Thursday, July 3, 2014

At the British Museum

At the British Museum the Prints and Drawings galleries are on the 4th level. The best thing about these rooms is that they offer the visitor a quiet place to view work, which is not the case for much of the Museum. The amount of people and the noise can sometimes be a bit disturbing. 

At the back of the Prints and Drawings gallery is a room, a study area, where you can view the work of any artist you care to name. Deborah took some candid shots of me looking at these Degas drawings, which were stunning. I also browsed through folios of Holbien, Lautrec and Eric Gill. Gill's drawings were a revelation because of their pristine clarity, and his pencil portrait profiles were amazing. 

In the public gallery there were various states of a linocut print by Picasso. From first to final print, the changes from the reduction cutting technique were extraordinary. Trying to work out the next stage in the progression of the work seemed so complicated, but the final print was fabulous. 

Although Picasso didn't cut his lino, the decisions were of course made by him. Personally, I would prefer to do the whole thing myself, but throughout history, most great printmakers had craftsman cut or engrave their images. This means though, that the rhythms of the craftsman are what you see in the end, because it's impossible to trace the rhythms of another artist even in the form of a drawing. It can be close, but not exact. That's why I think a craftsman is sometimes more than the term suggests.

I think the next time I'm at the British Museum, a visit to the study area is a must.