Skill, Speed, and Diplomacy: The Artistic Achievement of Don Bachardy

Posted on Tue., April 19, 2022

Robert Flynn Johnson, curator emeritus of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, discusses how Don Bachardy was one of the most insightful draftsmen of his era.

Most artists work in isolation, inventing their art from pure imagination or being inspired by landscapes or inanimate objects. If they derive their art from human beings, it is often from numerous sessions with live models when they have the luxury of time. Not so with Don Bachardy, who always created his works from life in single intense sessions of between two to three hours. This method meant that each drawing was a true collaboration between artist and subject. Unlike other artists, this demanded not just skill but the necessary elements of diplomacy in making willing subjects comfortable while, at the same time, putting himself, by choice, into the pressure of completing the work with the extreme economy of time.

This is the Isherwood-Bachardy Lecture.