Treib Drawing by boskett

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									                      I.
                      As that of virtually every other visual medium, the definition
                      of drawing has itself changed dramatically during the past
                      few decades. At one point in history drawing referred
                      primarily to images created as a preliminary study for a
                      more futished work. for example, a sketch in chalk or
                     charcoal for a painting, or a even a full-sized cartoon for-
                     a fresco or tapestry. These works were hardly valued and
                     were of greater significance to the artist producing them
                     than to any other party, except perhaps to his patron or to
                     those working in his own atelier. In those years drawings
                     possessed only a small degree of autonomy and \oVere of
                     little consequence without a relation to a fmal artvvork:.
                     Like a small-scaled terra cotta maquette for a statue to
                     be enlarged and executed in marble, the drawing marked
                     a stage along the way towards realizing a more complete
              (1)    and polished painting in tempera, oil, or fresco--or if
                      architectural, in brick, wood, and stucco. Its existence was
Paper or Plastic?     essentially transitory, a link between thought and realization
                      in some other medium or at some other scale. Through
  Five Thoughts       drawmg, the artist or architect tested and evaluated an
  on the Subject      idea, extracting the thought from be head and giving it
                    i,--(9~ on an external surface, even if that surface possessed
     of Drawing       only two climensions.

       Marc Treib     Most of us made drawings in childhood.. We might have
                      drawn with crayons or finger paint, or smeared a wall or
                      table top with cherry jam from a jar our parents unwittingly
                     left uncapped. .An idea in the head guided the tentative
                     movement of the hand, and a pleasurable satisfaction
                     accompanied the completion of a recognizable image-
                     or if not completely recognizable, at least One to our liking.
                     Of course, in our infancy, we had fewer criteria for success.
                     Over time we leamed about coloring within the lines, and
                     later, followmg the rules of orthographic and perspective
                     projection. We learned in design school there was a correct
                     way to do things, to draw from the model or from plaster
                     casts or from geometric solids. In art schools the training
                     was similar, although drawing in art programs has almost
                     always valued the expressive potentials of the medium
                                              ,          ..,,,,,,,-
                                                     .:..~.,,,

                     far mare than in design programs.             .

                    Today, however, drawings take more varied forms and
                    exist at inunensely differing scales. In the 1960s and 1970s,
                    for example, a group of American artists tested the vast
                    expanses of the Southwestern deserts, and in turn the
                    limits of drawing. Into these desiccated surfaces they piled
                    rocks, cleared land, and excavated figures. Michael Heizer
 and Walter de Maria scratched the earth's surface and
produced what we are tempted to call drawings. Heizer
would disagree, lls.ead calling them "sculphues with their
weight removed:'! Other works received his nomination
as drawings, however-for exampie, marks left on the
ground by motorcycles traveli11g in endless circles, or dyes
and pigments dispersed on the surface of the desert. In
1969, in the desert outside Las Vegas, Walter de Maria
bulldozed four, 6-ft-wide lines set at right angles to one
another to fonn an open square; each line was nearly
three miles 10ng. 2 The scale of these efforts was impressive,
as were the logistics necessary to realize them. But despite
their monumental dimensions, these contemporary works
were not without historical precedents. Consider, for
example, the chalk figures scratched into the English
hillsides and the marks made by the Nazca peoples of
Peru, who created gigantic effigy images by scraping or
adjusting the terrain [I-I}. Can we justifiably refer to these
as drawings? And by extension, just what is drawing, or
a drawing, today?

