Friday, 9 September 2011

UnMasterclass 36

Last week UnMasterclass saw a strange sight in a visit to Manchester Art Gallery. There, in amongst the Pre-Raphaelite paintings, was a wooden easel. Behind this easel was an earnest, wild-haired man careful re-creating a William Holman Hunt in freshly sharpened HB. He was in particular attempting to capture the expression on the lamb’s face, who is perched on the lap of a young woman who is, in turn, the subject of a flirtation with a hired shepherd. UnMasterclass watched at a distance, thinking that here was, in action, something that UnMasterclass has been bemoaning is absent from aspiring painters of today. As we watched some thoughts occurred to us. This man did not appear to be on the cutting edge. In fact he did not appear to be on the edge at all, certainly not a contemporary one.Infact we found it hard to think of the man we were seeing as being an artist; maybe he was more likely to be an amateur artist. This was confirmed when we got talking a few minutes later. 
This was when another thought occurred to UnMasterclass. Perhaps the reason why we no longer see aspiring painters learning from original paintings is because of the connotations of either being seen as a school-kid or more tellingly that of the amateur artist. To learn from directly painting original masterpieces in the galleries is also at odds with the contemporary world. Art has always responded to this idea of the contemporary world and as we live in a world of tweets and jpegs, so perhaps the earnest, wild haired man behind his easel in the gallery is also something of the past. Maybe the amateur artist remains at this status (as opposed to simply an artist) because they do not respond to the times, they only show what is there in a (sometimes) faithful representation of the world, based upon representational art of the past. Something we at UnMasterclass are not particularly interested in. Back to the drawing board, or rather the portable easel! 
See the latest UnMasterclass here

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