ARTneo presents Fundamental Gestures: Figures from Life


Drawing from observation, artists have for centuries used figures to create everything from studies and sketches, to completed works of art. Fundamental Gestures: Figures From Life looks at drawings by some of Cleveland’s most prominent artists and how each one captures the human form. The works explore different approaches to looking at and building up the figure on paper. In developing the body, some artists focus on the anatomy by approximating the internal skeleton and building out the figure. Others look at the play of light and dark on the surface of the skin or clothing, accentuating the figure’s volume. Some begin by breaking the figure down into geometric shapes, like squares and cylinders, and then refine those shapes into the human form.

While the artist often seeks realistic depictions, many artists, like William Sommer, abstracted the figure. Loose rendering with distorted proportions emphasize the mood of the sitter. Sommer’s drawings of women and children have a casual quality to them and are somewhat primitive in style. He was never interested in capturing person’s physical appearance, really. Rather, he strived to express their essence, or spirit.

Other artists, like Henry Keller, took a more traditional, observational approach to figure drawing. Keller used outlines to define the human form and emphasized volume by shading with charcoal. Similar to Keller, Phyllis Sloane used outlines to define her figures. However, her use of watercolor gives her drawings a more spontaneous feeling. She uses line and pattern to create depth and volume.

Figure drawing has long been a staple of academic training. Shirley Aley Campbell, who taught the subject since the 1970s, shows that figure drawing is a fluid art form. The study of the body, the abstraction of its forms, and the flow of the artist’s marks all create an active visual experience. Fundamental Gestures looks at over one hundred years of these often neglected works and celebrates the diversity of the human form and artistic vision.





Fundamental Gestures: Figures from Life: April 15–July 1, 2016

Opening Reception: 5-10 pm Friday, April 15

Member’s Preview: 6-8 pm Thursday, April 14


1305 West 80th St., Suite 016
Cleveland, OH 44102