Firstly, this is a stunning book to visually look through. It is full of inspiring photos of drawings and it is one I will be coming back to time and time again and it links nicely with another book in the required reading list: Drawing Now: between the lines of contemporary Art.
The preface is by Gary Garrels, the chief curator of drawings at The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and in ti he explains how drawing is thriving with the onset of new technologies and means of image making but it still remains unrecognised by some, with drawings often staying in the backrooms of galleries or even the studios. However with exhibitions like Drawing Now it is being shown the limelight and is gathering new importance in the world of contemporary art.
The book then goes on to look at drawings around different themes: science and art, ornament and crime, architecture, happiness, mental maps, popular culture, comics and fashion. As my theme for my still life is going to be ‘happiness’ (decided before I actually opened this book!) then that section grabbed my immediate attention.
The ‘drawing happiness’ section begins with a quote from Bruno Taut ‘Can one draw happiness?’. I realised early on in the course when asked to express joy in marks that my picture of happiness is perhaps different to everyone else. My happiness can cause anxiety as too much joy and happiness can be a sign my bipolar is causing me to be ‘too high’. But then everyone must have a different perception of happiness, just like we all grieve differently, we all cope with anxiety differently etc. So I don’t think we can draw universal happiness. The three artists featured in the book: Paul Noble, Neo Rauch and David Thorpe all try to envision a utopic fantasy world and demonstrate how problematic it can be to try and show perfect communities. We all have a different idea of what happiness and perfection look like, so drawing this ideal is near on impossible.
Hoptman, L (2003). Drawing Now: Eight Propositions The Museum of Modern Art New York.