Friday, November 1, 2013

Rico Lebrun

Preface:  I did a series of portrait drawings called Ten Architects of Consequence in 2011 and am presently working on a new series called Ten Artists of Consequence.    These are architects and artists that have had some unique affect on me over the years.  Although I may write about other people I plan to include at least some of these “mentors” in my monthly journal entries. Here I begin with Rico Lebrun.

Two of my portrait drawings bookending the yoythful Rico Lebrun

I first became aware of Rico Lebrun (1900-1964) during my first year of architecture school at USC.  The Art and Architecture schools shared a common courtyard with a gallery and a series of surrounding display cases.  About the only art I had previously seen were prints of Thomas Gainsborough’s “Blue Boy” and “Pinky” hanging in my parent’s bedroom and I had no idea what to think of these strange black and white images.  After plenty of exposure to life, art, and aesthetics I came to be a big fan of Lebrun’s drawings and he still serves as something of a mentor to me, as he did to the likes of Howard Warshaw and Leonard Baskin.  The power of his dark values and his mastery of suggestion are unparalleled. After the Master’s Artist Barry Simons and I went to Lebrun’s vacated studio in Brentwood to see if there were any scraps left behind.  All we found we’re telephone numbers and anatomical doodles on the wall where the telephone had once hung.

Some say his book Rico Lebrun Drawings is the best book on drawing ever written.  Vivid in my memory is this excerpt:  “My little line takes a walk,” said Klee.  “As if mine didn’t,” said Tintoretto.  And another:  Do not use calligraphic barrel rolls in combat.  They are not organic.  Do not gun the engine when you don’t know what else to do.