The Duchess’s bookshelf of becoming super excellent

bookshelf

I love books, and there is a small cluster of core books that accompany me on my journey to painterly enlightenment which I would heartily recommend to other painters. These are the books I turn to again and again: reference books, philosophical books, history books and diaries which have profoundly shaped my learning and my views on art. If you need to be your own teacher for the moment, there are some wise dudes you can depend on for guidance.

Bammes

Gottfried Bammes: Complete guide to life drawing

This book has consumed me since I first met it, and travels the world with me. Herr Bammes, who taught in Dresden, has a clear way of describing the human body in simplified volumes and muscle groups that help one think structurally about the body. Rather than overwhelming yourself by starting out with hard-core anatomy, working through Bammes’s guide will help you ease into more complex anatomical study by giving you a broader understanding upon which to hang such knowledge. He begins with exercises on proportion and movement, setting a firm foundation of both accuracy and expressive liveliness. From here, he explains the parts of the body in greater detail, with many of his own examples reducing the forms to blocks in perspective. His diagrams on knees and feet in particular are works of teacherly genius. Bammes diagrammatically explains the mechanics of the bones and muscle groups, as well as reducing their construction to simple linear frames. Right from the beginning he gives the student a firm way of indicating a solid foot, which when rehearsed and developed only serves to cement the structural understanding.

Says Bammes (2010: 222), ‘If skull drawing is not practised as if it were architecture, with a perpetual ordering of primary and secondary aspects—if it is not done with awareness—it will degenerate into nothing more than clever copying and will not provide any gain in knowledge or vision.’ Yet he (2010: 10) never loses sight of why we demand so much of ourselves: ‘When we draw people, we are growing towards others and ourselves and we reveal things that were lost before to our fleeting glances and inaccessible to our experience.’

The margins of the book are peppered with a fine selection of master drawings, including those of many lesser-known German draughtsmen, while all examples are drawn by the elegant and controlled hand of Bammes himself. I cannot recommend this book enough. I’m still working slowly through it, using it as a companion to all further anatomy study, and revisiting earlier chapters again and again.

Bammes, Gottfried. 2010. Complete guide to life drawing [Menschen zeichnen Grundlagen zum Aktzeichnen]. Trans. Cicero Translations. Search: Kent.

Goldfinger

Eliot Goldfinger: Human anatomy for the artist

This book is an investment, but a good anatomy book is a necessary tool in your belt if you’ve any real interest in the figure. The delightfully named Goldfinger turns his Midas touch to one bone, one muscle at a time, displaying many angles and overlaps and cross-sections. The text explains function, origin and insertion and many other enlightening aspects of each part, but clear drawings illustrate most of the information. These drawings are accompanied by some photographs of an extremely ripped model, to help locate things under the often-obfuscatory surface of flesh. And several straight-lined diagrams explain difficult-to-conceptualise mechanics or simplifications to help remember the main features of a part.

Goldfinger (1991:. 64) encourages a deep understanding of the figure, not just a grasping after surface variations:

‘During complex actions, note the sequence of the contraction and relaxation of the numerous muscles that are functioning. Observe the action, visualise the skeleton deep in the body and what changes are taking place at its joints, then determine which muscles are working.’

This book is an artist’s dictionary. It will also make you sound clever at parties because you will learn a lot of scientific words.

Goldfinger, Eliot. 1991. Human anatomy for artists: The elements of form. Oxford University: Oxford.

Nelson

Robert Nelson: The Visual Language of Painting: An aesthetic analysis of representational technique

This book has affected me deeply. It made me appreciate how genuinely scholarly painting and drawing could be, while never losing sight of how physical and sensual it is. Nelson’s (2010: 27-28) project is an admirable one of finding a way to unite the studio and academic practice:

‘I would like to see a philosophy of technique which positions technique as the necessary correlate of poetic vision and the basis of visual language, a philosophy which is non-instrumental and anti-mechanistic. I would like to cultivate a discourse which deals with the motivation, the aesthetic benefits, the almost physiological processes of perception, but also the wilful staging, the theatricality of expressing what happens in the mind, the eye and the hand. … The project, if it could be pursued as I hope to demonstrate, would bring studio technique into the heartland of scholarship in the humanities.’

