More commonly referred to as ANATOMY or ARTISTIC ANATOMY is not just important; it is essential.
If your mentor tells you, there is no need to know anatomy, or that it will get in the way, start looking for a new mentor. The only reason they would tell you that is because they know very little or nothing about FIGURE STRUCTURE.
There is a gross misconception that artists draw what they see. No artist of note ever drew what they saw they drew what they knew about what they were looking at or imagined.
In short, they drew what they observed and observing requires engaging the brain. That has been the case throughout history and will continue in the future.
CAMERAS RECORD NATURE ARTISTS INTERPRET IT.
Past masters always studied, form and function to corpus humanus.
No matter how exhaustively one records surface details, their drawings will never be convincing to the trained observer.
If one doesn’t have a solid understanding of the human-machine, or anything else, they are ill-equipped to draw it.
You can’t draw what you don’t know. You can copy it but you can’t draw it. Cameras duplicate what the lens sees, but tell the viewer nothing new about the subject. Humans have a mind’s eye and the responsibility to let the viewer in on what we know about what we see.
A solid understanding of; skeletal structure, the muscle groups or operating system, their origin, insertion, function, form, and their antagonists are essential requirements for becoming a figurative artist.
The role of the camera is to still nature, the role of the mind is to distill it. The first mirrors the latter discerns.
The first stops time the second operates in the time-space continuum. Any activity which does not include the whole brain in the equation has no relationship to the Beaux-Arts. A solid understanding of; the skeletal structure, the muscle groups or operating system, their origin, insertion, function, form, and their antagonists are essential requirements for becoming a figurative artist.
Copying surface details may fool the layman but will never get past the knowing professional. If one’s goal is to have the masses think their works look like photographs, then they set the bar far to low.
Copying being touted as a good thing and even worse as the only thing is decadent and deceitful. Artists
When one is working in a naturalistic or representational manner, it requires the observation of surface particulars to create the illusion of the subject.
Use of the words real, realistic, realism or realist movement is delusional and panders to the populist. Everything projected or created from the original source is an abstraction illusion. Illusions created to convey the idea of the thing and not to copy the thing verbatim.
A solid understanding of; the skeletal structure, the muscle groups or operating system, their origin, insertion, function, form, and their antagonists are essential requirements for becoming a figurative artist
Anatomical knowledge played a role in the golden age of Greece with Myron, Phidias, Polyclitus, Praxiteles, Scopas, and Lysippus, and the Romans followed suit.
The Baroque was no exception with Rembrandt, Rubins, Van Dyck, Snyders, Poussin, Velasquez, Vermeer, and their contemporaries being highly aware of the underlying construction of the human form.
This list could be exhaustive, but the point is that every master drafter, painter, and sculptor of the human form had/has an excellent knowledge or all things anatomical. (None of them relied on surface detail alone)
Mimetic copying may work to a minor degree when working in from landscape, or still-life but does not come close to adequate when dealing with the human form.
Figure drawing requires so much information it is ludicrous to think it can be done successfully without understanding what lies beneath the surface. It is much like learning to play music by ear without knowing how to read it.
It is much like learning to play music by ear without knowing how to read it. It can be done but there is really point to it and being first chair of the New York Philharmonic is highly unlikely and composing out of the question.
Knowledge of figure structure, function, and form are paramount to one’s success in drawing, painting, and sculpting from life, memory or imagination.
So read Richer, do battle with Bridgman, view Vanderpoel, wrestle with Rimmer and hear what Hale has to say. Take advantage of the best available resources, and spend the time it takes to get familiar with the corpus humanus.
The short answer is that you cannot succeed in portraying the human form without a substantial amount of anatomical knowledge. Becoming an artist is not about learning a skill-set and precluding other areas of knowledge. Quite the opposite, being an artist requires a knowledge vault filled to the brim with alchemy, mathematics, physics, engineering, botany, biology, architecture, literature, poetry, music, dance, et. al., Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, and their surround, elevated the medieval craftsman to the status of artist. The current point and shoot movement is primarily about craft and is not the best interest of art or artist.