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Untitled (1973)
drawing, ink on paper, perception, reality, nature of art, constructions and reality, three-dimensional constructions, two-dimensional projections, machines, artist and machines, inventions, art as exploration, purpose of art for an artist, machines in art, machine-making, propellers, function of propellers, propeller shapes as inspiration, artist with interest in machines, da Vinci, flying machine, drawing, ink drawing, objects, propellers, machines, sketches, inventions,
description
start quoteArt is in the act of living not making.end quote -- Murray Favro (Heath 1999)

Favro’s work deals with the nature of how we perceive things, of what reality is, and the nature of art itself.  Some of his works include his constructed version of an object, with slide or film projections of the real object projected onto his construction causing one to wonder which is real, the three-dimensional construction or the  two-dimensionalHaving height and width, but no depth; flat. (Artlex.com)  projection of the real thing.  His work also reflects his interest in machines, although many of his “inventions” do not work.  It seems that for him the exploration is as important as the final result.

Not surprisingly perhaps, Favro’s first venture into machine-making was a propeller testing machine, which demonstrated how propellers with different shapes could generate lift through the air. 

He was intrigued by the way working with propeller shapes prompted further experiments, and he gained “a feel for why one  shapeAn element of art, it is an enclosed space defined and determined by other art elements such as line, colour, value, and texture. In painting and drawing, shapes may take on the appearance of a solid three-dimensional object even though they are limited to two dimensions — length and width. This two-dimensional character of shape distinguishes it from form, which has depth as well as length and width. Examples of shapes include: circle, oval, and oblong; polygons such as triangle, square, rectangle, rhombus, trapezium, trapezoid, pentagon, hexagon, heptagon, octagon, nonagon, decagon, undecagon, dodecagon, etc.; and such other kinds of shapes as amorphous, biomorphous, and concretion. (Artlex.com)  works better than another.”

The untitled  drawingDepiction of shapes and forms on a surface chiefly by means of lines. Colour and shading may be included. A major fine art technique in itself, drawing is the basis of all pictorial representation, and an early step in most art activities. Though an integral part of most painting, drawing is generally differentiated from painting by the dominance of line over mass. There are many sorts of drawing techniques, varying according to the effect the artist wants, and depending on whether the drawing is an end in itself — an independent and finished work of art -- or a preliminary to some other medium or form — although distinct from the final product, such drawings also have intrinsic artistic value. Preliminary drawings include various exercises (e.g., contour drawing, gesture drawing, figure drawing, drawing from the flat), as well as sketches and studies, cartoons and underdrawings. (Artlex.com)  pictured here is one of several in the MacKenzie Art Gallery  collectionTo collect is to accumulate objects. A collection is an accumulation of objects. A collector is a person who makes a collection. (Artlex.com)  (some of which were sketched on the three-hole-punched paper that students use).  All of them indicate Favro’s interest in machines, similar to that of another artist-inventor, Leonardo Da Vinci.  While the technology in Favro’s sketches and drawings may be more advanced, they have the same feel as the imaginative explorations of Leonardo, who may have even attempted to build a flying machine in the 1500s.

additional resources Things to Think About
  • ”For Leonardo da Vinci, as for modern scientists, careful observation was his starting point. He believed that the most efficient answer to any problem could be found in nature. Thus, he turned directly to nature to look for significant data. He recorded his observations meticulously and sought explanations by comparing one natural phenomenon with another.” (from the Hampden Sydney College website info on da Vinci)
  • Have you ever had an idea and wondered where it came from? Think of an example of an idea you had and try to trace it back to its beginning.
  • Do you know someone who always seems to be full of ideas or is always busy doodling or writing on scratch pads? Ask that person where they get their ideas from.
Advanced Activity

Favro’s  drawingDepiction of shapes and forms on a surface chiefly by means of lines. Colour and shading may be included. A major fine art technique in itself, drawing is the basis of all pictorial representation, and an early step in most art activities. Though an integral part of most painting, drawing is generally differentiated from painting by the dominance of line over mass. There are many sorts of drawing techniques, varying according to the effect the artist wants, and depending on whether the drawing is an end in itself — an independent and finished work of art -- or a preliminary to some other medium or form — although distinct from the final product, such drawings also have intrinsic artistic value. Preliminary drawings include various exercises (e.g., contour drawing, gesture drawing, figure drawing, drawing from the flat), as well as sketches and studies, cartoons and underdrawings. (Artlex.com)  resembles a diagram or plan of something that an engineer might draw. It has two views of what appears to be a propeller, head on and seen from eye level sideways.

  • Do you think this is a good way to imagine exactly what the solid object would be like if it were to be built?


  • What other ways can you suggest?


  • If the artist were to draw this today, do you think he might have used a computer to help show the object from different angles? Why?

For information on inventing machines that can also be art objects, go to PBS kids website, Artbeat@school to the lesson on Kinetic Sculpture and watch a video clip of artist (Art 21) Pete Beeman as he creates a  kineticExpressing movement. In art, kinetic refers to sculpture that moves, such as a mobile. (Artlex.com)   sculptureA three-dimensional work of art, or the art of making it. Such works may be carved, modeled, constructed, or cast. Sculptures can also be described as assemblage, in the round, and relief, and made in a huge variety of media. A sculptor is one who creates sculptures. (artlex.com)  with a variety of materials. On this webpage you will find more detailed information about collecting and using  foundAn image, material, or object, not originally intended as a work of art, that is obtained, selected, and exhibited by an artist, often without being altered in any way. The cubists, dadaists, and surrealists originated the use of found images / materials / objects. Although it can be either a natural or manufactured image / material / object, the term readymade refers only to those which were manufactured. Also known in the French, objet trouvé. (Artlex.com)  objects.

