Thursday, February 2, 2012

Artists I Love: Ingres

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, I love you.  

The french painter, Ingres, is mostly known for this AMAZING image of Napoleon on his imperial throne, as well as the odalisques like the one below.  While perhaps not an unsung hero, but I wonder if he gets the due he deserves in the history of art.  Perhaps he does, but until recently, I don't think I paid enough attention to his exquisite paintings with their subtle plastification of the figure and their intense homage and servitude to beauty with a capital B.  *Don't forget you can click on the images to enlarge them.

Around the time of the French Revolution, he studied under another absolute favorite, Jacques-Louis David, who I found out through wikipedia said Ingres had a tendency to exaggerate in his work.  That in itself is probably what makes me love him so much.  As a sort of new Mannerist, exaggerating proportions slightly is what makes the real uncanny, and draws us in and slightly confuses us at the same time.  I will let you read the rest about him here.

His tendency to apply rich and ornate patterns, fabrics, and jewels only heightens the sense of sumptuousness to each portrait and take it a little over-the-top, and in Napoleon's portrait, a lot over-the-top.  Of course, in the tradition of portraiture, the wealthy were the ones commissioning portraits of themselves to create an opulent and fantastical, beautified avatar of themselves, if you will.  However, I read in a book about him that he reminded the women in his portraits to bring all of their jewels, as if he knew that would bring them beyond a basic portrait.

What I really found illuminating and inspiring in my recent study of Ingres simply for research for my own work was a book in the CCA library, Portraits of Ingres: image of an epoch, which included all these lovely paintings we have seen before, but also his understated portrait drawings.  It's the small things in these drawings that inspire me so much- his use of light rendering and strong lines, as well as small details that call attention to the frame of the image, and his placement of the horizon line that play with the idea of a standard portrait.  I took some photos from the book just for my own reference.

I love the way he has drawn an image of an image, with a decorative symbol on the outside of the frame.
The simplicity of line in her arms and dress combined with her  rendered hair and eyes is really refreshingly light.
I love her sassy attitude and all the crap she is holding.
Another simple line drawing of the outline of the body.  I also love the column-like placement of standing figures straight down the middle of the frame.
The way the horizon line is placed so low brings the figure into a setting but removes him from  its proximity.  It also makes the figure seem larger and grander than if he were placed in the middle of a scene.

I love portraits, I love Beauty with a capital B, and I love line.  There, you got me.  I'm an old-fashioned romantic in a high-tech, soul-stripping art world of fast and easy projects.  Here's to the real dudes:  Ingres, David, and Bronzino.

PS I found all the images of his paintings from google and have no rights to them.

1 comment:

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