Friday, January 1, 2010

Hoyt Sherman and Oskar Kokoschka

While reading "Oskar Kokoschka as Teacher" by James Toub in Journal of Aesthetic Education (Vol 28 No 2, Summer 1994, pp. 35-49), I ran across a passage that reminded me of the drawing in the dark (or flash lab) methodology of Ohio State University art professor Hoyt L. Sherman. Compare, for example, this excerpt (p. 43)—

Kokoschka believed that in the initial moment when the eyes are shocked by a stimulus, one sees the figure and space around it as a unity. The veil of theoretical or technical artifice is transcended, and the artist sees nature in a purer, more spontaneous and uninhibited manner. When one covers a student's eyes and suddenly removes ones hands [as Kokoschka sometimes did] the sudden transition from darkness to light forces the eye to see the whole in an instant. Only later does the eye break an object down into its component parts. This dramatic visual shock, Kokoschka believed, heightened the student's awareness and forced him to experience the image visually, not interpret it intellectually. Capturing the instantaneous vision forced students to select and eliminate superfluous details that might obscure or fragment the larger relationships.