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There are many books extant that deal with the human figure portrayed photographically as well as graphically. And each publishing season finds a fresh series thrown into the market. So many volumes are typographically and artistically engaging, but with that perfection of beauty their purpose appears to end. Most of them are collected from diverse sources (and therefore lack uniformity of creation) and are usually without preconceived purpose or unity of contents. For the most part, their very beauty precludes any utilitarian features.
This is especially true of photographic compilations. While many more of the books limited to graphic depictions have a basic idea for their conception, they are sadly lacking in authentic life and vitality. It has been our aim, and hope, to ideally combine the sharp reality of a photograph and the illuminating and helpful fragments of a drawing and thus produce a volume that will have captured the outstanding features of both arts. This collection is dedicated primarily to the beginner and the student who must learn to work from a living model, yet cannot afford the mounting expense of retaining one for daily use.
Every successful artist has spent the greater portion of his creative years working from a model. No matter how profound his knowledge of anatomy, no matter how skilled and artful his memory may be in its application of the constructive elements of the human figure, he achieves the consummate touch, the ultimate authenticity of the great master by working directly from life.
There is nothing truer to the replica of nature than a photograph. The eye of the lens has the precise and unyielding rigidity of a formula of science. In the hands of a worker who acknowledges its candid limitations only to mold them to his own advantage, the lens can produce photographs that will vie with nature for their incredibly faithful honesty. We have sought in these photographs to establish, as far as possible, a sculptural quality, to make them pleasing without sacrificing any of the clarity or realism of the figures, and whenever feasible, to emphasize any features that should be of special interest to the beginner.
The fine muscular development, the delicately sculptural modeling, the bone structure under the rounded flesh—the combination of photographs and progressive drawings should, we feel, take the place of a living model, and consequently prove of invaluable aid to the beginner and student.
We have chosen to do most of our photographs of the female form. To translate the power of beauty, so perfectly exemplified by a lovely woman's body, is a task toward the success of which the artist must fortify his creative powers with the perfect technique that comes only of long and stubborn and enduring practice. And it is our hope that this volume will reach the field that needs it the most—that of the talented and ambitious beginner who needs to work from the model.
The progressive drawings for this series were done by George B. Bridgman, whose works on anatomy have become classic references for the art students. The photographs of the female form were posed by Desha, the famous dancer. Her flexible and pliant body, her uncannily intuitive knowledge of poses, and her experience in modeling for many of our famous artists and sculptors have made her an ideal subject for this type of photograph. The male studies were posed by Jean Myrio, the French dancer, who was instrumental in introducing the adagio type of dance on the continent some years ago.
NEW YORK CITY. DECEMBER 1, 1934
Excerpted from Drawing the Female Form by George Brant Bridgman, Ben Pinchot. Copyright © 2005 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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