Nelson writes knowledgeably and generously on delightfully mundane topics, validating painterly excitement at painterly preoccupations: on drawing, on composition, on edges, on shadow. Yet he is able to articulate better than most artists what it is that is so thrilling and relevant about these topics: that painting, not merely writing, may be ‘a vehicle for discourse’ (2010: 10); that ‘drawing, in short, is a deliberateness in seeing which declares itself and argues what it wants to define’ (2010: 55), that it ‘manifests your will to possess intellectually’ (2010: 54).

Every time I pick this book up I am filled afresh with new thoughts directly related to the practice of painting, and intellectually energised as well. We can speak clearly, intelligently and unashamedly about the physical and visual aspects of our work, not just about concepts and symbols and statements. For our work does make investigations by means other than words and symbols, and we would do well to argue for the standing of our visual language.

Dali

Salvador Dali: Diary of a genius, an autobiography

The diaries of artists are pure gold. Sometimes they divulge their painting secrets, or elaborate on what, specifically, drives them wild about Rubens, or, as in the case of Dali, bestow an entire philosophy upon you. ‘The uniform is essential in order to conquer,’ Dali (1966: 53) proclaims (Dali only makes proclamations. This is in itself a lesson). ‘Throughout my life, the occasions are very rare when I have abased myself to civilian clothes. I am always dressed in the uniform of Dali.’ And to a young man who is willing to accept the sort of despicable, filthy, poverty-stricken life an artist is expected to lead he admonishes with devilish wisdom (1966: 53-4):

‘If you want to eat beans and bread every day, it will be very expensive. You must earn it by working very hard. On the other hand, if you can get used to living on caviar and champagne, it doesn’t cost a thing.’

He smiles stupidly and thinks I am joking. …

‘Caviar and champagne are things that are offered you free by certain very distinguished ladies, wonderfully perfumed and surrounded by the most beautiful furniture in the world. But to get them, you must be quite different from the you who comes to see Dali with dirty fingernails, while I have received you in uniform.’

Dali, Salvador. 1966 [1964]. Diary of a genius, an autobiography. Trans. Michel Déon. Picador: London.

Gombrich

Ernst H. Gombrich: The story of art

When you find this ubiquitous book for a couple of quid in a charity shop, buy it immediately. The Viennese-born, Oxford-dwelling, self-professed non-art-historian wrote this book as honestly and clearly as he could, intending it to avoid the hormonal scorn of the teenage audience for whom it was written, and to whom the book intends to introduce art. The premise of this book is that ‘there really is no such thing as Art. There are only artists’ (1972: 4) and that a history of artists thus reveals a saga of cosmically different aims and forces. Gombrich trips lightly and eagerly over his words, ever able to see merit in the visual works of humankind. It’s impossible not to get caught up in his enthusiasm for and appreciation of our varied collective efforts. Everything has its place–and time, rather than linearly measuring our progress, merely greets us with different demands. Learn to truly appreciate art, to discover the joy of paintings and sculpture and architecture, and instantly become ten times smarter.

Gombrich, E. H. 1972 [1950]. The story of art. Twelfth ed. Phaidon: Oxford.

Dewey

John Dewey: Art as experience

This surprising book throws heavy punches. It clearly expresses the things about art that make you angry and explains why they should go away. It could only hurt your foes more if you socked them in the face with it.

First of all, Dewey discusses the mysteriousness of art—its detachment from life, its artificial isolation in museums, its role of showcasing imperial conquests. Rather than being removed from our experience, he argues, art should be in the thick of it: it should be the very substance of our lives. ‘The times when select and distinguished objects are closely connected with the products of usual vocations,’ he argues (1934: 6), ‘are the times when appreciation of the former is most rife and most keen. When, because of their remoteness, the objects acknowledged by the cultivated to be works of fine art seem anemic to the mass of people, esthetic hunger is likely to seek the cheap and the vulgar.’ If we live in a world of cheap thrills and throwaway entertainment, it is because we have been told we can’t have nice things, locking them away as mysterious artefacts of Art.

Dewey also addresses the strange introspective tendencies of contemporary artists. Not only has art been excluded from ordinary experience, but ‘because of changes in industrial conditions the artist has been pushed to one side from the main streams of active interest’ (1934: 9). The non-integrated modern artist is forced to turn to ‘a peculiar esthetic “individualism”’—relying on ever more obscure ‘self-expression’ (1934: 9). Art becomes even more foreign to ordinary experience. Seriously, is anyone reading this book?

