Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Gothic Spirit of John Taylor Arms

Where: National Gallery of Art, West Building

When: through November 27, 2011

John Taylor Arms was the heir to John Ruskin, who championed the Gothic Revival style in the 19th century.  John Taylor Arms' intense devotion to craftsmanship was associated with medieval artists.  Early in the exhibit were some gorgeous doglike gargoyles.   At some point, I learned that gargoyles are actually functional; they act as waterspouts.  Grotesques, on the other hand, although they look like gargoyles, and could easily be mistaken for them, are strictly decorative.

Arms created a lovely drawing of the National Cathedral; sadly it was never made into a print, as Arms died before he could complete the project.  Another work on display is a drawing of the Grolier Club Library.  Arms drew this in just over two hours as a demonstration of his art.  It looks like a great library.  Also included are some prints of Venice, which reminded me of the view paintings I saw in the East Building a few months ago.

Arms' dedication was truly amazing; he spent almost 200 hours creating one etching plate - the detail and dedication are tremendous.  He looked through three aligned magnifying glasses when working on the plate.  A quotation from Arms that I just love is, "I cannot etch what I do not love."  The ability to work at what one loves is no small thing.

There are also on display three prints by artists other than Arms; they are similar, but they somehow lack the precision of Arms' work.

Verdict: I was pleasantly surprised by this show; I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I saw many thing to admire.

No comments:

Post a Comment