Here is a drawing with attitude:
This working drawing by Adolph Menzel (1815 – 1905) is an astonishing ballet of hand and eye. Look at the speed and clarity with which he captures the most telling details of a military coat:
|Sharp realism combined with abstract design|
These long, sweeping lines show Menzel’s confidence:
But mostly I like Menzel’s attitude toward this drawing. Rather than place it on a shelf to be admired, he marks it up with notes as if he were a master carpenter plying his trade. The notes are part of the artistry of the sketch:
Contrast Menzel’s empty coat with this far more famous empty robe series by pop artist Jim Dine:
Dine’s “fine art” pictures of empty robes are treated with reverence and sell at auction for over $100,000. But I have no doubt that Menzel’s working sketch is the superior work of art.