And in case you were willing to defend art’s reincarnation as ‘self-expression,’ Dewey has a few sucker-punches lined up for thoughtless paint-spilling, which he considers little more than ‘discharge’ (1934: 62):

‘To discharge is to get rid of, to dismiss; to express is to stay by, to carry forward in development, to work out to completion. A gush of tears may bring relief, a spasm of destruction may give outlet to inward rage. But where there is no administration of objective conditions, no shaping of materials in the interest of embodying the excitement, there is no expression. What is sometimes called an act of self-expression might better be termed one of self-exposure; it discloses character—or lack of character—to others. In itself, it is only a spewing forth.’

Dewey demands serious and honest thought from artists, and sees their intellectual processes as differing only in emphasis from that of the scientist (1934: 15). The main difference between the intelligent artist and the scientist is her medium: rather than working in abstracted symbols, ‘the artist does his thinking in the very qualitative media he works in, and the terms lie so close to the object that he is producing that they merge directly into it’ (1934: 16).

The only question left to ask is, how did art fester into the hideous mess presently molesting our eyes while this book has been kicking around for eighty years?

Dewey, John. 1934. Art as experience. Minton, Malch & Company: New York.

Galenson

David Galensen: Old masters and young geniuses: The two life cycles of artistic creativity

If you are discouraged at not yet being famous, this soberly-written book ought to give you a good dose of optimism and dispel a lot of silly ideas about creativity and inspiration. Instead of resorting to wild speculation, Galenson has spent years doing research into the way artists work and describes two broad approaches. He calls them the ‘conceptual’ (or deductive) and the ‘experimental’ (inductive). In identifying whether you are good at quickly synthesising ideas and conceiving entirely new ones out of them, or whether you are consumed by a single idea which drives all your investigations, or rather somewhere along this spectrum, you will free yourself from expectations and judgements that don’t actually apply to you. And that means you can just get down to work instead of taping brazen Picasso quotes to your wall.

‘Aptitude and ambition are more important factors in allowing people to make contributions to a chosen discipline than the ability to think and work in any particular way, either deductively or inductively.’ (2006: 166).

Galensen, David W. 2006. Old masters and young geniuses: The two life cycles of artistic creativity. Princeton University Press: Princeton.

Clark

Kenneth Clark: The nude: A study of ideal art

I am steadily drawing my way through this book. Not all nudes were created alike, and as you progress through this book you will gain an appreciation for the subtleties of purpose that the bared human form has risen to meet. ‘The English language, with its elaborate generosity,’ Clark (1985: 1) gushes at the outset, ‘distinguishes between the naked and the nude.’ From the outset, he is at pains to emphasise that the nude, rather than being the very essence of art, is ‘an art form invented by the Greeks in the 5th century B.C., just as opera is an art form invented in 17th-century Italy’ (1985: 3).

Our artistic tradition is heavily shaped by the elegant foundation laid by the Greeks, and not just through their mythology. I have been amazed, however, at how the gods and goddesses effortlessly step from one role into another—with lion-skin-wearing Hercules transforming into the honey-eating-from-inside-the-lion Samson, with Apollo and David interchangeable youthful heroes in the mind of Michelangelo. But beneath the stories themselves lies the earthy Greek philosophy which embodies every idea and passion in human form (1985: 20; 21):

‘The Greeks attached great importance to their nakedness. … It implies the conquest of an inhibition which oppresses all but the most backward people; it is like a denial of original sin.’

Of course, the other half of our heritage is the Judeo-Christian tradition, and the nude suffers painfully under the Christian worldview, disrupted though never entirely abandoned (1985: 203): ‘While the Greek nude began with the heroic body proudly displaying itself on the palestra, the Christian nude began with the huddled body cowering in consciousness of sin.’ The awkwardness of our artistic tradition seems to rest on this unhappy marriage of earthy and heavenly philosophies.

Don’t expect a dry historical account of statues, though. Clark winds back and forth, attending in turn to Apollo and Venus, energy and pathos, ecstasy and the grotesque. The book is full of pictures to copy in the absence of life models, and will open your eyes when you return to the gallery to dutifully copy from the antique.

Clark, Kenneth. 1985 [1956]. The nude: A study of ideal art. Penguin: London.

Sketchbook

Sketchbook

Words, words, words. Time to draw.

