I have been considering this further and I think the key element that distinguished a pretty picture from art is gravity. The first picture had none at all. No distinguishing features, no life, nothing. It was exactly like an airbrushed picture of a model. (which is what led me to think that it may have been the same person, just with the ‘model treatment’)
I was reminded of a time I saw a girl with perfect alabaster legs. And I looked at mine, covered in a network of random childhood scars and tanned. At first I thought I wanted her legs, then I thought about it. Mine showed I lived, I had a life and a childhood of sorts (it would take another blog to go into those areas..) each scar tells a story, not all nice, but they go, in part, to shaping who I am today.
The second subject had character, she was a person, a woman. The other one was simply a mannequin with no expression at all.
it takes a really great artist to create a personality by showing someone’s back.
I am reminded of a quote from my favorite book of all time:
“Anybody can look at a pretty girl and see a pretty girl. An artist can look at a pretty girl and see the old woman she will become. A better artist can look at an old woman and see the pretty girl that she used to be. But a great artist a master and that is what Auguste Rodin was can look at an old woman, portray her exactly as she is and force the viewer to see the pretty girl she used to be . and more than that, he can make anyone with the sensitivity of an armadillo, or even you, see that this lovely young girl is still alive, not old and ugly at all, but simply prisoned inside her ruined body. He can make you feel the quiet, endless tragedy that there was never a girl born who ever grew older than eighteen in her heart . no matter what the merciless hours have done to her. Look at her, Ben. Growing old doesn’t matter to you and me; we were never meant to be admired but it does to them. Look at her!”
from ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’ By Robert A. Heinlein (uncut edition)
The sculpture referred to: Celle qui fut la belle heaulmiere. For a full image please go here