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Tracing and the Masters


From: Patricia Knott (pknott_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Tue Nov 27 2001 - 13:34:22 PST

> "Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the
> Old Masters"
> Did anybody else see this? Basically it talks about how Jan Vermeer used a
> camera obscura to draw his images and Ingres used a camera lucida. Also, it
> speculates that concave mirrors were being used as far back as the 15th
> century by artists like Jan Van Eyck and Lorenzo Lotto to capture details
> for portraiture and difficult patterns and designs in cloth.

I saw a review of this book several weeks ago and was also intrigued.
Apparently, from what I've read in other sources, much of the development of
linear perspective in the Renaissance was due to tracings of images from the
camera obscura. I believe you can add Canaletto's Views of Venice to this.
I think we have to take into consideration how the technology and science
was used to enhance the art. It wasn't simply copying but the use of the
tool to inform.
Think of technical innovations and how processes changed. The use of oil
paints, look what
"tubed" paint allowed the artist to do, the camera ...
BTW the current exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art gives a
enlightened view on Eakins use of photography in his works.
I think there are BIG differences between using a tool to inform as opposed
to using a tool to simply trace and copy. The end justifies the means,
And perhaps why so many of us are annoyed with Kincaid. The reproducible
image is a valid art form, but I think that we are offended in some way that
Kincaid's end is marketing (as in the American way) and not informed ( as in
aesthetic sense).

Today, I think, we are only beginning to realize the extent the computer
can aid as a relevant tool. Too much computer art is only a reproduction of
what could be done less easily/quickly by hand. I am anxiously awaiting the
real implications of the computer as a tool.


P.S. I don't like CBS gives a hoot what we think about Kincaid. Wasn't it
Morley Safer that trashed Modern art a few yars ago. And does anyone
remember the comments Andy Rooney made about teachers?