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On beginning at the beginning

Velázquez

The Rokeby Venus (1648-51), by Velázquez

The Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, has put on a remarkable Velázquez show that has afforded me a much deeper understanding of this Spanish heavyweight. I know that painters are supposed to adore him by default, but despite the Queensland Art Gallery’s efforts a few years ago, I have come quite late to this party. I stand by the view that it’s best to keep quiet about things you don’t understand, and to take as long as you need to come to terms with something on your own. You don’t have to fake it!

Natürlich, the former imperial seat of Vienna has much cultural clout and is presumably more trustworthy around nice things than that convict island somewhere well across the seas, such that the Prado, Berlin’s Gemäldegalerie and London’s National Gallery among many others across the world have graciously loaned some seriously significant works to our fair city and her already impressive stock of Velázquezes, making for an achingly spectacular exhibition.

Gloriette, Wien

Gloriette, Wien

One might lament that a roughly chronological exhibition is somewhat unimaginative, but the progression rather wonderfully traces Velázquez’s artistic growth. Each dimmed and solemn room is a cluster of works from distinctive times and places in the painter’s life, a fact that is obvious without needing reference to a guide book or captions. The first room is respectfully darkened, its rich wine-red walls closing in on you, that woody, furniture-polish scent of the Kunsthistorisches filling the air like incense. A serious reverence hushes this room, which is hung with saints and peasants: Velázquez’s earliest works from his native Seville. These paintings feel as if they emerged from the hot earth itself: warm and deep oranges and browns, as earthy as one imagines Spain to be. The saints sit steadfastly in their voluminous, course robes, complex godly thoughts straining their faces, their gnarled hands like roots from the ground, painted with love and precision. Sweet and lavishly-coloured egg-shaped Marys look down graciously from turbulent clouds, stars lacing their heads, and their hands gracefully prayerful. The painterly precision of these paintings is delicious.

1280px-Diego_Velázquez_-_The_Three_Musicians_-_Google_Art_Project

The three musicians (1617-18), by Velázquez

But the most heart-warming picture is the Three musicians (1617-18), who normally live in Berlin, painted when Velázquez was only eighteen years old. One hears Velázquez bursting, like his compatriot Dalí many centuries later, ‘Hurry up and grow old—you are horribly “green,” horribly “bitter.” How, before I reached maturity, could I rid myself of that dreamy and puerile infirmity of adolescence?’ This painting has the colouring of his other Seville paintings, and even the same sort of characters. His understanding of light and shade is solid, and his composition is far more daring than a youthful still life, with extremely satisfying design elements like the sure sweep through the boy’s downturned hand. The perspective through the instruments is endearingly skewed, but otherwise it is difficult to fault his execution. Yet Velázquez is not yet himself, and in but a few short years, at the nearby Waterseller of Seville (1622), we are treated to such an advancement in modelling, in tonal and pictorial hierarchy, in the treatment of texture, and in the pronounced fullness of forms, that we must be aware that we are in the presence of greatness. And this is only the beginning. For the lesson of Velázquez is that one can always learn, and always advance, and each mastery of a skill attained only opens the door to more powerful abilities to be learned. But the importance of chronology to this exhibition (at least to the painter student) is this: one cannot start at the end, with the effortless and airy brushstrokes of the Rokeby Venus (1648-51). This is an advanced level of fluency with paint, not a careless ‘style’. And we can appreciate this when we see Velázquez’s humble and determined origins, wrestling with the muddy pigments of Seville.

Velázquez

The Waterseller of Seville (1622), by Velázquez

You leave this room through an antechamber with one painting to each side and one before you. These pictures mark an important transition for Velázquez, as the one to your right, a portrait of the distinguished and well-connected Don Luis de Góngora (1622), brought him enough acclaim at the budding age of twenty-four to have him invited to paint a portrait of the King. The humble and elegant Portrait of King Philip IV (1623-4) lies to your left: cropped below the shoulders, as is the Don, and strikingly lit richly coloured flesh is set against caramel backgrounds. Their faces are deliberately planar and hard-edged, everything carefully placed where it ought to be, as though a mark of respect. The king’s hair is one delightful smooth-gelled mass, its rippling but singular volume indicating Velázquez’s sculptural way of conceiving of feathery masses—an early insight into his later facility with wafting hair and explosive lace. In his mind, one suspects, he always saw such indistinct surfaces as full and voluminous forms, whatever his increasingly competent brushwork deceives us into thinking.

