Drawing is experiencing an unparalleled surge in the art world. Passé notions that once defined drawing as being a preparatory stage for painting or sculpture have long since been cast aside. Drawing is now fully recognized as its own art form—in the biennials, art fairs, museum exhibitions, and beyond. Drawing has come of age.
Contemporary artists are increasingly discovering that drawing is something unique and different from painting. It is an intense, sensitive, compelling, personal, and utterly direct art form, one with its own concepts, characteristics, and techniques. In addition, contemporary drawing is not governed by any particular imagery, but rather encompasses a variety of approaches, including realist, abstract, modernist, and post-modernist.
Contemporary Drawing delves into the essential and far-reaching concepts of this medium, exploring surface, mark, space, composition, scale, materials, and intentionality in turn. Key techniques, such as using nature to induce marks and working with a checklist to determine a drawing’s problems, are introduced throughout. Plus, an in-depth chapter examines a number of artists, such as William Kentridge and Gego, who are breaking traditional boundaries that separate one artistic discipline from another.
Lushly illustrated by a wide range of highly accomplished contemporary artists, Contemporary Drawing offers a broad perspective on this expansive and energized field of art.
Drawings are, in truth, flat things. Whether they are on paper or cloth or walls or floors, they are actually flat. Furthermore, even when the surface is a three-dimensional thing, a drawn image that is wrapped around it is made emphatically flat, by sheer contrast. Some contemporary drawing artists explore this flatness. To do so requires attention to the mark on the surface, and a constant awareness of the mark's relationship to the space implicit on the page. This is no easy thing, but the results, when this is carried out well, can be both austere and luminous. To focus on the mark and its realtionship to the surface and the space is something akin to meditation and focusing on one's own breathing. Both are so fundamental, so easily taken for granted, that it is difficult to sustain any amount of thoguht just for them. However, in drawing, when this is achieved, once the eye and hand have been successfully focused, the mind is free to open to a new sense of space and time.
Excerpted from Contemporary Drawing by Margaret Davidson. Copyright © 2011 by Margaret Davidson. Excerpted by permission of Watson-Guptill, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
About Margaret Davidson
Margaret Davidson has a BFA from the University of Michigan and a MFA from the University of Washington. She is represented by Anchor Art Space in Anacortes, Washington. Davidson currently teaches courses in Beginning Drawing, Drawing from Modern Masters, the Aesthetics of Drawing, and various drawing technique classes at Gage Academy of Art in Seattle, Washington.