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Ricardo Fernandez Gracia, Director of the Chair of Navarrese Heritage and Art.

Drawing, foundation of the arts. A purpose of a exhibition from the atelier of Professor Joaquín Lorda.

Fri, 06 Sep 2019 16:31:00 +0000 Published in Navarra Newspaper

Under the degree scroll of Instruments for creativity. Drawing and construction tools. Siglos XVII al XX, a rich collection of tools, books and other objects that, over the centuries, were present in the workshops and programs of study of architects and artists and that, in large part, were collected by Professor Joaquín Lorda, with the passion of someone who enjoys his knowledge can be seen at the entrance hall of the Central Library Services of the University of Navarra. Joaquín, who died unexpectedly three years ago, was described by Professor García Gaínza as "a wise professor with a touch of genius, generous with his ideas, drawings and books, and humble". My experience with him can only endorse this wise judgment, especially with regard to wisdom, which is obtained through reflection and consists of a mixture of knowledge and values, of science and knowledge and of constant work together with a vital orientation towards the just, the true and the beautiful.

During this month of September you have the opportunity to learn with these pieces and books, with carefully prepared catalog cards and texts professionally prepared for their understanding by its curator Mª Angélica Martínez, with the partnership of Mª Antonia Frías and Pablo Arza. The organization has run to position of the Archive of the Library Services with the contribution of Maria Calonge and the School of Architecture. A virtual visit can also be accessed through the web page of the aforementioned Library Services .


Basis of all arts in the creative process

The internship of drawing has accompanied human beings since the dawn of history, even before writing. It has been a fundamental means for learning and for the expression of ideas and thoughts. Albert Einstein expressed this idea with this phrase: "If I can't draw it, I don't understand it".

Drawing has been the basis and instrument of the creative process in all the arts, from architecture and figurative art to the so-called sumptuary arts. It has formed a major part in the genesis of the work of art and has been the foundation of the Fine Arts up to our times and fundamental in the training of artists, having had, in some countries, academies for their apprenticeship. In the average Age, many artisans obtained their promotion to mastery when they stopped staining their hands with lime and started using ink instead, due to their mastery of drawing.

Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574), famous for his biographies of Italian artists, considered drawing to be "the father of the three arts: architecture, sculpture and painting", giving it an intellectual connotation as the plastic projection of the idea. The viceroy Palafox argued, in the following century, that the artist "first makes the idea in the imagination, then the drawing and finally the image"

The drawings can have a sense of work final or be preparatory works for works made in other techniques and media. In this second option, he served secularly as presentation for the client as model to work on a larger scale with different supports and techniques.

When a commission was made, with the agreement between the commissioner and the artist, the latter immediately proceeded to capture his invention in a drawing, trace or model . Among the means that artists used to motivate their creativity and to draw it, we must note everything they had within sight, the written sources and the engraved prints. Velázquez's master and father-in-law, Francisco Pacheco, in his Art of Painting (1649), expressed it as follows: "Invention comes from good wit, and from having seen much, and from the imitation, copy and variety of many things, and from the news of history, and through the figure and movement of the significance of the passions, accidents and affections of the mind". The importance of learning, relationships with artists and patrons and travel were important aspects in the professional development of the masters in order to store in their minds visual and cultural sources. Those who possessed intellectual training were better prepared to include in their works symbolic and allegorical elements that enriched paintings, building facades, altarpieces and book covers. Alberti, in the 15th century, proposed as model the pictor doctus versed in studia humanitatis and familiar with poets, orators and men of letters, "because from these erudite geniuses he will obtain not only excellent ornaments, but he will also benefit from his inventions".

The aim of the creative process traditionally consisted of obtaining beautiful works that would capture, dialogue and empathy with those who approached them, always insisting on constancy, study and work, since, as Picasso pointed out: "Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working".


The testimony of a great creator: Bernini

The brilliant and multifaceted Gian Lorenzo Bernini, in June 1665, during his stay in Paris, left his testimony about invention - today we would say creativity - and drawing, recounted by Paul Fréart de Chantelou in his Diary of the Journey of the Chevalier Bernini to France. In his text we can read these paragraphs that speak for themselves about the characteristics of the artist's studio and the relationship between creation and drawing. This is how it is related: "Having passed later, from his room, where we were then, to his gallery, he told me that in Rome he had one in his house, completely similar, that it is there where he makes, walking around, most of his compositions; that he marks on the wall, with charcoal, the ideas of things as they came to his mind, which is what lively spirits with great imagination usually do: to pile up on the same topic ideas and ideas. That, one comes to them, they draw it, a second one comes to them, they write it down too, then a third and a fourth, without purging or perfecting any of them, always sticking to the last production for a particular love of novelty. That the thing to do on such an occasion to remedy this defect, is to let these different ideas rest there, without looking at them for a month or two. After that time, one is in a position to choose the one that is best; that if by chance one is in a hurry and the one for whom one works does not give so much time, one must resort to those glasses that change the color of the objects, or those others that make them look bigger or smaller, or look at them upside down. In short, to seek by these changes of color, size and status, to remedy the deception that makes us the love of novelty, which almost always prevents us from choosing the best idea".


