Drawing the line Selected by Micheal Craig Martin

Craig-Martin, M(1995)Drawing the line. First Edition. White Devon Press. London.

Micheal Craig-Martin curated this exhibition around drawing, specificly that without shading, cross-hatching or chiaroscuro. This means the art can hail back from the neolithic period to modern day work. Pictures represent all aspects of preparation work through to completed line drawings in pen and ink. The emphasis is on the line.

The works displayed 1 a page, have been placed next to each other to show similarities in pictures created hundreds of years apart. (p54-55) Cy Twombys 1971 crayon over a dark gauche on one side compares to Abrecht Altdorfer 152 picture titled St Christopher Carrying the Christ Child from 1512 (pen and black ink heightened with white body colour on dark brown prepared paper), the contrasts they used creating the same striking effect nearly 400 years apart.

Twombly’s piece untitled is a series of white lines descending from the top right to bottom left, they form an elongated figure of eight that is finished above the paper. there are layers of them, the palest also the longest at the back, getting stronger and shorter at the front. These are also partially rubbed away. The repetition of the same mark gives some of the strength to the image, to me the overall effect is like rain or a really bad electrical storm. The faint rubbing out gives me a feeling of warmth, the marks are not all exactly the same which I think helps my feeling of the piece as natural. They have a strong energy, even as their effect is to hide whatever is behind them.

Altdorfer’s Saint is battling the elements and the weight of the child around his neck, his clothing billowing in the wind, shown more from the light above it than the shadow below, holding a bending tree, showing both his weight against it and the weather pushing it back into the picture. The beautifully controlled accurate lineshow us the strength of the individual to continue on against the challenges befalling him, its a much more obvious message of energy than Twombly’s, I do prefer the former picture though.


This exhibition would have been truly great to see, spotting the links Craig-Martin found between pictures and techniques that changed over time.


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