The connection that occurred to me is this: both of them
demonstrate How to Do It. If you wanted to learn how to draw complex renderings
of people or places with dynamic composition, wonderful shading and skillful
pencil work, the Bellows show is a place to go and learn it. You could do a lot
worse than copying a few Bellows drawings to pick up some big-league drawing
Dodd is worth emulating as well, though not the same way.
You wouldn’t copy her works to learn technique, although she has a sure hand.
What you learn with her paintings is that she makes the composition and color
coherent in special, unexpected ways. It’s a process of personal discovery
fueled by skill and interest both in the subject and in the act of painting.
Learning to do that won’t make you as good an artist as Dodd, but it will help
you discover what good art is.
There’s a compound irony here. Judging by the BFA show at
MECA, there’s currently not a lot of interest in drawing or painting among
students. Meanwhile, relatively small paintings, both abstract and figurative,
are on the leading edge in New York
art. Big spectacular installations and overwhelming events are becoming
ordinary and tame (see Roberta Smith on the Carnegie
International in the New York Times or any of a number of recent articles
on the Whitney Biennial). Away from New
York things do seem a little behind the times, or, as
Willem de Kooning put it, when you see a bandwagon it’s too late to get on it.
By Ken Greenleaf