An Art Lesson at the Carlos

On Friday, Sept. 21, the Michael C. Carlos Museum debuted its “Drawing in the Galleries” event, which allowed artists to sketch ancient sculptures from the Greek and Roman galleries.

Guest speaker, award-winning architect and artist Lane M. Duncan provided a comprehensive demonstration and presentation focusing on how to capture the human figure on paper. Inspired by the history of copying works from the great masters, Duncan and Carlos Museum Director of Education Elizabeth Hornor have collaborated to reserve the Carlos Museum every month this fall for artists to have the exclusive opportunity to draw directly from famous museum works.

“For centuries, the great museums of the world have let their collections be opened for artists to copy and learn from the great masters, and that’s how you get better,” stated Duncan. Emory University staff and students, as well as participants from the surrounding Atlanta community, sketched the human figure by modeling the four statues of Aphrodite, Apollo, Terpsichore and Hermes. The artists were guided by ongoing instruction and historical background from Duncan.

The idea behind this event was to “let people come in, talk and realize that these [sculptures] are living presences, that these are real things that are really influential,” stated Duncan.

Duncan’s live demonstration helped artists master sketching the human body and its precise proportions. He introduced new techniques of building upon each layer of sketches while also equally partitioning the human form. However, it was his unique emphasis on the motivational background of each sculpture that truly allowed participants to appreciate individual statues for their historical and artistic values.

“If you can understand the human figure and its perfection, it gives you a mathematical set of relationships that you learn as you start making architecture, and it’s carried down until today,” stated Duncan.

Duncan sprinkled his demonstration with inspirational stories of famous sculptors including Vitruvius, da Vinci and Michelangelo. He also discussed the importance of understanding the works of the masters and their long-standing influence today.

“I found it exciting to look at these great objects and try to put it down on a piece of paper,” said one participant.

“It was just fabulous fun! I felt like I was back in art class,” described another artist. For the first hour, Duncan focused specifically on the Greek sculpture of Aphrodite, goddess of love.

Participants sketched her full figure and posture by modeling his unique approach of drawing from the inside out. After his guided instructions, artists divided throughout the gallery to pick various statues to sketch, while Duncan circled the participants, giving them individualized attention, advice and answers whenever needed.

From this event, the Museum hopes that the participants will “just have a good time, as they are here to learn,” said Hornor.

The “Drawing of the Galleries” event will be held again on Oct. 19 and Nov. 16. Spaces are available on a first-come, first-served basis and can be reserved by calling the Carlos Museum.

— By Fiona Zhao