Dan Rose has published another artist book. This one, FACES, is a group of invented portraits that delve into, visually fiddle with, and vainly try to comb over the thinning hair spots of robots—and ask:  What are we to make of the evolving relationship between human and robosapiens? 

Marcel Storr, bâtisseur visionnaire, English Version

One draws cities for practical and for visionary reasons. Whatever they may draw as preparation, usually builders are preoccupied with cities that can be built and lived in. As in New York, where there is not much difference between the drawings of Hugh Ferriss and the Chrysler or Empire State buildings, in Paris the difference between the visionary city and the one which exists is less clear than in other places. Haussmann’s projects were, for better and worse, the personal dreams of an imagination pierced by perfect boulevards. The Haussmannian approach was a response to practical needs which nonetheless expressed a very particular aesthetic, more even than the projects completed by Robert Moses in New York. The transformations which took place in Paris under the Second Empire, or even some of the grands travaux of the 1980s, were not far from the drawings of a visionary such as Marcel Storr. Consider the Bibliothèque François Mitterand, a strange building all the stranger for pretending to be rationalist. Once built these projects show us the joys and perils of visionary urbanism.

Marcel Storr, Bâtisseur visionnaire, version française

On dessine les villes pour des raisons pratiques ou visionnaires. D’habitude, les “bâtisseurs” se préoccupent des villes qu’on peut bâtir, où on peut vivre. Comme à New York, où il n’y a pas de différence significative entre les dessins de Hugh Ferriss et les tours Chrysler ou Empire State, à Paris la différence entre la ville existante et la ville visionnaire est peut-être moins nette qu’ailleurs. Les interventions de Haussmann étaient, pour le mieux et pour le pire, des rêves personnels d’une imagination percée par les boulevards parfaits. La démarche Haussmanienne était une réponse aux des exigences pratiques, mais elle exprimait une esthétique très personnelle, encore plus que les projets de Robert Moses à New York. Paris comme elle fut transformée pendant le Second Empire, ou même certains des grands projets parisiennes des 1980s ne sont pas trop loin des dessins d’un visionnaire comme Marcel Storr. Considérez La Bibliothèque François Mitterand, un édifice d’autant plus bizarre pour son rationalisme simulé. Une fois bâtis ces projets montrent les joies et les périls de l’urbanisme visionnaire.

Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan, The National Gallery of Art, London, November 9, 2011 – February 5, 2012

The crowds begin as one approaches the rear of the building: a long line, snaking back on itself contains those hopeful of gaining one of the 500 tickets on sale each day; further on, is a smaller queue of the luckier ones who had snapped up all the online tickets during the first three days of sale. Overall, the crowds are well behaved—for this is England—and approach their goal with good humor and a touch of the spirit of Dunkirk as they descend upon the National Gallery’s runaway success, Leonardo: Painter at the Court of Milan. It is not a large show, only some sixty paintings and drawings, but then Leonardo only began a score of paintings in a career spanning four decades. Of those paintings, fifteen autograph works survive, and four of these are generally deemed incomplete. To assemble almost every surviving painting from Leonardo’s Milanese period in London is a notable achievement, and these works are supplemented by others associated with his followers and sometime collaborators in the most sustained period of productivity in the artist’s life.

Figure, Memorie, Spazio: disegni da Fra’Angelico a Leonardo (Sala delle Reali Poste, Galleria degli Uffizi) and La Grafica del Quattrocento: appunti di teoria, conoscenza e gusto (Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizi), Florence. Closed June 12th.

The first step towards understanding Renaissance drawing is to take stock of the plethora of reasons for its existence, ranging from doodles to elaborate studies in human anatomy. What started as a design for sculpture may well have evolved into a preparatory sketch for painting. Drawing was the artist’s way of jotting down an idea before losing it and before knowing precisely what, if anything, it might develop into later.
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