For years I have often returned to study the paintings of Amedeo Modigliani. My attraction to his work was obvious, but the reasons for the attraction not so obvious. My recent quest for more control over composition, while dealing with form and the human figure, has made the reasons for my appreciation of Modigliani apparent. In painting after painting Modigliani uses shape to compose his compositions, which are restricted in theme to the human figure. His forms appear to have three-dimensions because he rounds them using value variations which mimic light and shadow. To prove the point, here is a painting my Modigliani.
Notice the way Modigliani shapes the eyes but does not bother to place a pupil or iris. This I would never do, but shape so dominates Modigliani and his expression that the individual nuances of each shape are unimportant. I have found this an effective way to compose, thinking of composing shapes on the flat canvas while acknowledging depth and roundness of forms. I will now show two drawings made yesterday. Each was composed using shape but drawn thinking three-dimensional form.
Another artist I revisit often is Willem de Kooning. He thinks similarly to Modigliani. This is obvious in an early de Kooning. His later work exhibits the same approach albeit confused by his brash use of texture. Here's an "early" de Kooning:
Yesterday I played with these thoughts and made a painting, which took about 3 hours from start to finish.
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