Finding poses in old art (Gemäldegalerie Berlin)
Today I went to Gemäldegalerie Berlin, which is a huge gallery of classical art near Potzdamer Platz. It’s lesser known than the museums/galleries at Museum Island but is packed full of legendary art so well worth a visit. I didn’t plan to do a lot of drawing today but ended up spending about 5 hours walking around noting down cool poses in some of the paintings. There’s a gallery below of some of the things I noted down, they are all very quick 30 – 60 second drawings just to remind me of what I was looking at.
It’s surprising how many of the posing issues we talk and learn about in animation can be found in these extremely old paintings. For instance I found artists who had been ‘simplifying’ hand/finger poses into graphic shapes as early as the 15th Century. That is, grouping fingers together and separating only one or two digits. I didn’t use to spend much time looking at such old and biblical paintings but am now finding a new appreciation for them (in the posing of characters).
If you are an Animator or Illustrator, next time you are at a gallery full of classical painting / art try looking for elements within the paintings you find appealing. I feel like I learned a lot from it and found some great characters within some of the old portraits. I also find it really helpful to look at what I consider unappealing poses too. Especially in very early paintings. I think there’s a lot to learn from considering what makes one pose in a painting less / more appealing than the next. And by the way, Italy is well known as a motherland of awesome Renaissance art but I think German art of the same period is seriously underrated. A lot of the stuff I saw today by old German masters was as good as the stuff I saw while travelling around Italy. Just interesting to note I guess. I’ll definitely be going back for another look around!
This dude above (Hieronymus Holzschuher) caught my eye as soon as I walked in the room with the painting hanging in it (obviously above is just my quick sketch, you can find an image of the original painting online). His portrait is almost comical to me because he looks so suspicious and mistrusting. On listening to the audio info I learned that he actually used this painting to intimidate his staff! He’d keep it covered up while he was in his office, then would remove the cover when he was gone to remind people of his GLARING presence!
Here is a gallery of some of my doodles: