HABERLE, John
(b. 1856, New Haven, d. 1933, New Haven)

The Slate

c. 1895
Oil on canvas, 31 x 24 cm
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Chalk crawls animate the surface of the cracked slate, held together by a fading wooden frame. The doodled drawings of a man and a cat heighten the visual humour of the trompe-l'oeil painting. Ephemeral, rapidly blurring graffiti convey the proximity of the viewers's point of station and underline the primacy of the principle of drawing. The cheerful childish doodles, born of a spontaneous impulse, counter the rational seriousness of adult daily life with a playful free note of intuitive originality, Haberle renders visible the relationship between all types of drawing, whether trained or not, using pictorial means and handwriting. His name is scratched into the frame and also appears written in chalk.