Monday, August 23, 2010

Underpaintings Updates

Ramon Casas i Carbó (1866-1932)

It never fails, that once I put up a post filled with images I labored to find, a month passes, and I find a painting which I wished I had included in the original article.  Such was the case with Random Inspiration: Ramon Casas i Carbó (1866-1932);  not long after I published the story, a great painting by Casas showed up at auction.  I had hoped that it was the first of many more works coming to surface on the internet, and though I have found several other works by Casas in the past year, that first one was the best by far.  I've decided to share it here.


Albert Herter (1871-1950)

There have been several times where I have put up a post, and I have later received messages from people who were in some way connected to the article I wrote.  When I put up the post on Albert Herter in September of 2009, I received word from a gentleman whose family once owned the Herter estate, El Mirasol, in California.  He is the same person responsible for the HerterArt website, and was kind enough to provide a link back to my blog.  As a child at El Mirasol, this gentleman was amazed to see Albert's mastery of so many different mediums, and the site he has developed to honor the Herter family's artistic talents is a fascinating read, and a testament to how strongly aesthetic beauty can impact a child's life.


Charles Courtney Curran (1861-1942)

After putting up the post on Charles Courtney Curran, I was not surprised to hear from some of the artist's relatives.  I knew the family members were out there, and that they possessed some of Curran's originals;  one of the images in the post had appeared earlier in 2009 on the Antiques Roadshow, when one of Curran's grandchildren was looking for more information on the artist.

I was surprised, however, to hear from someone at Ball State University's Museum of Art regarding Charles Curran.  The museum's director, Peter Blume, and his assistant, Carl Schafer, had undertaken a grant to enable the university to digitize the 11,000 works in their collection, and the photographer they employed, Steve Talley, contacted me to let me know that he had just pulled a Curran painting out of storage and had photographed it for the DIDO Project (Digital Images Delivered Online).

The painting is back on display and has become popular amongst the employees and student guards.  It was also used on the University's Museum Alliance handbook last year, to the surprise of many, who were unaware the museum possessed the work.

Also regarding Charles Courtney Curran- Fine art and antique dealer Kaycee Benton is currently preparing the catalog raisonné on the artist, and is seeking any and all information on him.  I look forward to the volume's completion.


Elizabeth Sparhawk-Jones (1885-1968)

During one of my trips to visit the Putney Painters in Vermont, the members, while sitting at their easels,  were discussing brush handling in various works of art when someone brought up the painting, The Shoe Shop, at The Art Institute of Chicago.  Suddenly, Richard Schmid turned to me and said, "That's who you should write about on your blog- Elizabeth Sparhawk-Jones!"  So, given that charge, I set out to learn more about Sparhawk-Jones, of whom I knew next to nothing.

Sadly, in researching Sparhawk-Jones online, I found there was really very little interest in the artist, and therefore, very little about her to be found.  The one exception to this was the site developed by writer Barbara Lehman Smith, who was, at the time, compiling a book about Sparhawk-Jones.  Smith had been the accidental recipient of three boxes of private papers belonging to the deceased artist, and this serendipitous event compelled the author to write about the artist's tumultuous life.

Smith's book, Elizabeth Sparhawk-Jones: The Artist Who Lived Twice, has since been published, and is now available for purchase.


New Book From Dorian Vallejo

Since putting up the post about Dorian Vallejo's recently published book of drawings, Dorian has added a gallery to his site featuring original works he has created for the Collector's Editions of Drawings:  Inspired by Life.  The online gallery can be seen by following the links on Dorian's website.


Ryan S. Brown

Artist Ryan S. Brown, a finalist at this year's Portrait Society of America's Annual International Competition, was one of the artists whom I listed in my regular section, What's on View.  Ryan's 2010 solo show held at Astoria Fine Art in Jackson Hole, Wyoming was a success, and the artist shared a video of his opening night on YouTube.


