The Figurative Artist's Handbook- published 2017
Published by The Monacelli Press in April 2017, this book seeks to address the resurgence of the figure in contemporary art. It contains an overview of the figure in art history, figure drawing lessons, portrait lessons, suggestions on keeping a sketchbook . Additionally, it gives an overview of the working practices of some of the best figurative artists working today.
"Rob Zeller’s debut book on drawing and painting the human figure promises to be one of the most definitive on the subject in decades..." David Molesky - Juxtapoz Magazine
""Robert Zeller’s book is a welcome reminder of the ongoing importance of figurative art, and the many masterful figurative artists working today...." Donald Kuspit, Art Critic and Historian
" As its gorgeous plates tell us, there is a rising group of figurative artists who know the importance of learning “the rules” before they break them, which is precisely the opportunity this book intends to offer its most ambitious readers...." John Seed- HyperAllergic
You can learn more about the book, or purchase it, by clicking on the button below
Essay for the Brooklyn Rail - History Painting and the Problem with Art Education - published 2017
The art critic Donald Kuspit asked me to write an essay, as a guest contributor, for the June 2017 issue of The Brooklyn Rail . The subject was: James Cooper, editor of the American Arts Quarterly, recently argued that there was an “explosion of new realism across the country,” more particularly a revival of “history painting.” According to Cooper, it involves the restoration of humanism and figuration, filtered through a modern existential understanding of the human condition. Do you agree or disagree?
The essay can be read by clicking on the button below.
Article for The Artist Magazine - The Evolution of Figure Drawing- to be published Jan 2018
The Artist Magazine asked if I would write an essay that would flesh out one of the main ideas of my book, The Figurative Artist's Handbook. Namely, how I brought together three figure-drawing methods long thought to be at odds, synthesizing these seemingly incompatible techniques to achieve a cohesive and complete understanding of the human figure. Although all three methods underlie contemporary fine-arts practice and education, no-one had ever combined them before:
The Study of Gesture (Disegno): Rooted in the Italian Mannerist style of the 16th and 17th centuries, the gestural method emphasizes life, rhythm, and movement in the human body.
The Structural Approach: A mainstay of 20th- and 21st-century art instruction, this method applies an architectural perspective to the body, using a block conception for anatomically sound, solid figures.
The Atelier Method: Based on the training provided by 18th- and 19th-century art academies, the atelier approach creates sensual, smooth renderings based on meticulous study of the figure’s surface morphology in light and shadow.