Online Activity
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The following words are listed in Roget’s and Webster’s thesauri under propeller and propellant.

  • Using the shapes icon (the arrow), and the shapes option icon, select the words in the box that you think best describe Favro’s drawing.  They will appear in the drawing window as you select them.


  • Drag the words you have chosen and arrange them as a “visual poem” in the drawing window.


  • Also note that William Carlos Williams said that: A poem is “a small machine made of words” and “there can be no part, as in any other machine, that is redundant.” ….the poetic machine needs to run smoothly. (quote from http://www.performancepoets.org/index_files/nectar1.htm)

 

Studio Activity
  1. On paper,  designA plan, or to plan. The organization or composition of a work; the skilled arrangement of its parts. An effective design is one in which the elements of art and principles of design have been combined to achieve an overall sense of unity. Also [applied design], the production of attractive and well crafted functional objects. Subcategories of the design arts include: architecture, bonsai, fashion design, furniture design, graphic design, ikebana, industrial design, interior design, landscape architecture, stagecraft, textile design, and Web page design. (Artlex.com)  your own invented machine or machine part. Decide what to include: for example, propellers, wheels, motor, sprockets, etc.


  2. Reverse the process and create a fantastic machine using any of the following  foundAn image, material, or object, not originally intended as a work of art, that is obtained, selected, and exhibited by an artist, often without being altered in any way. The cubists, dadaists, and surrealists originated the use of found images / materials / objects. Although it can be either a natural or manufactured image / material / object, the term readymade refers only to those which were manufactured. Also known in the French, objet trouvé. (Artlex.com)  objects and materials, or come up with your own ideas for materials:

    • discarded metal parts of gadgets etc.
    • plastic (discarded tops, knobs, inserts, pieces)
    • wood (sticks, spools, blocks, wedges, miscellaneous bits)
    • rubber bands, paper clips
    • wheels
    • cardboard (sheet, boxes and tubes)
    • wire (fine, coarse, long or short pieces, thick, thin, coiled, straight)
    • string (various thicknesses, textures, lengths)
    • toy construction pieces
    • glue of various kinds including glue guns
    • staples
    • duct tape.

Your  sculptureA three-dimensional work of art, or the art of making it. Such works may be carved, modeled, constructed, or cast. Sculptures can also be described as assemblage, in the round, and relief, and made in a huge variety of media. A sculptor is one who creates sculptures. (artlex.com)  does not need to copy something “useful” but rather you may consider it as a playful object. Think about:

You may want to challenge yourself to include motion. For example, use a Lego motor or learn how to make a simple battery/magnet operated circuit at the IEEE Virtual Museum  (NOTE:  You will need flash to view this site)

Now that you have created this fantastic machine, make a pencil  drawingDepiction of shapes and forms on a surface chiefly by means of lines. Colour and shading may be included. A major fine art technique in itself, drawing is the basis of all pictorial representation, and an early step in most art activities. Though an integral part of most painting, drawing is generally differentiated from painting by the dominance of line over mass. There are many sorts of drawing techniques, varying according to the effect the artist wants, and depending on whether the drawing is an end in itself — an independent and finished work of art -- or a preliminary to some other medium or form — although distinct from the final product, such drawings also have intrinsic artistic value. Preliminary drawings include various exercises (e.g., contour drawing, gesture drawing, figure drawing, drawing from the flat), as well as sketches and studies, cartoons and underdrawings. (Artlex.com)  of your finished piece. Make it as a  contourThe outline and other visible edges of a mass, figure or object. (Artlex.com)  drawing.

Explore contour drawing

Focus your eyes on one spot on the outline or outside edge of your construction - that is where you will start to draw on the paper. Move your pencil very slowly as your eye follows the shape. Stop and look down now and then to see how your  drawingDepiction of shapes and forms on a surface chiefly by means of lines. Colour and shading may be included. A major fine art technique in itself, drawing is the basis of all pictorial representation, and an early step in most art activities. Though an integral part of most painting, drawing is generally differentiated from painting by the dominance of line over mass. There are many sorts of drawing techniques, varying according to the effect the artist wants, and depending on whether the drawing is an end in itself — an independent and finished work of art -- or a preliminary to some other medium or form — although distinct from the final product, such drawings also have intrinsic artistic value. Preliminary drawings include various exercises (e.g., contour drawing, gesture drawing, figure drawing, drawing from the flat), as well as sketches and studies, cartoons and underdrawings. (Artlex.com)  is evolving. Add lines inside the outline to include all the shapes you see.

Explore blind contour drawing

Blind  contour drawingDrawing in which contour lines are used to represent subject matter. A contour drawing has a three-dimensional quality, indicating the thickness as well as height and width of the forms it describes. Making a contour drawing with a continuous line is a classic drawing exercise (sometimes modified as a "blind continuous-line contour"): with eyes fixed on the contours of the model or object, drawing the contour very slowly with a steady, continuous line, without lifting the drawing tool or looking at the paper. (Artlex.com)  follows the same procedure, except that you must look at the construction all the time and not at your paper at all.

  • Play with your drawing:
References

Andreae, Janice.  ‘Invention, The Creative Principle at Work: Murray Favro.’  Artmagazine, Winter 1983, pp 36-40.

Dault, Gary Michael.  ‘Gallery Going.’  Toronto Globe and Mail, April 22, 2000.

Dewdney, Christopher.  ‘Murray Favro: The Paradigm of Invention.’  Vanguard, September, 1983.  Retrieved from the Internet on October 21, 2008 from:  http://www.ccca.ca/c/writing/d/dewdney/dew003t.html

Murray Favro.  Exhibition at London Regional Art and Historical Museums and McIntosh Gallery, University of Western Ontario, London, 1998.

Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning