Project Three – Research Point: Viewpoints

For this research I did not know first how to tackle it. I searched through some books form the reading list, searched online and actually got some references during my last museum visit. At the end I choose three examples (one from the course material). I felt attracted by the works of Amy O’Neill and Alain Huck and I was wondering how to see some of their work in the context of earlier works.  By that I was positively surprised what this research exercise really gave me in understanding.

Example 1:

– A straight view on the subject with strong tonal contrast.
– Keeping the lowest part of the picture plane in deep black. The visual effect is as if the objects appear out of the darkness.

– Scale! Tacita Dean’s work is around 10-15x bigger and even during the process of drawing he worked on several levels. Seurat’s work is by that much more intimate, but also less overwhelming for the viewer.
– Medium: Interestingly Dean works on black support with white chalk for the positive shapes. Seurat works on yellow coloured support with black chalk for the negative space, but also leaving some of the support in the negative space.
– Visual depth: Dean embraces the large physical space of the subject with his large scale. Seurat adds some items in the foreground to build up believable depth.


Example 2 (work in series – could fit to the previous research on series as well):

– A frontal viewpoint on the same glacier in the mountains (it seems to be a quite popular view for artists)
– Underlying the importance of the rough structure of the glacier through bold markings and leaving certain areas in the picture untouched (paper colour exposed).
– Interplay of light/shadow and keeping the surrounding mountains rather dark.
– Working in series on the same scene
– I do not know the scale of 0’Neill’s drawings but I assume they are somehow in the range of Turner’s works (sketchbook format?)

– Turner is taken a much lower viewpoint to make the rough structure of the glacier more monumental, emphasized further by the upwards movement of the surrounding mountains.
– O’Neill is working in serie to show the differences in an otherwise quite stable glacier (to mention here that also Turner did several works in different techniques on that scene). She also shows her working progress through keeping the compositional grid  in the drawings.
– O’Neill works out more the patterns of black and white and with at times rather abstract strokes
– O’Neill drawings emphasized much more on certain edges. Turner is doing this to some extent in his work ‘Mer de glace‘, 1812 as well but O’Neill modulates the thicknesses of the edges quite intensively. By that she conveys the monumental impression of the glacier and the surrounding mountains.

Example 3:

– Viewpoint quite similar, eye level from a standing position (like working on location)
– Strong contrast of light and shadow

– Courbet is working realistically with rendering of the different shapes of the boulders etc. and he works in color
– Huck’s charcoal drawing on much larger scale is rather abstract patterns conveying an eerie atmosphere through superimposed images.



  • A simple scene can be turned into a different picture depending on the viewpoint and medium used.
  • Contemporary artists are working more into the surface, often at larger scale, and often rather in black/white instead of color.
  • Bolder strokes and emphasize of edges and patterns are a more contemporary approach.
  • Conveying with abstract pattern a perception of form is typically a contemporary approach.

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