 Historically the drawing existed as an artifact somewhat
 independent of the process by which it was produced.
 The mark of the medium was evident, as was the skill            (1-1]
 of the artist. But as a means to an end, rather than an         White Hone,
                                                                 Chemhill, Wiltshire,
 endpoint for a means, the drawing led to something eise,        England.
 and became prized only long after the fact of its creation.     [Marc Trejb]
 Today the process of maldng the drawing plays a more
 central role. With his entry into the literal space of the
 drawing from the mid-1970s onward, Richard 'futtle has
 explored the line in a series of somewhat notorious tri-
 axial works. 3 He first drew a graphite line upon the wall.
Then, fixing a wire to one end of the drawn line, he bent
the wire to roughly conform to the path of the pencil line
-roughly, but not quite. In some drawings Tuttle also
attached the wire to the wall at its opposite end, or left it
to float freely in space. The gallery's strong incandescent
lighting cast a shadow of the wire upon the white wall,
creating yet another, thlrd., line-completing the perceived
drawmg. As a result of the process of realization Tuttle's
drawmgs enfold three layers or dimensions: the first,
inscribed directly on the wall surface; the second, physical
and pulled from the wall; the third, a virtual projection of
the second upon the second and the first [1-2]. Sculpture?
  medium by which to manifest ideas, a world explored
  by landscape designers such as Frances Butler who used
  shadOVl' to project words tluoughout her garden-messages
  revealed by the position of the soo and cast as projections
  upon the garden's elements. Here the movement of the
  sun renders and erases words drawn by light and their
  corresponding shadow images [1-3]. Having expanded
  fully into three dimensions-and even the fourth dimension
  of time----dra'fling today warrants a new regard.


  II.
  The English word "drawing" suggests a physical act, pulling
     or dragging the tip of a pen or chalk, or crayon or pencil
     across a receiving surface-nonnally paper, cardstock,
     but also board or metal. This notion of drawing-as-pulling
     is somewhat limited, however, contradicting the actions
     required by a nwnber of important drawing practices.
     For example, engraving a copper plate-while actually
     a pushlng motion-might also qualify as drawing. These
     alternate practices caution us not to take a dictionary
     definition too literally. although it may provide a convenient
     point of departure. On the other hand, should we look to
 ·;the Romance languages. we find that the words disegno in
 .•! Italian, and dessin in French. carry the seeds of our word

_~~g~So, rather than merely constituting a physical trace.

   --.
  : drawing pmplies composition and the projection of an id':la.
  . ~ ..                              . .-----,~'"'''~-.....~-'''''-.".,.-
      raw or ripe, for realization. As products, drawings in and
      of themselves may possess their own beauty whether
      intended by the maker or not. The murky crayon drawings
      by Georges Seurat engage us with their richness and
      powers of suggestion, featuring the broad stroke as well
      as their intricate detail noticeable only with close scrutiny
      [1-4]. There may also be a beauty to design drawings, again
 {"whether that asset was intended or not. The Portuguese
 j architect Alvaro Siz~s studies are celebrated for their
 \ active linework and their ability to capture an idea eco-
  , nomically. Frank Gehry sketches, on the other hand, are
  [less precise as descrtptions of form and more evocative
    . of a generating idea and conceptual process (see Hewitt,
   . Chapter 2 in this volume). To some degree, design drawings
    ~ primarily as the byproducts of an investigation, but
      at other times it is the ·artist -ill·the""desig;er who prevails.
values of drawing by hand remain constrained by the                  [1-21
                                                                     Richard Tuttle
default positions established by the programing team.                recreating
The hand drawing, in contrast, comes with no default                  10th Wire Pieca,
positions: we express what we want: it may be quick or               (1912) at the
                                                                     San Francisco
it may take hours to complete: the sketch pad and pencil
                                                                     Museum of Modem
are ponable and go where we go: dravving as a procedure              Art 2005.
is immediate. True, we normally are restricted by estab-             [San Francisco Museum
                                                                     at Modern Art.
lished graphic conventions but these still allOW" considerable
                                                                     Photo: Ben Blackwell)
latihlde in their application and combination. Computer
drawing, at least as yet, offers little of this latitude, although
                                                                     [1-3]
the most inventive programs, like Photoshop, have opened             Frances Butler.
a new world of representation-so much so that the nOtlll             Shadow Garden,
Photoshop has become a verb in corrunon usage: "to                   Berkeley, California,
                                                                     c,1!JB4.
photoshop.,,4 In tandem, the hand and the computer offer             [Marc Treib}            [1-4]
astounding possibilities, but I still contend that the best                                  Georges Seurat
computer-aided drawings are made by those who W1der-                                          Women Bem/ins.
stand the systems of drawing manually.                                                        Viewed frDm Behind,
                                                                                             c.1881-1882.
                                                                                             Black crayon on
We think and we record thoughts using drawings: we                                           cream laid paper.
propose and we test ideas and designs: we adjust and                                         [FinB Arts Museums of
                                                                                             San Francisco. Memorial
create. At some point-and this is one of the miIacle.s of
                                                                                             gift from Dr. T. Edward
drawing-the image begins to tell us more than we have                                        aod Tullah Hanley.
projected into it; n~~_~~~cognized re1ationshiI:;s or                                        Bradford, Pennsylvania,
ideas erneme thatSmnulate further creativity Perhaps for                                     69.30.187]

