Thursday, September 22, 2005

Paintin' purty pitchers . .

Katie tells a pretty interesting story today. Really. In her Thursday column entitled They're mastering the old painting techniques, she tells the story of a Twins Cities art – painting, really – school called Atelier. Spotty used to go past the school often on the way to work when it was housed in a building in the Uptown neighborhood and was called Atelier Lack, the “Lack” part being the name of the founder. Atelier has not been around long enough to be an institution yet, but it is headed that way.

In summary, the column tells the story of Atelier’s teaching of classical painting technique:
Richard Lack, a Minneapolis native and internationally renowned painter, founded the Atelier -- first known as Atelier Lack -- in 1969. Trained in Boston, he practiced a style of realist painting directly descended from the French Academy, a center of the 19th-century art world. But in the 1950s and '60s, Lack and artists like him were shut out of galleries and museums as the juggernaut of modern art swept all before it.
But, as usual, Katie wants to make sure that we come away from the article with the Point. So, in typical Katherine Kersten fashion, we get hit upside the head with the Point several times:
Not surprisingly, the Atelier teaches foundational artistic techniques that generally get short shrift -- if they're taught at all -- at today's art colleges and university art departments. It's a demanding, time-consuming process. "Our society teaches that art should be easy," Wicker [one of the school’s directors] said. "But it's not. There are no shortcuts."
That’s a priceless quote for Katie. Apart from wondering how Katie was able to make a nation-wide survey of art colleges and departments and inventory them on painting technique, Spot observes that the Wicker quote reinforces two important things in the Kersten Credo: 1) we are a nation of shiftless slobs headed directly for hell without even a proper hand basket, and 2) nothing after the nineteenth century is any good at all. We all know that Katie yearns for the thrilling days of yesteryear.

Here’s how Atelier does it:
The Atelier uses the time-tested apprentice system. With 18 full-time students, it offers a four-year program of sequential study based on personal critiques of student work. As in the days of Michelangelo, students painstakingly study anatomy, composition and classical drawing and painting techniques. The school also offers individual classes for part-time students.
Katie especially likes the painstaking part. It appeals to her constricted asceticism. We do get a sense of Katie’s bewilderment at modern art when she says:
Today, establishment art programs generally discourage -- even frown on -- representational art.
Indeed, Katie, why can’t they just paint purty pitchers? Spot bets that Katie never colored outside the lines, ever. The Italians painted pictures of the Madonna and Child for hundreds of years; why stop now?

There is one little thing. Katie writes:
The centerpiece of the Atelier's program is figure drawing, a mainstay of traditional art training. Every morning of their four-year program, in a scene straight from Paris in the 1850s, students gather with easels in a big skylit room and paint for several hours from a live model.
Katie, did you know that the models are usually NEKKED?

No comments: