Daily Updates: ICAA Paris Drawing Tour

Follow the ICAA daily from April 23rd through April 30th as we study the classical architecture, interiors, and landscapes of Paris through observational drawing and painting. Based on the ICAA’s annual Rome Drawing Tour, the Paris program is led by prominent architect Kahlil Hamady and designer Leslie-jon Vickory, alongside renowned watercolorists, Bernd Dams and Andrew Zega. Daily blog posts are provided courtesy of Rebecca Allan, MFA, who has joined the ICAA in Paris for this remarkable tour.

A master metalsmith at work in foundry of the Ateliers St. Jacques at the Fondation Coubertin

The enduring value of France’s fine crafts and their preservation through education were the main focuses of the past two days on the Paris Drawing Tour. Thursday, April 28th began with an incredible private tour with Francois Jourdan, President of the Fondation Coubertin, located about 45 minutes by bus from Paris, in Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse. The Coubertin Foundation maintains the traditions of the fine manual trades by training young people (under the age of 30) in the crafts of fine furniture-making, metalwork, and stonework. Within the foundation, the four workshops of L’Atelier Saint-Jacques are dedicated to producing as well as restoring masterworks such as Rodin’s Gates of Hell, which was first made at the Coubertin foundry using the lost-wax process.

Musée de l’Armée (Source: Wikipedia)

Returning to Paris, we met Andrew Zega and Bernd Dams at Les Invalides, where they introduced the history and architecture of this complex of buildings that served as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans. The buildings house the Musée de l’Armée, the military museum of the Army of France, the Musée des Plans-Reliefs, and the Musée d’Histoire Contemporaine, as well as the Dôme des Invalides, a large church with the burial site for some of France’s war veterans, most notably Napoleon Bonaparte.

One of the sitting rooms at the Musee Nissim Camondo with a voyeuse à genoux, a type of 18th century chair intended for spectators of card games.

On Wednesday, April 27, we began the day with a fascinating tour of the Musée Nissim de Camondo (part of Les Musée des Arts Decoratifs) with Jean-Pierre Constant, decorative arts scholar and lecturer at the École Constant. While it is filled with some of the most extraordinary examples of 18th-century French decorative arts, the Musée Camondo is imbued with a layer of melancholy, as it was a home occupied by a divorced man who lived there alone after a series of family tragedies. Moïse de Camondo, a Turkish-born Parisian banker during the Belle Époque, was a passionate collector of French furniture and art objects from the eighteenth century, and he amassed a collection of unusual quality.

In 1911, he hired architect René Sergent to build a private mansion next to the Parc Monceau that would be worthy of this collection and suitable for his family. The design was modeled after that of the Petit Trianon in Versailles, but behind the décor of wood-paneled apartments were hidden the accouterments of modern life. Camondo intended to give the mansion and collection to his son Nissim. But Nissim was killed in World War I. After this tragic loss, he decided to bequeath his property to Les Musée des Arts Décoratifs. During World War II, his daughter, Béatrice and her family died in the Nazi camps.

Drawing of the Musee Nissim Camondo by Leslie-jon Vickory

Later in the day, we met at the Louvre to see a comprehensive exhibition of the French painter Hubert Robert (1733-1808). Robert’s views of classical and contemporary architecture were enormously popular during his lifetime. His depiction of immense, crumbling monuments of an imagined past earned him the nickname, “Robert des Ruines.” We also took advantage of the opportunity to visit Napoleon’s apartment before the museum closed.

Tour participants examining rare books, manuscripts and architectural treatises at the Bibliothèque Mazarine.

On Tuesday, April 26th, the Paris Drawing Tour participants used the singular colors and materials of the architecture of Paris—distinguished by nuanced yellows and greys—as a portal for understanding the city. Engaging with this specific aspect of the city, the group took up sketchbooks and watercolor brushes to record their observations of the Louvre’s courtyard. The original plan to work outdoors in the Cours Carrée was thwarted by 40-degree temperatures, and we were welcomed by the Cafe Marly staff to take over their tables (underneath heat lamps, thankfully), where en plein air became possible. The morning objective was to make studies in wash. Instructor Kahlil Hamady asked everyone to focus on articulating passages of space by noticing how the cloud-filtered light could be translated through diluted watercolor pigment. Remembering a point that draughtsman Bernd Dams made the day before, I thought about how drawing, like sleep, cannot be rushed and is therefore one of the most direct routes to cultivating deep concentration.

The afternoon was devoted to artist Andrew Zega’s demonstration of his technical process in watercolor. Zega began by showing images of bird paintings by Louis Agassiz Fuertes (1874-1927) an American ornithologist and illustrator, as well as Albrecht Durer’s beautiful study of grasses. Returning to the underlying principles of the behavior of light against both natural and manmade surfaces, he emphasized the purposeful choice of materials such as Arches hot press watercolor paper, which is chosen for its ability to stand up to repeated layers of wash, and its warm white tone. Zega’s method (never clean your palette!) for rendering things, such as aged stone, soot trails on a slate roof, or varieties of moss in an antique garden urn, highlighted the continuity of his practice and the alchemical aspect of painting. Vestiges of old colors left on a dirty palette are the basis for the next painting’s undertones. In their respectful and painstaking approach to classical painting, Zega and Dams remind us that, when we give ourselves over to the humble observation of the material world, we appreciate more fully the legacy of classical art and cultural history. We are as a result inspired to champion and preserve it.

There is no more distinguished repository of cultural history than the Bibliothèque Mazarine within the Palais de l’insitut de France. Originally created by Cardinal Mazarine (1602-1661) as his personal library, it holds one of the richest collections of rare books and manuscripts in France, and is the oldest public library in the country. On a private tour led by Monsieur Yann Sordet, Director and Chief Curator, we viewed a selection of rare architectural treatises and pattern books, including Vitrivius’ and Serlio’s treatises, in addition to other original historical documents. We concluded the day drawing in the library as evening light filtered through the mullioned windows, in view of (portrait busts of) a few great thinkers including Marcus Aurelius, Benjamin Franklin, and Seneca.

Kahlil Hamady with tour participant, Cheryl Tague

On Monday, April 25th, participants absorbed a full day of lectures including “Traditions of Architectural Rendering,” and “History of the City of Paris and French Classicism,” in the immaculately organized and beautifully appointed surroundings of Andrew Zega and Bernd Dams’ studio.

Trained as both architects and historians, Zega and Dams are consummately skilled artists known for their expert restitutions of historic buildings. Zega discussed the history of architectural drawing and its evolution as a scientific subject emerging in the 15th century as artists flocked to Rome and other classical sites, to document their newfound interest in antiquity. Calling our attention to the representation of architecture in the resplendent Gothic manuscript, Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, Dams pointed out how 14th-century French artists were nonetheless depicting architecture in a rather rudimentary way, compared to their Italian contemporaries.

 

2016 evening formal dresses

Students purchasing drawing supplies at Sennelier

The artists also described their own working process, a rare collaboration in which Dams (who describes himself primarily as a draughtsman), creates precise drawings in pencil on Arches watercolor paper in preparation for Zega to fully render them in watercolor. Our group then visited Sennelier, a renowned art-supply store, on the Quai Voltaire, to select materials for their drawing and watercolor painting practice. Finally, enriched by the day’s historical and technical teachings, we walked to the Cours Carrée at the Louvre, where we ended the day intrepidly drawing in spite of the chilly Paris air.

 

Andrew Zega with Paris Drawing Tour participants

On Sunday, April 24th, participants arriving from the U.S. and Italy for the ICAA’s inaugural Paris Drawing Tour gathered at the studio of Bernd Dams and Andrew Zega, a few blocks from the Louvre, for a celebratory welcome reception. Architect Kahlil Hamady and architectural designer Leslie-jon Vickory, who co-organized the program with the ICAA, discussed its purpose—to enhance the knowledge of American architects, designers, and students in French classical architecture, interiors, and landscape—before describing some of the remarkable sites that participants would be visiting, from the Bibliothèque Mazarine, France’s oldest public library, to the Fondation de Coubertin, an organization which supports the professional, intellectual and cultural formation of young people through vocational training in metalwork, carpentry, and stonecutting. Leslie-jon and Kahlil talked about the incredible generosity of the architects, designers, craftsman, curators, and other specialists in Paris who are enthusiastically opening their doors in order to share their knowledge with us.