t~'~;;;-~~;fue '&a~gh;~~;ct the primary
vehicle for concephlalization in architectural and landscape
design. \lVhether creating functionally or metaphorically,
the conceptual sketch embodies the heart of the work,
its essence. Alvar Aalto's sketches, almost always executed
in soft media such as the 6B penciL tested his creative
response to a site and program with dense strokes freely
composed. Even the earliest studies for his 1963 Vuoksen-
niska Church in eastern Finland condensed the concept
for the building with an enviable inunediacy [see 2_5]. 5
Because the congregation varied in size through the difficult
winter months, and because sections of the church might be
used for vary'..ng functions simultaneously, Aalto projected
a three-part scheme for the nave-that is a single nave that
could be divided in three as needed. The sketch was quick
and crude but it contained all the essential ideas for the
building, thereafter developed in more carefully drafted
studies. A sketch for the section of the building elevated
 the tripartite division of the nave vertically, fusing the plan
 and section into a single spatial entity. Additional studies
[1-5J                           idea-what Louis Sulliva'1 called the "seed germ" -had
Alvar Aalla,                    already been captured in the conceptual sketch.
Vuoksenniska Church,
Imatra, Finland, 1963.
Organ study_                    It is said that no one designs like Louis Sullivan any longer
[Alvar Aalto Foundation]        because no one can draw as Sullivan did, In A System of
                                Architectural Ornament, a portfolio produced at the end
                                of his life, Sullivan instructed t~e reader to retain the _seed
                                              r~'-"I




                                ~: a"d from this kernel to elaborate the idea through
                                organic or geometric means [1-6].6 VVh.i.le at fIrst glance
                                a book about embellishment, A System ofArchitectll0l              I'
                                0!!..~::::t ~ mo~ a book about crea@-andnot inciden-
                            j   tally drawmg; 'one can hardly imagme executing design
                                studies such as these by machine. Sullivan's dra"Wings
                                evince an incredibly rigorous symphony of fluid lines,
                                with varymg weights that dance before the eye, conveying
                                impressions of depth and protrusion even within a single
                                elevational study. From these hand drawings, and rather
                                scanty sections, the craftsmen of the era were able to
                                fabricate the terra cotta or cast metal panels of Sullivan's
                                celebrated ornament [1-7]. The link between the draftsman
                                and the craftsman lies in the drawing, and raises the issue
                                of the drawing's auqience.

                              In the fields of archltecture and landscape architecture,
                              drawings service the three basic stages of the creative
                              process; in M'O of these, much remains for drawing by
                              hand. At the conceptual level-as we have just seen-
                              the drawing condenses the idea, perhaps as a formal
                              concept. perhaps as an idea for organization-for example,
                           r; its use to design the Aalto chtuch discussed above~
                            ~ Mendelsolm's condensed ink or pencil studies, each one

                              amy ;;~nii\nches in dimension, encapsulated his archi-
                              tectural ideas and tested them even while mired in the
               'c- .
                              trenches afWorld War I [1-8J. Mendelsolm's sketches
                              convey everything that the computer cannot: personal and
                              reflective, they condense ;;I~ almost as an indelible
        :::

