Tag Archives: African American artists

Albrecht Durer ( the projectionist )


The Vision projector'
The Vision projector’

Albrecht Durer loved projection. He would have had great fun with today’s technology. In the fifteenth century, as an artist, one had to be a great draftsman. They expressed themselves but not in the manner we do today. Things have truly evolved in that respect.

If we go back to cave painting, we can see how they expressed themselves beautifully without draftsmanship as we know it. On The Island of  Saint John in the Virgin Islands, I trekked down into a valley to see hieroglyphs. They were hard to find. But finally, we did. There were about three small pieces carved into stone at the foot of a water fall and as it had not rained for awhile we could see them clearly. They were beautiful expressive faces with a design around them somewhat like a snake. I  think this work would come under the heading of primitive or Caribbean art. I have a problem with this description. It’s art. I would like to see the art world stop pigeonholing art. When they speak of African American art it separates it from what? Eskimo art, Puerto Rican art. Why say Afro American?

Do we say European American art when we talk about William de Kooning or Piet Mondrian? No, we just call them American  artists. Art produced by any nationality is just art.

Bob Thompson often comes under the heading , African American Artist. African art is fantastic, but why co-mingle it with an American artist who’s family has lived in America long before de Kooning and Mondrian came over. Or me, I was born in England and I am not regarded as an English American artist.

Why are there Folk artists? Why do we separate the arts? My friend Bob Thompson was a great  artist. He could translate Goya, Valesquez and the Renaissance painters every bit as well as Picasso could translate  them for us. We don’t refer to Picasso as ” Spanish French Artist. There is talk of where he came from but that’s all.

Thompson was just a great American artist who burned out at 29, not an Afro American artist. He has had great success, but,  I think this label  has done him more harm than good. Artists like Red Grooms, Lester Johnson, Bob Beauchamp and myself who were and are in pursuit of  different approaches to humanism are not pigeonholed. So let’s call artists artists and stop with the pigeon holing.

Back to Albrect Durer. As artists we  project our inner thoughts onto a canvas. In this work, I like the idea of making an image of what could be Durer but in an opposite mode of what he was trying for. A work on canvas is two dimensional and artists have constantly tried to attain depth and perspective. That is a practice that can be deceptive. or illusional. It  is still two dimensional no matter how many train tracks disappear into the distance. Sculptors can achieve three dimensions but you still cannot see the whole thing. Its like as humans we can never see our own faces in 3D. Every other part of our body but never our face.  In a mirror it is two dimensions. So a painting theoretically is more complete than sculpture. So be it sculpture or painting, both come from our projection onto it. Durer was trying to project a perfect image whereas today we project our feelings onto a material.

So I enjoyed doing a work that showed a projectionist  working on perfection in a very imperfect way.