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Iconic Architecture and my Nude Sketches

April 5, 2011

Today’s Iconic Architecture appears to focus on images to conjure up thought processes that centers around making  viewers think that they are witnessing a new ‘likeness’. According to Cynthia Freeland, author of ‘Portraits & Persons’, Oxford Press 2010, iconic artists during the Byzantine Period did not usually have any freedom of expression in what they did, because they were controlled by their clients. And it is important to understand that iconic works does not represent, but rather expresses.


Architects ‘borrow’ designs from one another. They do not ‘copy’works. Whatever is being designed today is already built somewhere. These designs may not reflect similar images, but somewhere within the details likenesses are expressed. Painting and sculpture differs from architecture in this manner. Andy Warhol created a ‘likeness’ of a commercial graphic work that expanded into iconic images of Marilyn Monroe. We now witness this ‘likeness’ as a standard ‘copy’ of iconic expression, e.g. President Obama’s campaign poster. Dubai’s architecture is a ‘conglomeration’ of iconic styles that competes with one another. In Dubai we witness architects elevation styles trying to replicate Warhol’s ingenuity; trying to discover new expressions. Dubai is an architecture world of  theoretical eclecticism.

My nude sketches are explorations which expresses the female’s nude figure as an imagery of fine art. They are not trying to be erotic, but rather they seek to find the elements of the female body that makes the finished composition interesting and beautiful.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s impressionist nude ‘Bathers’ series created in the early 1900’s (“The Bathers” 1901and 1918, “Seated Bather” 1914, and “Bather drying her leg” 1895) are all iconic painting masterpieces that are beautiful in an artistic sense, yet they are not considered erotic.


Picasso’s sketches of female nude figures during his “Blue Period’, 1901—1904, illustrates his passion to explore the female nude figure into his style of expressive paintings. Picasso identifies areas of the female body that he envisions as being iconic; he breaks them down, identifies their essentials and draw them as blocks that fist his expression.



I sketch the perimeter of the figures to express the simplicity of the contours and curvatures of the female nude body, while the details of her hair act as contrasting expressionism.  Sketching can be a form of ‘serious’ and sensitive works of art.  Architects use it for communicating ideas; Fashion designers use it to conceptualize designs; Artists use it to explore and record; Movie Directors use it to ’story board’ their production; to mention just a few designers that see sketching as an essential tool in the professional creative world.

Sketching as an Art-Form is not dead!



  1. I think we use the word “Iconic” too loosely! It is supposed to be attached to something that is characterized by fame! Fame is usually related to history, but in today’s Internet World, Facebook, Twitter and You Tube, fame can be instantaneous!

  2. Daphne Chan permalink

    Your nude sketches reminds me of Matisse’s artwork, simple in lines but yet conjures the imagery. Whether it’s erotic art or not probably depends on the viewers’ senses and there’s nothing wrong with art being erotic because erotism deals with feeling human.

    I don’t think sketching will ever die because it’s most direct, personal and soulful when creating or communicating visuals.

  3. All the famous iconic artist have done female nude studies sometime during their career; Edgar Degas:Pastel of Women 1878;Francisco de Goya: The Naked Maja 1800; Edouard Manet: Olympia 1863; Vincent Van Gogh: Nude Woman Reclining 1887; and of course Austria’s Gustav Klimt many nude studies to jog your History of Art memory.

  4. Errol Hugh permalink

    You are right Daphne, eroticism is what you make of it. Visual art is not the only artistic endeavour faced with such misunderstanding. Poetry and songs are also subject to such, and in some cultures dancing can be classified as being erotic too.

    Yes, even computer assisted design operators have to be able to sketch in spite of the advance technology.

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