Velázquez

Portrait of King Philip IV (1623-4), by Velázquez

King Philip IV was also duly pleased with his Elvis quiff, for he promptly hired Velázquez as court painter and refused to be painted by anyone else. On our way to the dramatic and high-ceilinged Baroque hall of court paintings, we are treated to some luscious larger portraits which begin to exude a confident and expert softness of paint, as though they melted right off the brush. Portrait of a lady (1630-33), pinched from Berlin, and Portrait of Juan Mateus (1632) are stunningly mature works. Juan Mateus’s sharp, black irises peer out of a roughened face. Every lump and pucker is attended to, the heavy bags under his eyes, but with a new delicacy of edge. A haze up close, the features are true and distinct from afar, because Velázquez’s softer mode of painting is not a shortcut or a cover up of a lack of knowledge. Rather, his earlier deliberate work has, over many years, formed a solid foundation for freer movement. His hands begin to catch up with the fleeting impressions that kiss his eyes because he knows what structures lie beneath them. These pictures still carry the warm earthy tones of his saint pictures, the lively flesh set against honeyed caramels, and an elegance of design despite the focus on the faces. There is much use of the space around the figures, and the large and bulging egg-shapes of the bodies are accentuated with arm gestures and clothing embellishments—a happy union of form and design. The woman’s sumptuous dress is faithfully embroidered, her pearls individually rendered, but all lavishness is tastefully subordinated to the greater picture.

velazquez-portrait-of-a-lady-1633

Portrait of a lady (1630-33), by Velázquez

Vienna has surpassed herself: we enter the grand hall decked with court paintings and realise that this entire exhibition serves to showcase her already impressive collection of Velázquez paintings, accumulated through years of intermarriage between Austrian and Spanish royalty. Better than a postcard: receive a yearly larger-than-life painting of your betrothed throughout her childhood and see how that rosebud is blossoming. The absurdity and glamour of court life takes a firm hold of Velázquez and we see him transform yet further: The tiny Margaritas sparkle in their shimmering dresses; the pearlescent and grotesque inbred faces of sickly royalty give him new forms, new shapes and new textures to adapt his well-trained skills to. Parachute skirts and elaborately piled hair fare well under his sense for design. Now Velázquez is such a sure painter that he implies as much as he describes. The complex pattern of Queen Mariana’s light red dress (1651-61) is reduced to a brisker grey and red contrast of shapes that offset to produce a shimmering pink and silver. And, of course, Vienna’s starlet, The Infanta Margarita Teresa in a blue dress (1659), famously shimmers at a distance, though up close her dress seems but a careless spattering of blues, of dull grey and neutral yellow. The liveliness of this painting and the sureness of touch become quite clear when it is hung next to a copy, as it cleverly is here. Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo’s green dress variation (1659) fails to translate the illusion-generating contrasts into green and gold. Worse, his fast and loose brushstrokes don’t hang from a knowledgeable scaffolding: mashing on some white fuzz where lace ruffles ought to be does not begin to approach Velázquez’s light touch that actually indicates a full structure.

Velázquez

The Infanta Margarita Teresa in a blue dress (1659), by Velázquez

More corridors bring us to the finale, a room packed with deftly-executed works, many as humble as the earliest, though bursting with the vigour of experience. Velázquez is not consumed by the grand regal images, but brings his evolved powers afresh to small, dignified portraits and allegorical pictures. Several dashing moustachioed Spaniards, their pencil-thin moustaches all pointing towards heaven and no doubt goading Dalí to painterly greatness, use all of his accumulated knowledge in a stripped-back, elegant manner. Portrait of a man (self portrait?) (c. 1630) boasts a daringly rough edge sweeping down the side of the thinly painted black coat. The audacity of this gorgeous mark is enough to make a painter tingle. The nebulous cloud of hair floats thick but weightless about Velázquez’s brow, and a subtle twinkle plays in his quietly thoughtful eyes.

Velázquez

Portrait of a man (self portrait?) (c. 1630), by Velázquez

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A small, near-square Female figure (Sibyl with Tabula Rasa) (1648) is equally limited in colour, and the sibyl is draped in simple cloth, but this picture is wonderfully composed. Her gorgeous profile is in shadow, but her rosy cheeks glow fiercely; the background quietly supports her, making a dramatic but somehow unobtrusive change from dark—behind her light hair—to light—behind her shadowy face. The sibyl herself is full and round like a Rubens figure, and the arcs through her body and clothing and arms enclose her in a deliberate though unselfconscious design.