Posted by Education ICAA on | Leave a comment

Watch Lecture: “A Mirror to the Frick: The Collector Museums of Britain, 1870–1920,” with Giles Waterfield

On Wednesday, April 27th the ICAA and The Frick Collection co-hosted “A Mirror to the Frick: The Collector Museums of Britain, 1870–1920,” a lecture by Giles Waterfield. In his lecture Waterfield, art historian and author of The People’s Galleries, examines the creation and proliferation of private collections in Britain that became museums – from the Bowes Museum, to the Wallace Collection, to the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery. Do they resemble the Frick, or are their collections and aspirations wholly different?

 

Posted by Richard McGovern on | Leave a comment

Abraham Thomas brought “the Grand(er) Tour” to the ICAA

Drawing from the Alhambra Palace, Owen Jones (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

On Monday, April 11th, the ICAA was proud to present a lecture in partnership with the Royal Oak Foundation entitled The Grand(er) Tour: Architectural Imagination Beyond the Classical World. Abraham Thomas, formerly the lead architectural curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum and Director of Sir John Soane’s Museum in London, spoke to a number of trends in international travel that impacted the architecture of the 19th century and beyond.

The focus of Mr. Thomas’ discussion was the Grand Tour, a European tradition that was undertaken by young scholars, the noble gentry and artists who desired to tap into the inspiration of the sites across Europe that had shaped the arts and culture of their times. These works ranged in date from antiquity through the Renaissance. Common tours would include time spent travelling to modern-day wonders like Greek and Roman temples, venturing over Alps and across channels, or communing with locals of the resident high society.

“Temple at Barolli”, lithograph from a sketch by James Fergusson (Source: British Library)

Mr. Thomas spoke at length on a number of the architects that completed Grand Tours, and how these traditional voyages were changed when young architects began to travel further, visiting areas including India, Egypt, the Middle East and Japan which influenced the styles of both their work and the work of future generations. By highlighting numerous drawings, photographs and other works from the Royal Institute of British Architects, Mr. Thomas shed light on the influence that these novel designs and types of buildings must have had on young architects of European training.

buy ball dresses NZ

Abraham Thomas speaks in the General Society’s reading room

According to Mr. Thomas, it was this spirit of exploration and the embrace of other cultures that led us to our current architectural atmosphere. The vast array of styles and designs in use today can be seen in the range of Mr. Thomas’ own work, which has included curating exhibitions from 19th century drawings to some of today’s most modern and provocative designers such as Thomas Heatherwick. His focus has ranged from the local to the global, and the modern to the classical.

Posted by Maxwell Wimmer on | Leave a comment

RECENT EDUCATION PROGRAMS AT THE ICAA

April has been an exciting month for the ICAA. The ICAA co-hosted the annual Dan and Gemma Camp Lecture in Classical Architectural Design with Mississippi State University. This year, acclaimed architect and architectural historian, Michael Fazio presented his lecture, “Benjamin Latrobe and the Design of the Rational House.”

Michael Fazio presenting his lecture

While Latrobe is best remembered for designing the White House and U.S. Capital, he was also responsible for reinventing suburban American homes. Over 100 guests came out to hear Fazio elucidate this pivotal development in American architectural history.

The ICAA’s Education Department stepped outside of New York to host a Continuing Education course, “Learning from Jefferson and His Successors,” at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

Carroll William Westfall guiding tour participants at the University of Virginia

This two-day program explored the rich architectural landscape of the university’s campus. Participants were in good hands as Carroll William Westfall, architectural historian and professor Emeritus of the University of Notre Dame’s School of Architecture, guided the group through sites that included the Special Collections Library, Cabell Hall, and Garrett Hall. The ICAA would like to thank the University for hosting our program and welcoming our participants to campus.

