Drawing as Drawing

Fernand Léger Contrast of Forms 1913

“The advent of nonrealistic art has largely changed the relation of drawing to painting. Abstract painters (if not abstract sculptors) seldom make preliminary drawings, and even when they do they can’t so easily escape the control of the sheet. Even their merest notations tend to be pictures, “finished” that is. (The case of drawing shows, more clearly than anything else maybe, how difficult it is for abstract pictorial art to work in terms of parts, let alone details.) And then drawing as drawing – let’s say as line – tends to get less covered up as it were in abstract or quasi-abstract painting or in painting that takes broad liberties with Nature. So many Klees could be called painted drawings. In so much of Braque’s and Picasso’s painted Cubism, not to mention their collages, it’s hard to say what is drawing as drawing and what isn’t. The same for Leger’s paintings of 1912- 14.” [Clement Greenberg Drawing]

Édouard Manet Mademoiselle V. . . in the Costume of an Espada 1862

… Manet emphasizes certain characteristics which have nothing to do with verisimilitude but which assert that the painting in question is exactly that: a painting. For example, Manet emphasizes the flatness of the picture-surface by eschewing modelling and (as in the Dejeuner) refusing to depict depth convincingly, calls attention to the limits of the canvas by truncating extended forms with the framing-edge, and underscores the rectangular shape of the picture-support by aligning with it, more or less conspicuously, various elements within the painting. (The notions of emphasis and assertion are important here. David and Ingres rely on rectangular composition far more than Manet; and some of Ingres’ forms have as little modelling as Manet’s. But David and Ingres are not concerned to emphasize the rectangularity or the flatness of the canvas, but rather they make use of these to insure the stability of their compositions and the Tightness of their drawing.) [Michael Fried on Drawing]

Paul Cezanne The Plaster Cupid 1902-04

“There is only a distant reminiscence in the Auvers picnic of the descriptive convention in one or two sprigs of leaves that terminate the foliage in paintings like the House of Pere Lacroix and the etching of the rue Remy. For a time Cezanne’s drawing remained like a beleaguered relic of the convention that had guided him in his twenties but the anecdote and the description were soon gone for ever. Drawing never evolved a visual code to compare with the analysis of sensation in paint. Its abstraction was of quite another kind, analyzing and synthesizing the sensations of art which were to fill his later sketchbooks. [Lawrence Gowing on Cezanne’s drawings]

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