Copy after Velázquez

Copy after Velázquez, female figure (Sibyl with Tabula Rasa)

And, unless you began the show at the end (as did I, breathlessly storming the marble staircase of the Kunsthistorisches after too many months away), you will at last come face to face with the infamous Rokeby Venus (1648-51), who stares blithely back at you through a dimmed mirror right above her achingly lovely behind, which you had hoped to appreciate unnoticed. I’ve heard her lauded as ‘the finest nude;’ Kenneth Clark (1985: 141) registers her importance by including her as the first picture in his comprehensive book on The nude, though only describes her as ‘dispassionate.’ And what shall I say of her? That the silks and satins, breathily painted, must be intentionally course to dazzle us by how perfectly fleshy that pale and luminous figure is? That Velázquez is a master of subtlety? The quietness of the pink, blue and white is in remarkable contrast to the sizzling red-oranges of Seville and the fanfare of colour of the court. This painting is a mystery to me, a surprising anomaly in Velázquez’s oeuvre. Perhaps its brilliance lies in his ability to bring a lifetime of learning to this age-old subject and treat it with fresh delicacy and empathy. For Velázquez could not even paint a nude without regard for her thoughts, reflected back at us in her defiant face, just as his brush illuminated peasants, saints, kings and princesses and dwarves with equal dignity.

Velázquez

Rokeby Venus (1648-51), by Velázquez

And so, in mastering our craft, we mustn’t get ahead of ourselves and try to start at the end. For our humble beginnings are cementing the foundation for our careers, for our entire lives. And whether we paint peasants or royalty, clay pots or pearls, our brush should focus with devotion on the excitement of the visual, on the possibilities of paint. The painter makes no moral judgements, but casts her levelling eye over all humanity and finds its dignity through the language she knows: the language of shapes and forms and colours. And in the end, it is all made of earth.

 

Clark, Kenneth. 1985 [1956]. The nude: A study of ideal art. Penguin: London.

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Zwischen zwei Städte

Wanderlust © Samantha Groenestyn (oil on linen)

Wanderlust © Samantha Groenestyn (oil on linen)

Suddenly Rosita comes in with breakfast and brings me a piece of news that throws me into a joyous ecstasy. Tomorrow will be the 19th of July, and that is the date on which Monsieur and Madame arrived from Paris last year. I give an hysterical yell:

‘So I haven’t arrived yet! I haven’t arrived. Not before tomorrow will I come to Port Lligat. This time last year, I hadn’t even started my Christ! And now before I’ve so much as come here, my Assumption is almost on its feet, pointing to heaven!’

I run straight to my studio and work till I am ready to drop, cheating and taking advantage of not being there yet so as to have as much as possible already done at the moment of my arrival. …

In spite of all my stratagems to savour the last moments of my absence with an intoxicating intensity, here I am, finally home in Port Lligat. And so happy!

(Salvador Dali, p. 55)

Life drawing 0

It seems inevitable that I will live between two cities, and the pendulum has swung me back to Wien, sparkling Vienna, where I am taking time to breathe the fresh, cool air, savour the creamy coffee and gorge my hungry eyes on art. Most importantly, I’m setting up here with the primary aim of painting. My little Dachgeschoss studio is set up, my Dutch paints bursting from their tubes, a big, fresh roll of Belgian linen that I rolled home on my bike shivers in anticipation, and I have christened the floor with turpentine that I kicked over in my painterly haste. And I have cheated time, starting a little interior days before my arrival in Vienna! Yes, it’s not until tomorrow that I arrive!

Life drawing

Already I’ve met with my old friends in the galleries—Rubens, Van Dyck, Klimt and Rodin—and already I’ve fallen for many more, my sketchbook always in tow. Sketch clubs are sprouting like tulips all over the city, and I’m managing to satiate my drawing habit with more success than last year. And best of all, the ever-optimistic Jacques is a winning sidekick, ever adept at simplifying life and focusing on the work that really matters. As ever, we are scheming, and bursting with ideas, and trying to merge our art and science worlds that we see as springing from the same impulse, the same curiosity and wonder of the physical world.

Because, in the words of Editors, ‘If something has to give then it always does,’ and when life is crowding out the important things you have to put life firmly in its place, and regroup.

Straße

 

Dali, Salvador. 1966 [1964]. Salvador Dali: Diary of a genius, an autobiography. Trans. Michel Déon. Picador: London.

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