The Passion of Collecting Academic Nudes

Join me as we explore my collection of Academic Nudes from the 18th, 19th, and Early 20th Centuries and serendipitous finds in the Museum, Art Auction, and Gallery world......examples from the Golden Age of the European Academie

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Atelier Method or What You Don't and Won't Learn at University Art Schools.

When I entered the Studio Painting program in the School of Fine Arts at a very well know University here in North-Central Florida, I was under the impression that I would be taught how to paint in the style of the Great Masters of the 19th Century. I had it in my head that the Professors at the University had all this secret knowledge and were just sitting there waiting for me to fall into their clutches. Theywould empart to me all the technical aspects of painting in the Classical Realist style and life would be a journey into Elyssium Fields. I had taken all of my lower level drawing and painting courses and bounced into the program with a smile on my face. Boy was I dissappointed and ultimately disillusioned. The Professors at America's large University Art Schools can't teach you what they themselves have never been taught. Since the collapse of the great European and American Academy systems at the turn of the 20th Century with the advent of Modernism and the Gallery system, that kind of technical craftsmanship basically disappeared from our Schools of Fine Art. I really felt sorry for some of those kids in that program. One young man in particular during our Junior Painting Studio class, a really tallented and energetic artist, remarked that if he had known he would come all the way to this University to teach himself how to paint he would have stayed home. There was a point in my training at University that I knew the system I was in would not be able to teach me the skills I craved in order to do Classically themed and Contemporary Realist figurative works.

So, one summer I happened upon a summer studio in the Techniques of the Masters given at the Academy of Realist Art in Toronto, Canada. I sent in my reservation and was off to get a taste of what I wasn't learning at University. I came back from that two week course with a renewed spirit. I learned so much from that course and for the first time in my training I learned what the Fine Arts instructors at my University didn't know and couldn't possibly teach me. I learned about the sight-size method and drawing from plaster casts. I took home a greater appreciation of the Classical methods of teaching students how to draw and paint.

The current private Ateliers specializing in Classical Realism model their form of art instruction after the great Art Studio Academys of 15th to 19th Century Europe. Although the methods vary, most Atelier schools train students in the skills and techniques associated with creating some form of representational art. These skills include intensive sessions for drawing or painting from the nude model. Sight-size is the impliment modern and classical Ateliers use to teach a students drawing and painting an object exactly as it appears to the artist on a one to one scale. You are taught a form of realism based upon careful observations of nature with great attention to detail. If you would like more information on the sight-size method then the internet offers many sites where you can research the method in great detail. There are several books which also explain the method and show you how to set up your own drawing station for learning the technical aspects of the sight-size method.

I think what originally captured my attention about these mainly 19th Century drawings and paintings I have managed to collect is the artistic detail and obvious technical skills of observatrion exhibited by the artist using the site-size method.

I have listed several Modern Ateliers specializing in Classical Realism so if you would like to learn more please follow the links to their websites.

And, now let's start our journey into my collection......

A New Wrinkle In The Case of The Male Nude Painting

Well, never say never. There has been a new wrinkle in the identification of the Artist responsible for the Male Nude Academic Painting currently at the Conservationist Laboratory for restoration. The possibility of heading back to square one in now conceiveable. I received an email this morning from the kind lady in France, Arlette, who sold me the painting and she has developed some interesting information regarding the possible identity of the "Raoul le Boucher" written on the surface of the painting. According to Arlette there was indeed a very famous French wrestler around 1900 named Raoul le Boucher...."Raoul the Butcher", a name reflecting his talents in the ring I suppose. Above is a side by side comparison of a photograph of Raoul le Boucher dating around 1900 and the head of the model in the painting. I would not be surprised if le Boucher did actually pose for the life Drawing and Painting classes at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Gustave Moreau had a very respected reputation and would have attracted some famous models for his classes. Also above is cover art from a 1906 publication featuring Raoul le Boucher taking down a Russian wrestler. Take a look at the above photographs and let me know what you think.

I am not really convinced the model is a young Raoul le Boucher. The muscularture of the model in the painting and the part of the hair in particular does not fully match the later photographs. I am more likely to believe the Raoul le Boucher refers to Raoul le Gardier. This is typical when trying to trace the origin of any artwork, something one brings away from watching Antiques Roadshow. Over the years family myth most likely hides the truth. After looking at that color pallette on this painting and the similar color palette on le Gardier's later works that this fine academic work is more likely by his hand.