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Post #696 • December 28, 2005, 7:10 PM • 29 Comments

I've been working on some stuff.

Comment

1.

John Sanchez

December 28, 2005, 11:36 PM

Franklin, these are awesome!

2.

Jack

December 28, 2005, 11:54 PM

Very nice, Franklin. I've been looking at the graphic work of Frans Masereel recently, which is both somewhat similar and rather different. For one thing, he tended to rely more on solid black areas as opposed to using black to outline his forms. His style is also more angular and stiffer than yours, which is more fluid and sensual. You must have a show of these, properly mounted and in a congenial space.

3.

Jack

December 29, 2005, 2:04 AM

For a sample of Masereel (who invented the graphic novel), go here:

http://www.graphicwitness.org/historic/s01.html

Clicking on the image will take you to the next image (there are quite a few). These are from Masereel's Die Stadt (1925). He was actually Belgian, but there are obvious German influences.

4.

Jack

December 29, 2005, 7:31 AM

OK, so I'm taking over the thread, but only because no else is posting.

Actually, Franklin, if I were a local dealer or high-powered collector, I'd be all over these drawings. I've certainly seen considerably weaker ones at the "best" places in town. Of course, you can do the math.

5.

flojo

December 29, 2005, 8:05 AM

oh Jack you almost did not complain till this last one, so close so close. Franklin this work rocks, it WOULD be nice to see them in person.

6.

oldpro

December 29, 2005, 8:13 AM

Masereel is excellent, Jack. Kind of like George Grosz does Rockwell Kent. There were a couple that were outstanding, 2 of the bar scenes and the fireworks one. Thanks!

Are they drawings? They look like woodcuts.

7.

Franklin

December 29, 2005, 8:17 AM

Thanks, guys!

BTW, probably the best resource for Masereel is Amazon, believe it or not. Shambhala, who normally does Eastern religion, martial arts, and that kind of thing, did reprints of a few of his works in 2000. I should probably snap these up before they go out of print.

I'd be really pleased if I could bring some of these works out of obscurity. Incredibly, my post from five days ago is the #1 Google result for Balthus Mitsou.

8.

Jack

December 29, 2005, 8:22 AM

Flojo, surely you don't begrudge me venting my spleen in this stultifying world of artsy Stepford Wives, where it's not "good form" to be truly critical or uncompromising (too authoritarian, you know, not to say fascist). If you want properly modulated and soporific, I mean soothing, "nice" talk, there are other places to get that. Besides, there has to be some counterpoint to the general "I'm OK-you're OK-it's all OK" artspeak. We can't all go around like zombies on Prozac.

9.

Jack

December 29, 2005, 8:25 AM

Oldpro, they're woodcuts. He also tried his hand at painting, but that's not where his real talent lay.

10.

Franklin

December 29, 2005, 8:34 AM

Strictly speaking, I think they're wood engravings. Engravings are done on the end grain of harder wood with these really beautiful little tools, and you can get a finer line out of them. Tom, you there?

11.

ahab

December 29, 2005, 8:56 AM

I kinda like your drawings, Franklin. Thanks for posting them. As I was viewing them initially (not yet having read the 'about' link) I wondered about the origins of each composition. They didn't generally seem to be actual settings you had sketched in realtime, and I didn't get the impression that they were from photos (though many of the figures seem to stare out at the viewer as if waiting for the click of the shutter). "Woman Mopping a Storefront" makes use of a very high viewpoint, not impossibly so, but unexpected for sure, and it is obvious that most of the pictures are imaginitively invented rather than strictly transcribed. "WMaS" is one of half a dozen that I quite like. What size is it?

I can appreciate the lure of the evenly balanced high contrast cartoon-vignette. It is a very 'plain-spoken' mode that you use to describe your subject with an unquestionable integrity. There is no, "I wonder if a woman mopping a storefront in Taiwan actually looks like that?" I like this form of record much better than the photos you posted awhile ago.

