Summer School / / Composition and the Crowd

What is a crowd? And what is a crowd in a painting? Spectators, apostles, saints, soldiers, keepers of the watch, martyrs, strollers in the Tuileries, circus performers, prostitutes on the Kurfürstendamm... A crowd is a subject, a vehicle of meaning, an entity made up of multiple entities. From the Egyptians to Duccio to Degas, in photography and the moving image, crowds have been depicted throughout history. The crowd emanates emotion from celebration to grief and all shades in between. Crowds have a shape, as starlings demonstrate in their murmurations, dogs when they shepherd sheep, police when they kettle demonstrators. Painters from Bruegel to Daumier have always wrestled with the paradox of a crowd: each an individual, but making a mass.

We will consider the subject and the object of a crowd, by looking at paintings, working from them, and then drawing from models in the studio, seeing how their forms relate and what can be drawn from them. We will explore how to compose and contain the mass. Scale and size are important elements in finding a way of retaining movement in the group. We will use paper, cut-outs, charcoal, paints and our wits. All manner of materials can be used to encompass the whole. This course provides a rare opportunity to work with a group of several models on four days as well as a trip to The National Gallery.

*The course fee reflects working with groups of models throughout the course.