                                -
                              icon. Ideasca;b;-p-;;P~;cted, mocim~-
                              a ccepted quickly The pencil or ink line traces the contour
                              of the form with a speed that comes to reside permanently
                              on the page. This immediacy allows the mind to race, to
                              build, to draw excitement from the process of creation
                              with an exhilaration that increases with each moment, as
                              one tests sketch after sketch in rapid succession. Of course,
{1-6]                        (1-7]
 louis Sullivan,             louis Sullivan,
ASystBmoi                    National Farmers'
Architectural                Bank, Owatonna,
 Ornament, Plate 14,         Minnesota,l!IIIB.
Hntssy, 1922-23.             Terra cona ornament
Graphite on                  model, shown with
StrathmCH'e paper.           craftsman Kristian
[Art Institute of Chicago,   Schneider, American
1988.15.14J                  Terra cuna and
                             Ceramic Company,
                             Crystal lake, Illinois.
                             {Courtesy Tim Samuelson{
     sheet. His drawings ultimately read as a palimpsest of the
     path of design, and a summation of the ideas reviewed,
     accepted, or rejected,

     A conceptual drawing needs to speak only to its creator
     Presentation drawings, on the other hand, address a second
     party, whether that party comprises the other members
     of a design leam or a sponsoring body. Here a clarity
     is demanded unneeded in the conceptual stage. Ideally
     there is personality as well as clarity in the presentation,
     and perhaps it is at this stage that the convenience and
     precision of the computer drawing become more useful
     -not the least of which is its ability to render large areas
     of flat color that is almost impossible to achieve by any
     other means

     And finally we have the construction dOC1.llT!.~.n!s.by which
     the design is realized. T"Rere cO:rr1munication is key and
[   _~~~S!~~tz.~~~:d. Here' ~4i~~Places per~
     sonal expression. 1b achieve effectwe commurtication we
     '~'e~d t~~:ha;;;:;onventionalized understanding of what
     is drawn and how it will be realized, and in this field of
     practice the computer already reigns supreme. The com~
     puter excels at revising, multiplying, calculating numbers
     and areas, and coordinating information. It is a mechanical
     mind that effectively determines the precise ~anner by
    "Wtll'Ch'a landscape or builcling is constructed. In this arena,
     one must admit, the hand~drawing is virtually dead-
     that is, except as the vehicle for producing the myriad
     study drawings behind the construction document, or
     those rough drawings rapidly sketched in the field to
     explain conditions previously unimagmed, or those that
     remain unclear even in the bid documents.


     IV.
    iDesign drawings are governed by far more constraints
    I                                                .
    I than those of the art world, where there eXlSts a greater

    [!teedom to rank expression over communication. In 1976

      Bernice Rose curated the exhibition "Drawing Now" at
      the Museum of Modem Art, New York, one of a series of
      exhibitions to explore the role of drawing in contemporary
      art. 8 In her catalog text, Rose noted that since the seven~
      teenth century the conceptual and autographic aspects
                               the artist, Lhe draVfing. and the perceiver. "The marks of a
                               drawing have only symbolic relationship with experience;'
                               Rose wrote. "It is not only that line does not exist in nature.
                               but the whole relationship construct of a drawing is a
     only to its creator.      conceptual proposition by the artist. to be completed by
     , addreSs a second        the spectator through an act ofideation,,,g She adds that
       other members           until drawmg "had transformed itself through its autographic
      Here a clarity           function and was actually absorbed into a new aesthetic
         stage. Ideally        of 'incompleted' painting, that drawing could cease to
                               function primarily as a step toward painting or sculpture"
                               -or architecture and landscape, we might add. 10
; becc,me more useful
                              .All this is to say; that there is beauty and independence
     render large areas
                               of thought in drawings-as well as that realization to
                               which the drawillg leads. Like artists' drawings. design
                               drawings produce their own forms of fiction that may
                               equal in significance those of the plastic arts, literature,
  docUIll"nts by whiC:1
                               and theater. Frank tJoyd Wright's colored pencil drawings
                               convey a highly personal sensibility as well as an accurate
  ",fion ,lisF,laces per-
                               description of form." Wright developed a manner that
                               matched the feeling of his architecture, especially in its            11·1)
                               relation to the site. In his sturming perspective view of the         Erich Mendelsohn,
                                                                                                     HadassO University
                               1951 Jolmson's Wax tower, for example, Wright reduced his             Medical Cent1tr.
                               palette to carmine red, no doubt to express the "brickness"           Mount Stop us,
                               of the design. 12 From the early prints of the Wasmuth                Jer1lS8le ... 193&.
                                                                                                     Perspective studies
                               portfolio-which were so influenced by the woodblock
                                                                                                     of Ihe llJedical school
                               prints of Japan-to the later colored-pencil renderings,               and audiloriu".
                               all of Wright's drawings displayed a marmer in complete               Graphite Dn tracing
                                                                                                     paper.
                               accord with his architecture. Architectural ideas and
                                                                                                     [Museum of Modem Art.
                              materials changed in the long course of Wright's career                New York Gift of Milton
                               and they were matched by a corresponding evolution in the             Scheinga~en. 92.2COI)