The atelier and extraordinary editions for its contextualization

An outstanding collection of drawing and construction tools from the 17th to the 20th century that belonged to Professor Lorda, which he himself called his atelier, are exhibited for the first time outside the School of Architecture, since, in the classrooms of the same, Joaquín prepared circumstantial installations with those pieces, as a pedagogical means to awaken the interest of his students.

In the showcases you can see drawing pens, stilettos, pencil holders, dry-point and tracing compasses, rulers and squares, curved pens, measuring instruments - rulers, protractors and proportion compasses - and copying, reduction or enlargement instruments - pantograph and reduction compasses. Also included are some construction and carpentry tools that illustrate various techniques now in disuse. Some cases of the most outstanding European manufacturers of drawing instruments from the second half of the 19th century can also be seen at sample.

A selection of books related to the objects from the Archive of the Library Services of the University of Navarra, complement and provide context to the exhibition. Among them are various treatises on architecture and other arts, books on iconography and tools for drawing and construction, as well as various manuals for apprenticeship.

Through them we can understand the importance of drawing in the creation or invention. Vitruvius recommended, in the first century B.C., the use of the compass and the ruler to draw the plans of buildings. 

The Renaissance and the humanistic culture, so rich in architectural treatises, contrary to what might be expected, did not specifically consider the instruments necessary to carry out architectural drawing, although their intaglio covers were included. Beautiful editions of treatises by Vitruvius, Serlio, Vignola, Palladio, Scamozzi and Caramuel can be seen in the displays.

As it is pointed out in the didactic guide that has been prepared to accompany the visit, the first publication that collected in its pages plates with drawing instruments was the Theatrum instrumentorum, published in Latin in Orleans in 1569 and translated into French ten years later and also into Spanish in 1602. 

The Architectura recta y obliqua ( 1678) by the distinguished Cistercian philosopher, mathematician and theorist, Friar Juan Caramuel, gives us the privilege of being able to contemplate numerous instruments in its richly engraved engravings. 

However, it was not until the Age of Enlightenment that treatises and manuals on architecture, masonry and carpentry were published, with illustrations that included tools necessary for drawing, proportion and calculation. In this section of artistic and technical literature, it is worth mentioning Giovanni Pagnini's book graduate Construction and use of the proportion compass, which was translated into Spanish in 1758, only two years after its editio princeps.

Engineering and railroads in the 19th century largely led to the publication of numerous publications on geometrical drawing, in a propitious time for it, as it was a time of great works, inventions and patents. These were the times of the catalogs of the products of the manufacturers of drawing instruments, already in the second half of the century, such as Haff, Riefle, Kern or Stanley.  


By way of epilogue: looking, seeing and reading

The possibility of going, without haste, to visit meeting with all that sample offers us is a magnificent opportunity to get closer to the cultural assets. 

Looking, seeing and reading through cultural heritage is a useful exercise when it comes to reading the past at core topic . We know texts by Lope de Vega, fray Hortensio Paravicino and other writers where the difference between the act of "looking" and "seeing" is pointed out, attributing to the mass of the population the inability to pass from one stage to the other, understanding the perception of the works as a true intellectual act that demanded capacity of judgment and discernment, forbidden to most of the public. Regarding "reading", Lope de Vega, when dealing with a biblical episode, affirmed: "In an image I read this story" and Father Sigüenza, when referring to a painting by Bosch, asserted: "I confess that I read more on this panel ..., than in other books in many days". The challenge for the scholar and the citizen of today consists of carrying out analysis and plausible readings of what the past materializes.

At the beginning of this partnership, we alluded to wisdom and we will end with some reflections on it. The exhibition as such, wants to delight and teach with a studied and didactic path, in tune with human nature always inclined to learn and know, as explained by St. Thomas Aquinas. 

Cicero affirmed that "The cultivation of letters nourishes youth, delights old age, and is in prosperity an ornament and in misfortune a refuge and consolation; it entertains pleasantly inside the house, it does not hinder outside it, it stays with us and travels with us and accompanies us to the countryside". With other words, Diogenes had insisted, centuries before, on the same thing, when he affirmed that "knowledge is for the young temperance; for the old, consolation; for the poor, wealth; and for the rich, ornament".

With the desire to look, see, capture and enjoy, I close these lines, based on a reflection of Juan Agustín Ceán Bermúdez (1749-1829), friend of Goya, academician of San Fernando, writer and enlightened critic, in which he affirmed: "Who does not know how to see, cannot feel, and who does not feel, does not enjoy. So why so much attendance to the Academies and Museums, when one does not see, nor feel, nor enjoy what there is to see?