 

The ICAA’s North Carolina Chapter partnered with Salem College to host a Historic Building Trades Workshop. This program investigated how to work with historic building materials and surveyed potential problems and solutions found in woodworking, brick masonry, and plasterwork.

Participants exploring plasterwork

With esteemed, practicing professionals leading the workshop—including Daniel Chasse, Wayne Thompson, and Patrick Webb—participants watched thorough demonstrations and were able to gain hands-on experience with these traditional materials.

 

Finally, the ICAA’s Utah Chapter hosted “Analysis of Architectural Design Composition: How to Study Buildings and Precedent.” This course unpacked how classical architectural compositions of existing buildings can be used as models for new designs. The course culminated in an outdoor session in which participants applied what they had learned in the previous day’s lecture to sketchbook exercises.

To find out more about upcoming ICAA educational programs, please visit http://classicist.org/programs.

Posted by Education ICAA on | Leave a comment

Daily Updates: ICAA Paris Drawing Tour

Follow the ICAA daily from April 23rd through April 30th as we study the classical architecture, interiors, and landscapes of Paris through observational drawing and painting. Based on the ICAA’s annual Rome Drawing Tour, the Paris program is led by prominent architect Kahlil Hamady and designer Leslie-jon Vickory, alongside renowned watercolorists, Bernd Dams and Andrew Zega. Daily blog posts are provided courtesy of Rebecca Allan, MFA, who has joined the ICAA in Paris for this remarkable tour. 

Tour participants examining rare books, manuscripts and architectural treatises at the Bibliothèque Mazarine.

On Tuesday, April 26th, the Paris Drawing Tour participants used the singular colors and materials of the architecture of Paris—distinguished by nuanced yellows and greys—as a portal for understanding the city. Engaging with this specific aspect of the city, the group took up sketchbooks and watercolor brushes to record their observations of the Louvre’s courtyard. The original plan to work outdoors in the Cours Carrée was thwarted by 40-degree temperatures, and we were welcomed by the Cafe Marly staff to take over their tables (underneath heat lamps, thankfully), where en plein air became possible. The morning objective was to make studies in wash. Instructor Kahlil Hamady asked everyone to focus on articulating passages of space by noticing how the cloud-filtered light could be translated through diluted watercolor pigment. Remembering a point that draughtsman Bernd Dams made the day before, I thought about how drawing, like sleep, cannot be rushed and is therefore one of the most direct routes to cultivating deep concentration.

The afternoon was devoted to artist Andrew Zega’s demonstration of his technical process in watercolor. Zega began by showing images of bird paintings by Louis Agassiz Fuertes (1874-1927) an American ornithologist and illustrator, as well as Albrecht Durer’s beautiful study of grasses. Returning to the underlying principles of the behavior of light against both natural and manmade surfaces, he emphasized the purposeful choice of materials such as Arches hot press watercolor paper, which is chosen for its ability to stand up to repeated layers of wash, and its warm white tone. Zega’s method (never clean your palette!) for rendering things, such as aged stone, soot trails on a slate roof, or varieties of moss in an antique garden urn, highlighted the continuity of his practice and the alchemical aspect of painting. Vestiges of old colors left on a dirty palette are the basis for the next painting’s undertones. In their respectful and painstaking approach to classical painting, Zega and Dams remind us that, when we give ourselves over to the humble observation of the material world, we appreciate more fully the legacy of classical art and cultural history. We are as a result inspired to champion and preserve it.

There is no more distinguished repository of cultural history than the Bibliothèque Mazarine within the Palais de l’insitut de France. Originally created by Cardinal Mazarine (1602-1661) as his personal library, it holds one of the richest collections of rare books and manuscripts in France, and is the oldest public library in the country. On a private tour led by Monsieur Yann Sordet, Director and Chief Curator, we viewed a selection of rare architectural treatises and pattern books, including Vitrivius’ and Serlio’s treatises, in addition to other original historical documents. We concluded the day drawing in the library as evening light filtered through the mullioned windows, in view of (portrait busts of) a few great thinkers including Marcus Aurelius, Benjamin Franklin, and Seneca.

Kahlil Hamady with tour participant, Cheryl Tague

On Monday, April 25th, participants absorbed a full day of lectures including “Traditions of Architectural Rendering,” and “History of the City of Paris and French Classicism,” in the immaculately organized and beautifully appointed surroundings of Andrew Zega and Bernd Dams’ studio.

Trained as both architects and historians, Zega and Dams are consummately skilled artists known for their expert restitutions of historic buildings. Zega discussed the history of architectural drawing and its evolution as a scientific subject emerging in the 15th century as artists flocked to Rome and other classical sites, to document their newfound interest in antiquity. Calling our attention to the representation of architecture in the resplendent Gothic manuscript, Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, Dams pointed out how 14th-century French artists were nonetheless depicting architecture in a rather rudimentary way, compared to their Italian contemporaries.

 

2016 evening formal dresses

Students purchasing drawing supplies at Sennelier

The artists also described their own working process, a rare collaboration in which Dams (who describes himself primarily as a draughtsman), creates precise drawings in pencil on Arches watercolor paper in preparation for Zega to fully render them in watercolor. Our group then visited Sennelier, a renowned art-supply store, on the Quai Voltaire, to select materials for their drawing and watercolor painting practice. Finally, enriched by the day’s historical and technical teachings, we walked to the Cours Carrée at the Louvre, where we ended the day intrepidly drawing in spite of the chilly Paris air.

 

Andrew Zega with Paris Drawing Tour participants

On Sunday, April 24th, participants arriving from the U.S. and Italy for the ICAA’s inaugural Paris Drawing Tour gathered at the studio of Bernd Dams and Andrew Zega, a few blocks from the Louvre, for a celebratory welcome reception. Architect Kahlil Hamady and architectural designer Leslie-jon Vickory, who co-organized the program with the ICAA, discussed its purpose—to enhance the knowledge of American architects, designers, and students in French classical architecture, interiors, and landscape—before describing some of the remarkable sites that participants would be visiting, from the Bibliothèque Mazarine, France’s oldest public library, to the Fondation de Coubertin, an organization which supports the professional, intellectual and cultural formation of young people through vocational training in metalwork, carpentry, and stonecutting. Leslie-jon and Kahlil talked about the incredible generosity of the architects, designers, craftsman, curators, and other specialists in Paris who are enthusiastically opening their doors in order to share their knowledge with us.

 

Posted by Education ICAA on | Leave a comment

The Architecture of New York

The New York Chapter of the ICAA recently hosted a four-part lecture series, illustrating the history of New York City architecture from the 18th century to today. During each two-hour class, noted architectural historian Francis Morrone captivated his packed-to-capacity audience with lively anecdotes and observations about the buildings that have shaped the city throughout history.

Lectures featured a wide variety of New York’s residential architecture, such as this clapboard Federal style home at 17 Grove Street.

“Francis is an engaging storyteller, taking students on an architectural history tour that weaves through the city and in and out of a larger, worldwide context,” said local architect and class participant Ian Lauer. “His narrative provides a fundamental understanding of the built world that is New York, and it encourages us — designers, artists, and enthusiasts — to go out and seek inspiration from the city’s architectural heritage.”

New York’s many Gothic Revival structures, such as Trinity Church, were deeply influenced by the ideas of British architect Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin.

Each illustrated lecture featured a wide selection of New York buildings, from humble townhouses to icons like St. Patrick’s Cathedral, City Hall, and the Chrysler Building. Of particular note to many ICAA members was the influence of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts on the prominent architects of the late nineteenth century, and consideration of how their training enabled them to apply classical design principles to new building types such as public libraries and tall office buildings. The series concluded with a lively discussion of recent development in NYC, ranging from examples of new classicism to the controversial Calatrava PATH station. Informal receptions followed each lecture, allowing students to continue the conversation beyond the classroom.

Posted by Education ICAA on | Leave a comment