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 Richard Claude Ziemann  (1932 - )

About: Richard Claude Ziemann


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Lived/Active: New York/Connecticut      Known for: printmaking, teaching

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Biography from The Brooklyn Museum of Art:
Following is text for an exhibition.

September 15 - November 4, 1979

Artists who elect to work in a representational idiom often condemn themselves to the literal. They devote themselves to the familiar aspects of things as these may appeal to the eye and to the memory of the common observer, and they labor to make an apple look like an apple and a tree to look like a tree. This attachment to description can have a fine result and can reveal the application of a system of drawing or rendering that astonishes with evidence of surpassing skill. But this approach to the physical world produces mainly illustration, though possibly of the highest order. The more rewarding, the more resonate art is ours when the artist gives to the literal subject, sees it quirkily, partially, or with a strange sense of its formal properties. Greater representational art transcends brilliant transcription.

Richard Claude Ziemann may be thought of as an artist of nature. Landscape is his métier. There is nothing in his subject matter that is unfamiliar; fields of grass, the forest floor, interior woodlands, foliage and flowers. And there is nothing inaccessible in his imagery.

Characteristically, Ziemann works with the landscape of his immediate environment; he is not one of those artists who must travel to Mount Vesuvius. But if the nearby hills and fields will do for him, Ziemann brings to them something wholly uncommon. His subjects are so thoroughly mediated and understood that the images come to us with a dreamlike clarity and quietness that essentializes them. These hills and trees are timeless. They describe not appearances but the visual sensations of repeated vital experience.

We can acknowledge the romantic sense of Ziemann's drawings and etchings, their visual flavor, without losing sight of what I must call their basis in art. They are marks on paper, made directly or through the intermediation of etching plate and printing press. In both his drawings and his etchings, Ziemann works immediately in the landscape. Adjustments and refinements may be made in the studio, but the rich surfaces are mainly generated in the changing light of the natural environment.

In thousands of strokes with pen, brush, or graver, the artist has dealt not so much with leaves and trees, with rocks and hills, as with the integuments of light that give visible form and visual sensation to these objects. A Ziemann drawing or print, severely limited to light and shade, conveys on its flat surface a remarkable intelligence of space. There is nothing overtly illusionistic in the handling; we do not fly away on the wings of perspective; instead, we experience the scene in its special radiant atmosphere as part of an envelope in which we, too, exist. These prints and drawings put us where the artist was and make us their own.

Gene Baro
Curator of Prints

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