Friday, 13 November 2009
How About a Big Hand?
I've been sketching as much Civil War era stuff as I can in preparation for my upcoming webcomic THE BROKEN LIGHT. The Metropolitan Museum has a new show of American painting from the late 18th century through WWI. I felt as though it was a mixed bag. There was some amazing stuff, especially toward the beginning, but I think the entire collection failed to be a cohesive whole.
The great thing about researching the civil war is the amount of visual information that exists. Photography was just catching its stride, so there are a lot of amazing (and gruesome) photos, even photographs of paintings that have been lost. In addition, there were great painters working in their prime, not only formally, but ideologically. A great deal of the pictures existed for a political purpose or to make an (often ambiguous) argument.
It is incredible how noble our ideals are, yet how short our actions often speak them. And how this has been the case for centuries. It's so easy to forget how artists were tools not too long ago (and some continue to be). Seeing these artists create their OWN statements, rather than be used to present someone else's is truly inspiring.