Monday, September 19, 2016

The Great Artists - Romantics & Realists - Courbet

This documentary is just under an hour and fairly informative on the artist.  I chose this one because it goes along with my recent post that shared Harold Speed's words about keeping your work honest. It's quite hilarious that Courbet is known as the father of realism yet he pretended to be something he was not.
I also found it amusing how they pulled back the curtain to reveal that this "self-taught" artist actually had a fairly impressive education.
Something that really struck me though was the commentary on his lack of knowledge of perspective. A few posts back I wrote about how I'm compiling notes and things I've collected over the years into a book. In that post I asked where to begin. Where should you start a book, or better yet where do you start your education? If you want to become a painter where's the most important place to start? So many books I've been reading claim that perspective is an essential, some say most important aspect, part of the puzzle. In this documentary it's noted that this is where Courbet lacked knowledge. So in his self-guided art education he may have danced around this topic.  After it's pointed out it's pretty obvious that he did have a lack of knowledge, or chose to not remember it? Either way, it helped reiterate the fact that perspective is extremely important. 


  1. I always thought his composition was a bit wonky - crowded at the bottom, seesaw groupings, vague at the top, etc. But I wonder if the flatness and lack of perspective was from painting in one figure or item at a time as a concept (or remembered) rather than a scene that was live or posed in front of him in one lighting situation. The seascapes suggest he had the ability to see and render naturalistic lighting, especially that Swiss lake scene toward the end.

    1. Yea, that's why I questioned whether or not he chose to ignore and not even a conscious decision. A lot of painters, even with the best training, still crowd things, but go back and correct them. I can't imagine attempting to get everything correct at such a large size as some of his work. On a small painting you can step back and check your drawing, or even flip it upside down to see the mistakes, but if it's 6 foot tall and 8 feet wide it's not so easy.