Isabel Bishop museum sketches

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mdmattin
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Isabel Bishop museum sketches

Post by mdmattin » Fri Jan 11, 2019 5:22 am

I went to a show of Isabel Bishop and did some sketches. She was active in the mid 20th Century and focussed mostly on women, either sketched candidly on the streets or hired to model. She created complex compositions based on the sketches, combined and organized using classical systems of proportion and her own ideas for creating a sense of motion in space.

isabel bishop 14th st sketch.jpg
isabel bishop 14th st sketch.jpg (101.51 KiB) Viewed 221 times
Fourteenth St is a small etching from 1931. It shows a crowded street with groups of men in conversation, and two women walking towards us between the groups.
I used Hor:ratio to analyze its proportions and place the figures. It seemed to approximate the traditional format of 4:9, sometimes called the "double diapente," because it can be broken down into two ratios: 4:6, which equals 2:3, known as the diapente, and corresponding to a musical interval of a fifth; combined with another ratio of 6:9, which also equals 2:3, building one diapente on another. In architecture and designs using long drawn out rectangles, like the apse of a church, a special feature would be placed at the 4:6 position to break up the space in a pleasing way.
I think Bishop was doing something like that. The frieze of figures is organized according to 9 vertical divisions, and the two women who are clearly the focal point of the composition are placed between (counting from the right) the sixth and the fourth. The sixth is the diapente, and the fourth makes a square with the end. Applying a square, or rabatment, is a device that appears elsewhere in her work.

isabel bishop bending down sketch.jpg
isabel bishop bending down sketch.jpg (109.01 KiB) Viewed 221 times

This one really entranced me. Simple at first glance, but there's a lot going on. It looks like it was a quick drawing to capture the pose, which she then elaborated and refined.
While I was holding up Hor:ratio to get the proportions, a guard mistook it for a cell phone and came over to chastise me for photographing. He said I was in the "iPhone pose," literally profiling me.

isabel bishop students walking sketch.jpg
isabel bishop students walking sketch.jpg (139.6 KiB) Viewed 221 times

This was a study she did by making a huge photocopy of a painting in progress and diagraming it out with black crayon. Here, she is using rabatment, applying squares to the ends and deriving new diagonals and divisions from their intersections.


isabel bishop fingers sketch.jpg
isabel bishop fingers sketch.jpg (105.39 KiB) Viewed 221 times

This one grabbed me with its interplay of fingers, as one woman is peeling off a second glove while the first dangles from her hand, and her companion has one hand around her arm and the other on her own hip. The actual title is "Spectators."

Matthew

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Andre Jute
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Re: Isabel Bishop museum sketches

Post by Andre Jute » Fri Jan 11, 2019 10:50 am

Sounds like you had a good time, Matthew!

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Rebecca
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Re: Isabel Bishop museum sketches

Post by Rebecca » Sun Jan 13, 2019 5:38 pm

How satisfying!
I searched for any work isabel bishop bending down was based on, and for more developed paintings or drawings, but found nothing. In the process, I tried out what might be a new search feature where you drag an image directly from a webpage (even across tabs) to the top of the google image search page and a box appears for you to drop it. Results can work. In this case, it did not. However the results are always fascinating!
Rebecca

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mdmattin
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Re: Isabel Bishop museum sketches

Post by mdmattin » Sun Jan 13, 2019 8:55 pm

Rebecca wrote:
Sun Jan 13, 2019 5:38 pm
I searched for any work isabel bishop bending down was based on, and for more developed paintings or drawings, but found nothing.
I was able to find one, but it wasn't easy - I've forgotten how I finally arrived at it. It turns out that its home is very close to me at UMass Amherst, so perhaps I will be able to visit it after the show comes down.

UM1997-1.jpg
UM1997-1.jpg (239.38 KiB) Viewed 201 times
The article I found it in isn't bad, either:

https://blogs.umass.edu/arthist391a-kur ... el-bishop/

Matthew

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Re: Isabel Bishop museum sketches

Post by mdmattin » Sun Jan 13, 2019 9:27 pm

Here are a couple of the others from a book I own, Isabel Bishop by Helen Yglesias:

isabel bishop 14th st orig sm.jpg
isabel bishop 14th st orig sm.jpg (151.12 KiB) Viewed 199 times

isabel bishop spectators orig sm.jpg
isabel bishop spectators orig sm.jpg (149.61 KiB) Viewed 199 times

I couldn't find Students Walking, either the study or the finished piece. The show included a lot of things from the private collection of her granddaughters, so perhaps it's not out there.

Matthew

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