in their teens. Remember that fourteen was considered to be technically "adult". People married at fourteen.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by iambanana View Post
    Not to derail the topic entirely, but in most cases, it's quite hard to pinpoint exactly when and where a field of specialty originated. I mean sure, you have the exceptions to the rule like Darwin and Copernicus, but for the most part these processes are evolutionary, not revolutionary.
    Last I checked, Darwin and Copernicus were not acting alone. Darwin built on previous theories, AND Alfred Wallace was developing the same theories as Darwin at around the same time, independently. And I seem to recall Copernicus at least discussing his theories with other scholars as he was working on them, so ideas were probably being exchanged...

    You know, I honestly can't think of any idea that's ever been totally bolt-out-of-the-blue original and not in any way related to previous or concurrent knowledge.

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