                               way they were drawn In contrast, the computer program
                              controls how the building or landscape will be seen-
                              that is, except by those few who are adept at manipulating
                            r-or modifying the program as purchased. In the new



                            t computer rendering VIle relinquish humanity for expediency
                              and exactitude, and the imprecision of feeling in favor of
                              detailed rendition. Reviewing several of the SubmisSiO~
                              to the Fresh Kills Park competition in the early years of
                              this century ~ expeIience difficulty in distinguishing One i
                                                                                             l
                                                                                                 !
                              e~ from another, so strong is the hand ofth~ p[oQ'Elm
                              ~d ;~~ti-;;~~zed technique in ~~ting the view. L3

                              The importance of the human figure in architectural and
 that vivifies the inert architectural or urban proposition.1 4
 The architects of that time understood life and the relation
 between architecture and living [1-9]. Admittedly; it was
 an understanding to some degree patriarchal, gained
 from the privilege of social class; there is no denying that
 fact. But their understanding of life also derived from the
 practice of drawing from life. In the sketch, one works
 additively; each element is first observed and then recorded
 in the drawing. Normally one draws people as individuals.
 individuals that collectively cohere as a group or even a
 crowd. In the photograph-in contrast-people are cap-
 tured as a mass, an oppositional" other" to the building
 or space that is the photo's primary subject. Individuality
 is necessarily lost in the process, and a certain abstraction
 of the human being results.

   The Photoshop depictions of human beings which I find so
   offensive are adrrtittedly accurate in tenns of proportions
   and details, based as they are on photographs. But the
   superimposition of the figure upon the rendered space
   confesses quite directly the attitude of the designer towards
(the human being in that environment. People and their
1  actions are secondary; they are added; they inhabit a
~ world fonned for them. not by them. 15 In this instance.
 'tEe means of description is hardly neutral: it reflects a
   value system that ranks fonnal accuracy over the liberty
   of artistic interpretation. It is no wonder that numerous
   archttects and landscape'architects-Peter Walker Partners
   and Hargreaves Associates among them-rely on the
   abilities of architectural illustrators like Christopher Grubbs
   for perspective views we might term "empathetic." I6
   Un!Ll(e the deadpan computer rendering, there is life in
   these drawings in both senses of the word.. I imagine that
   in time the machine vvill allow greater personal input and
   influence from a user with only basic skills. I do not think the
   danger lies in the machine itself; the machine is destined


                                        ---
   to become more human over time. The danger is jm:t.the
   reverse: that the human will become more machine-like.
   Thellisertio~";;Tfi~es floating lUlcomf6rul1)19 abo@'1lle
   ground, or awkwardly attached to its surface. illustrates
   this reduction of sensitivity and understanding of life, and
   here lies the real danger for design and designers.                ['-')
                                                                      Eliel Saarinen,
                                                                      Helsinki Railroad
                                                                                          I
 v.
 And what of materials and techniques? Graphite, Conte
 crayon, ink, excavated earth, or snow stains on paper-
virtually anything that can make a mark or leave a stain, a
line or a tone. Of the enonnous range of media, techniques,
and elements let me select only the line. 17 \l'i1hether con-
sciously developed or not, over time most artists and
designers derive a personal line. We regard a signature,
for example, as unique, so unique in fact that it represents
the inimitable symbol of the person. This applies to drawing
as well. Here are a few lines.


