Tuesdays projects

I chose looking at portraiture through Thomas Ruff and Egon Schiele.

On our first lesson we discussed different artists work that look at facial expressions.

Starting with Duchenne de Boulogne, we looked at his Le mécanisme de la physionomie humaine, 1862 piece. He has a series of 16 photographs of the human face being manipulated to create different facial expressions (he was a french neurologist, who is said to have started it all off). I think this is a really interesting piece because it is showing the exploration into how the muscles in the face change with expressions.

Le mécanisme de la physionomie humaine.
Le mécanisme de la physionomie humaine.

duchennes drawings

According to the article on Summon; Unique drawings by Duchenne de Boulogne, he didn’t feel a photograph could portray the facial expressions as well as a drawing. “He later realised the advantages of drawing compared with photographs: it lets the drawer emphasise some essential lines of the face to better make a point.” So he started off with a photograph of a face being electrically stimulated and then from that he’d sketch it so he could demonstrate what he felt to be the important part of the expression.

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I learnt this new word whilst researching into Duchenne. I wanted to note this definition down because i like it and i think it could be useful within my portraiture studies.

Another artist we discussed was Messerschmidt. We looked at his character heads; he did sculptures of head pieces, representing different expressions. He beleived there were 64 human expressions, one of which was:

Style: "Vexed Man"
This character head has the title “The Vexed Man”

Although I think these sculptures are interesting to look at, and I like how Messerschmidt has captured all the fine lines and intro cut detail that is involved in the different expressions. I don’t feel as much of a connection with sculpture, as i do painting or photography.

One of the artists, which i am going to explore in further detail and that we touched on in this lesson, is Schiele. We looked at a few of his paintings and noticed the manner at which he depicts them shows agitation. I learned that he had quite a hard upbringing and I guess this is what is being shown in his art work.

“Egon Scheile is known for being grotesque, erotic, pornographic, and disturbing, focusing on sex, death, and discovery”. Scheile’s art work were created around a similar time that the psychologist Sigmund Freud proposed his theories, largely based on subconscious and sexual desire. I think Scheiles expressionism is linked with Freuds theories.

Nude self portrait
Nude self portrait

Another artist I intend to research into is Kirchner, a german expressionist.

To end the lesson, we went into the studio and had to ‘create a face’. We could do this in any way we chose. Whilst sat on my desk with my pencil case and my art book, i was trying to think of an innovative way to attack this task. My comfort zone would definitely lie in the 2D type of work, and the more realistic portrayal of a face so i was aiming to avoid this.

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This was my face. I started off with the lips by pressing my own lips against paper in my art book. I was originally planning to play with the material paper, which is why I ripped it out. I think I was always going to use this layering technique. The next step was the nose. I got this idea, because I had lipstick as the lips, of doing a kind of mask of a face. So I wanted a colour that looked like skin tone but represented foundation. Then for the eyes i wanted the darkest colour i had in my pencil case, and smudged the colour with water to make them look realistic- by giving it shadow and tones. It also emphasised the mask idea, by acting as the make up eye-shadow. The dark colour was because to me, eyes are what I always look at and concentrate the most on so I wanted them to stand out. I used a thick, black pen for the mascara.
Following the make up mask idea, I decided to make it stand up and be held. So I decided to stick ripped out features on a piece of small and thin wood (that I found on my desk, after having used it to stir my tea).
This was my face done. I coloured in a background of the rest of the head, and positioned the wood over it.

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