The Marquardt Beauty Analysis Mask

I did several posts in the past using the Beauty Masks developed by Dr. Stephen R. Marquardt in his attempts to find an objective manner in which to measure the human perception of facial beauty.  My research into applying Marquardt's masks to art was, for me, an interesting diversion begun nearly ten years ago, after seeing Marquardt and his theories on the BBC mini-series The Human Face, hosted by John Cleese and Elizabeth Hurley.  When I decided to do a series of articles on the construction of the human head based on ideal proportions, the MBA mask was the first subject that came to my mind.

Original image plotted using the female mask.  Pitt's features fill it well enough, with the exception of his more pronounced jawline, a desirable trait in males.

The updated image plotted using the male mask.  Although this fits Pitt's jawline and face width better, it does not align as well with his nose and mouth as did the female mask.

When the Marquardt Beauty Analysis site makes claims that they are doing further research, and updating their mathematical measurements to create more specific gauges for beauty, they are not joking.  I first visited the MBA site years ago, and when I did, there were no separate masks for smiling females, nor for males in repose.  I think MBA has even added new editions to their site since my original post on the subject.

Beckham plotted using the female mask.  The athlete's features fit the mask extremely well, better than many female celebrities.

Beckham plotted using the male mask.  The female mask provides a better fit, which perhaps indicates an ideal beauty, rather than a male beauty.

Sadly, when I created my two articles on the Beauty Masks, I did not update my personal research into developments made at the MBA Center.  I had only gotten as far as learning they had charted objective measurements for smiling females, when I stopped updating my earlier investigation, and relied upon the notes and downloads I had made many years ago.  What this meant for the illustrations I used in my posts were that the exemplars of men measured using the "universal" Beauty Mask were no longer accurate-  I should have used the more recently created Male Beauty Mask.

The original plotting of Jay Leno using the female mask indicates that the star has a pronounced chin, a trait for which he is well known.

The updated plotting using the male mask matches Leno's eyes and jawline better, but suggests that his nose and philtrum are short for his head-size.

Using the Male Mask, I have finally re-plotted the faces of the male celebrities I had shown in my previous posts, and have included them here along with their earlier, female counterparts.  The original articles can be seen here:



David McLeod said...

Matthew, I've been a regular on your site now for 6 months and am now going to officially follow. Thanks for all the great posts...keep them coming.

jenl* said...

This is the best informative sight ever...I love it Matthew!

loveyourmother said...

Very fascinating post. You (& the creator of the mask) should definitely look into the research of Weston Price. He was the lead researcher of the ADA, trying to figure out what had happened to Americans' facial structure so that so many of them had crowded teeth, narrow palates, sunken cheekbones, and the like.

In an attempt to see if rumors were true that these things didn't affect so-called "primitive" peoples, he traveled the world in the 1930s, to secluded Alpen valleys, remote Scottish isles, Africa, the South Pacific, northern Canada, and the Seminoles of Florida. He found that those still on their native diets, no matter what those diets were, had broad faces, broad cheekbones, strong jaws, strong chins, strong foreheads, well-spaced eyes, broad noses, and wide dental arches. These were true across all ethnicities.

As soon as those people began to consume the foods of modern commerce (processed milk, oils, grains, etc.), their children's facial shapes changed. Close eyes, pinched noses, turned up nosees, long connections between nose & lip, etc. The theory of the day was that these changes were due to intermarrying among ethnicities, but he proved conclusively that it was due to diet.

He documented his research with hundreds of photographs. His seminal work, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, is available free online. The photographs are priceless. They are invaluable to any work attempting to determine what the human facial norm is, and also in separating out the difference between normal, inherent beauty, and extraordinary beauty. Most of the beauties of old that you mapped (Dietrich, Monroe, etc.) are just physically normal - nothing spectacular about their looks. Some, however, are outside the human norm and into the realm of extraordinary beauty.

Astounding, too, is to look at the facial structure of the youngest stars and realize there is no facial beauty among them. Shia Labeouf, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian all have terrible, terrible facial structure. Most children born today have close-set eyes, thin noses, sunken cheekbones, underdeveloped chins, weak jaws, extended ears, or all of the above. The dearth of beauty is so bad that even Hollywood is now starving for it.

Price's work is crucial to anyone studying the dimensions of beauty.