The Japanese artist Katushika Hakusai-who is best
known in the West for his woodblock prints-strove to
capture life in his drawings [1-10]. He drew incessantly
throughout his life, p~ucing, it is said, some 40,000
drawings. In his 74th year he offered this statement:
      1 have been in love vllilh painting ever since J became
      conscious of it at the age of six. 1 drew some pictures 1
      thought fairly good when I t-VaS fifty, but really nothing
      J did before the age of seventy was of any value at all.
      At seventy~three J have at last caught evezy aspect of
      nature-birds, fish, animals, insects, trees, grasses, all.
      When 1 am eighty J shall have developed still further,
      and I will really master the secrets of art at ninety.
      When J reach a hundred my work will be truly sublime,
      and my final t'VOrK will be attawed around the age of
      one h~died re~-:;h;;-;;;;; line and dot I ~will
                             ~--.~~--""- "---~.- -
      b~·ir;;b~~:ii:·~Jif.f1-.!8
 ---.-,.,-~-




"While Hokusai's compositions suggest rather than render,
and convey depth through occluding planes rather than
Western perspective~~s..lineo,.work::tl1at,d,e~
the eye and produces character as well as fonn. Of course,
 >~, .. --.. " c ' c ..· , · " ;""i!!!l!ii~,;o.;~~,:;:;,;;o,;r
                             ..
the lines we nonnally View are not Hokusai's own painted
inkwork, but those of the woodblock engraver; in that sense
his line work has been translated through a secondary
medium required for reproduction. On the other hand,
knowing that his drawings were to be reproduced by
woodblock engraving, he painted from life in a certain way.

Hokusai's collection of manga, or observations from life,
served as much as an encyclopedia of nineteenth-century
 grimaces, houses and horses. He even looks at Western              [1-10] (opposite)         [1-111
 perspective. Hokusai's is a w~rld view encapsulated in             Kailishika Hokusai.       Egon Schiele,
                                                                   WGrkers harvesting         Gi,1 with black hair,
 drawings, each beautifully composed, each capturing               rice, from Hokusai        1911.
 something beyond the mere description of fonn.                    Ma"f}a, lIolume 3,        Walercolor and
                                                                   folio 25r, 1115.          pancil on paper.
                                                                   Woodcllf.                 [Museum of Modern Art,
 Line of a very different quality characterized the work of        [Jane Voorhees Zimmerli   New York. Gift ollhe
 the turn-of-the-century Austrian artist Egon Schiele. That        Art Museum. Rutgers,      Galerie SI- Etienne.
 Schiele, who died yOlU1g at the age '0(28, saw the r;;Iation      The State Univmsity 01    New York, in memory 01
                                                                   New Jersey. Acquired      Dr. Otto KaHir; promised
bet\oveen the artist and society as one of cHOiillictisevRren:t"
                                                                   with the Brother Inter·   gift 01 Jo Carole and
irlhls'dra~g;:~d ~~ in'th;;-~ry lines. 20 Hi; subject              national Corporation      Ronald S. Lauder; and
was nonnally the figure, often female, often in pairs. There       Art Acqusilion Fund,      purchase, 1983,
is something in these works that pushes into the page,             1995.0302.003.            607J983J
                                                                   Photugraph: Jack
something that twists the line as the hand traces its path         Abraham]
 [I-II]. There is something in them that seems to graph
with the pen what is traced by the eye, casting the drawing
as a graphic reenactment of vision. These are drawings
possessed, scratches that test the limits of accepted sex-
uality, that test the very limits of societal propriety Like
Hokusai, Schiele relied on the black line in his drawings
and used color only very sparingly; spots of red leave no
doubt as to the where to the eye should come to rest. Color
intensifies the destination, but line constitutes the path.

