Blind Contour Drawings of Genius

Blind contour drawing

is a method of drawing widely used by art teachers, where an artist draws the contour of a subject without looking at the paper
(Rodin) never (took) his eyes away from the model and with his swift, experienced hand entirely abandoned to the paper – Rilke
« C’est bien simple, mes dessins sont la clef de mon œuvre » RODIN 

A Reclining Female Nude, Arms Folded over Her Head, ca. 1910
Graphite on thin smooth white wove paper
30.3 x 19.9 cm

Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
Bequeathed by Mrs. H.H. Turner, 1959

“Rodin’s drawing has an intimate and personal quality, free from any apparent categorical styles or conventions of the period. It is essentially a contour life drawing, which almost looks like childs’ scrawl. As Rainer Maria Rilke wrote in 1902, “(Rodin) never (took) his eyes away from the model and with his swift, experienced hand entirely abandoned to the paper…,” it is generally understood that Rodin’s drawings were produced without looking at the paper, but only at the model. Graphite pencil, made of a crystalline form of carbon, was an indispensable tool in such production. Given that no interruption was required, the carbon could be used until the artist was finished. Rodin saw his objects in lines rather than in masses. The result looks like a scribble at first glance, but every line is actually a part of the body. Reworked lines may temper original distortions, but the continuous initial strokes are evident. Toes are in careless lines and hair is almost smudged, but the body possesses reasonable proportions. Even the ankle bones are not omitted. What appears to be a hastily drawn figure demonstrates Rodin’s economy of lines.”


« La main va au petit bonheur ; souvent le crayon tombe à vide ; le dessin se trouve décapité ou amputé d’un membre…Le maître ne l’a pas regardé une fois. En moins d’une minute, cet instantané du mouvement est pris… », témoigne Clément-Janin en 1903

« Ce premier jet acquis, Rodin reprend son œuvre, parfois la corrige directement d’un coup de crayon rouge, mais le plus souvent, c’est en la calquant qu’il la rectifie… », continue Clément-Janin.

” (L’erotisme) … est un genre qui, comme le pastiche, ne supporte pas la médiocrité. C’est pourquoi, au risque de faire hurler, il faut maintenir le constat que l’érotisme est d’essence aristocratique.” Phillipe SOLLERS Nouvel Observateur – Hors-série le bonheur – 1998

“Comment décrire cette chair qui me rend si attentif?” _ RODIN


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