Jack's graphicwitness.org link demonstrated a definite aesthetic likeness of your work to Masereel, whose fascination with the seediness of the city in turn reminded me of Edward Gorey. Gorey is more a mannered byproduct of the great etchers Jack linked to recently than of Masereel, but something about both artists' interest in diametric compositions seems appropriate to your own turn with the brush. Speaking of which, it's too bad there isn't some way to activate the white space more; or to make the white feel as deliberate as the black does. Obviously the black is a result of the direct touch of the brush, while the white just seems incidental in all but a couple of yours. Masereel transcends this sort of critique by causing the white space to be nearly as descriptive as the black, almost as though he has drawn the white itself; but I feel his draftsmanship to be somewhat forced whereas yours by speed of execution feels less worried. Your rarely used drybrush does serve to activate the white space to some degree in an image like "Office People." The handle of the woman's mop in "WMaS" is also a convincing way to causing the surrounding white to carry more significance.

I would also like to see a little less homogeneity of figures; or rather, more variation in figural features, especially facial expression - unless you're deliberately imagining every person with a MonaLisa smile. Could be that you're sharing smirking stares with everyone there, what with the shock of culture you have in common.

Just posting a long one to keep Jack from feeling too lonely.

12.

ahab

December 29, 2005, 8:59 AM

Sure, everyone came out of the woodwork once I started composing what I thought would be comment #5.

13.

ahab

December 29, 2005, 9:04 AM

The Masereel's online look like pixel engravings.

14.

Jack

December 29, 2005, 9:06 AM

No, Franklin, they're woodcuts. The Doré images I linked to previously were wood engravings, though they were made "after" Doré, not by him. But yes, Tom's input would be most welcome and appropriate.

And thanks, Ahab. Nice comment.

15.

Franklin

December 29, 2005, 9:20 AM

Ahab, they're all about ten inches high. A lot of the drybrushing is disappearing in the reproductions - they're contrasty, but not as much as they appear here. About the smiles - I know, this is weird, but people are really happy and friendly here and laugh a lot, for the most part. It's so alien to what I experience in Miami that it's jumping out at me, I guess. Thanks for your comments.

16.

George

December 29, 2005, 9:33 AM

Franklin, hmm…
Aside from the fact they are in black and white I don’t see any connection with either Masereel or Gorey. ( Psst, my thanks to Jack for the link on Masereel as I found them to be quite interesting)

bla bla bla (the analysis)

My first reaction this morning: This style of expression seems to ring true for you, retire the palette knives and run with this until you faint. Everything else will resolve itself in due course. (read the above like a Chinese Fortune Cookie)

Saw, the Fra Angelico exhibition at the Met today, WOW! it was fantastic beyond belief. I had a lot of fun discussing the paintings with other revelers from in and out of town. There was a spillover from the VG drawing show which had a long wait but everyone seemed happy with Fra Angelico. T'was, well, festive.

Big surprises were
a. How good the color is, just fantastic as can be.
b. The incredible paint surfaces, almost sculptural in places with the gold leaf working visually like a hologram. Also, the textural surfaces are set in beautiful counterpoint with the velvety surface of the painted areas
None of this reproduces at all, nada, zip.

Thought you were going to write something about this, yes?

Also saw the Rauchenberg Combines, let's just say 1955 was a good year for art.

17.

ahab

December 29, 2005, 11:13 AM

"Aside from the fact they are in black and white I don’t see any connection...."

I agree that any relationship to Gorey is only by way of the back alleys that are my own meandering associations.

But in relation to Masereel is b/w really such an insignificant similarity, George? How about the way that black and white are used? How about the rectangular format; the yin/yang-like balance of positive and negative space; the cartooned (I do not mean "cartoonish") nature of the figures; the portrayal of a distinctly individual experience of an urban setting; the snapshot quality of figures caught in the middle of some mood or action; the quickly-apprehendable nature of each depicted scene; etc and so forth? Not to mention Franklin's statement crediting Masereel.

"bla bla bla (the analysis)"

Are you trying to say that you're bored here?

18.

Jack

December 29, 2005, 11:15 AM

Ufortunately, due to health problems, aging or other factors, Rauschenberg's recent work is not very substantial--it's almost evanescent. What I saw by him at this last Basel was sad; I can't imagine it would have gotten any significant notice if it didn't have his name attached to it. Of course, we all know that a big enough name, regardless of the actual work, is plenty good enough for many peopl--and not a few museums.

19.

George

December 29, 2005, 11:34 AM

ahab, no not bored.
My "bla bla bla (the analysis)" was a self deprecating remark as I refused to make any analysis other than the traditional bla,bla,bla. As I see them, Franklin's ink drawings are consistent with other works of his and they feel honest to me.

He is in a foreign country with a fresh studio and materials. He just put up a lot of drawings on the website for us. It is as if we are all friends and he has allowed us in his studio. There must have been thirty drawings, in how many days? Add it all up, it feels like a production burst through a vortex point to me, which is a rare event and should be nurtured to its conclusion. The only advice I would ever offer in such a situation is "don't think, just keep on doing whatever you are doing"

20.

oldpro

December 29, 2005, 12:59 PM

Did anyone see the 2 hr special on art on PBS?

I can't believe I watched the whole thing.

21.

jordan

December 29, 2005, 7:13 PM

Regardless of your 'source' Franklin, your drawings are splendid. I really enjoy the charming content and framing. The framing enhances the compositional placement of the figure/ground relationships you've selected. Nice.

22.

George

December 29, 2005, 10:59 PM

offTopic but here's an article for OldPro
Quantum Trickery: Testing Einstein's Strangest Theory from Tuesdays NY Times.

Teaser...
"Apparently a particle in one place could be affected by what you do somewhere else.

"That's really weird," Dr. Albert said, calling it "a profoundly deep violation of an intuition that we've been walking with since caveman days."

Physicists and philosophers are still fighting about what this means. Many of those who care to think about these issues (and many prefer not to), concluded that Einstein's presumption of locality - the idea that physically separated objects are really separate - is wrong."

Happy New Year everyone

23.

oldpro

December 30, 2005, 12:15 AM

Thanks George. I have the article, from the Tues Science section of the Times (one of the few parts of the Times I read thoroughly) and I will read it as soon as I get the chance. This stuff fascinates me. Frankly, I don"t see how they can look at this kind of basic, utter & illogical uncertainty and still believe in the ponderous, old-fashioned idea of the "big bang". I'm waiting for that argument to break out of hiding.

24.

catfish

December 30, 2005, 1:20 AM

George and oldpro: when science begins to merge with cosmology it is hard to "believe" any of it, except as speculation that is most likely to be replaced with different speculation sometime in the future. But fascinating it certainly is.

Frankly, "intelligent design" seems to cover cosmological issues pretty well, as long as the term is not used as a substitute for the Book of Genesis, thanks to its vagueness. "Utter & illogical uncertainty" could be "intelligent design" viewed through the limits of human intelligence. Circular? Of course. But so is this type of "science", especially when it attempts to assign probability values to uncertainties.

Sometimes it feels like my head is stuck inside a virtual reality machine that has fooled me thoroughly for longer than I can't remember.

25.

catfish

December 30, 2005, 1:22 AM

Of course, seeing that my post is dated tomorrow does nothing to aleviate the feeling that my head is stuck in a machine somewhere else.

26.

oldpro

December 30, 2005, 1:57 AM

Catfish writes: "Utter & illogical uncertainty" could be "intelligent design" viewed through the limits of human intelligence.

That is exactly how I meant it. I'm sorry if it was not clear. When something occurs consistently in nature and it is "illogical" you know something is going on that has to be dealt with. That is what is so interesting.

I also don't understand the evolution vs intelligent design vs fundamentalist argument. God could create evoliution, or create the whole universe and all our memory of it last week, for that matter. What's the problem?

27.

George

December 30, 2005, 2:03 AM

Certainly a lot of the speculative thinking is physics is mind bending because it requires that we grasp ideas which seem counter intuitive to our Newtonian world view.
Initially the ideas and implications of quantum mechanics seemed impossible, needless to say the reason you are reading this is because they are not.

28.

catfish

December 30, 2005, 5:34 AM

The only problem I have ever had with "intelligent design" is when it means taking the Book of Genisis literally, or be labelled a sinner, or a traitor. Personally, "intelligent design" seems like a very plausible explanation. To think the universe is an "accident" doesn't gel very well, not to mention that the reality of "accident" is difficult to understand without recourse to the reality of "intended".

29.

onesock markie

December 31, 2005, 9:45 AM

these are superb! I really like the buying apples and the old men playing especially.

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