  Considerations of technique, like considerations of pictorial
 conventions, raise the issue of maker versus viewer. In
 tum, we need to consider the relation between convention
 and invention, between the fimctional duty of drawing and
 artistic license. For construction drawings, convention
 rules-ideally there is no ambiguity in the drawing, and
 communication between designer and constructor is
 lUlhampered. At other times-for example, the conceptual
sketch or the artist's study-no such restrictions need
apply Brice Marden's drawings develop a sense of space
from layers oflines overlaid one upon the other.21 His
early drawings recalled the orthogonal structure of Piet
Mondrian's paintings, wUh straight lines whose varying
weights trapped the white space of the page within their
web. Marden profited from the bleedlng inherent to using
ink on soft paper and accepted the incidents produced by
the medhun independently of the artist's consideration and
controL Later drawings, influenced by Asian calligraphy.
departed from any rectilinear structure while remaining
equally rigorous in their execution. To create these works
the artist mounted his brush on a stick several feet in
Idea, fonn, space, media, technique. These factors coalesce
in the making of drawings. I will conclude this opening
chapter with a short discussion of the dra'Nings ofVmcenl
Van Gogh, the subject of a stunning exhibition in 2005 at
the Metropolitan Musetun of Art in NewYork. 23 Van Gogh
was essentially self-taught, and although his life was tor-
mented by angst and self-doubt he purposefully structured
his life to acquire knowledge and sk:ill. His letters are
filled with descriptions ofills quest to master technique,
t~ ~~.~~.:,:>"::>p:~~_termecrmee ~~~?h
 his art. As he wrote to his brother Theo in 1882: "1 have
 attached great value to drawing and will continue to,
 because it is the backbone of painting, the skeleton that
 supports all the rest."24 Not at flrst, but in the later half of
 his brief artistic life, there is a Ja.p2!l§§~_c_qrmection: not
 only in the employ of flatness also characteristic of works
 by Paul Gauguin, but also in his construction of space.by
lPe,; f\mongVan Gogh's p~~~ted'~""~'
 1887 were two copies of works by another woodblock
 artist, Ando Hiroshige. 25 In these paintings he copies, but
 also tests, what he may learn from Japan. These essays are
 more than pastiche and share with his studies after works
 by Jean-Ftanyois !Vlill.et and other Western painters an
 exploration of the means of depiction. Van Gogh's mature
 career barely ran a decade and during this time he moved
 from the brooding drawings of about 1880 to the fantastic
 circus of strokes he created at the end of his life. 26

Early drawmgs reveal the troubled artist's engagement
willi peasant and worker life arOl.U1d him, its people, customs,
and environment. Although they are highly empathetic,
this is rather dark stuff and the lines that record that life
are left coarse. Interestingly, at one point Van Gogh begins
to rnixlithographic crayon with pencil as a means to
achieve a denser black. He works with the pen and ink
as well as the crayon, and he draws and redraws scenes
of rooms, villages, and shorelines. He asks:
    What is drawing? How does one leam it? It is wor~-\
    through an invisibJe iron wall thai seems to stand between.,
     what one feels and what one can do. How is one to get:
    thro1!gh !.hat wall-since pounding against it is of no
                                                                    11-12]
    use? One must undermine the wall and drill through it           Vincent Van Gogh,
    slowly and patiently.27                                         GtJIdBn wit1t WHping
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                                       Van Gogh [1-12]. These are marvelous drawings in which
                                       forms and shadows shaIB equal strength and identity: He
                                       renders the details not as darker tones of a basic texture
                                         or color, but as independent shapes that cohabit the same
                                         worlds as the fonns that cast those shadows. The drawing
                                         comprises a world of lines and strokes: strokes that define
                                         (ann, determine shade, and delineate space. In response to
                                         criticism of his chmky proportions, Van Gogh responded
                                         in this way, noting that if you want an exact replica you
                                      C-;hould make a photograph: "Tell [the painter Serret]
                                      '\ that my great longing is to make those very [anatomical]
                                       incorrectnesses, those deviations, remodelings, changes
                                        in reality, so that may become, yes, lies if you like-but

                                      --
                                      i truer than the literal truth."28 In these drawings Van Gogh
                                                         ~
                                        achieves a world created on its own terms, a world that
                                        fuses the autographic and the functional aspects of drawing.
                                        A complementary form of expression for his ideation.

                                       In this chapter I have only touched upon a series of
                                       themes that will be explored and further developed by
                                       other chapters in this book. These are our principal issues
                                       and concerns: ideas and drawings, objectivity and empathy;
                                       fonns and spaces, media and teclmiques. These are but a
                                       hand...ill of thoughts on drawings, and a handful of thoughts
                                       intended more to provoke than to answer.




28 J MARC TREIB I PAPER OR PLASTIC?

								
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