|Al Held from 1965|
To say as I did earlier that I learned most drawing techniques on my own is true only in part. In some cases what teachers conveyed often in passing only made sense years later. Or there was something in the professor’s own work that was unclear to me at the time. This was particularly the case with Al Held, whose mid career work was for the most part unknown to me when I studied with him at Yale. It generated its energy by reversing figure and ground thereby upsetting our normal relationship to the world, where we are interested in the objects in front of us not the negative space behind it. Someone who gave me the facts like Sergeant Joe Friday in the TV show ”Dragnet” ("Nothing but the facts Ma'm")was Erwin Hauer a protégé of Albers at Yale, whose architectural screens from the 60’s are being rediscovered. He conveyed to me how in sculpture to express the pneumatic aspect of living beings. It all started in his figure sculpture class where my initial efforts to sculpt showed no respect for the surface tension of the human form in the clay model. He kept repeating that representing what is seen on the surface is how you understand what is underneath. He told me to abandon the figure sculpture I was working on to sculpt a rhinoceros thighbone , a relic from the zoology department. Continuity of surface became the mantra as he had me physically touch the contours of the bone to feel the movement of the surface in space.
|Surface tension is conveyed in drawing with directional parallels as shown in this drawing of Durer|