Tracy Emin was on BBC national news recently talking about her new show at White Cube. (whatever happened to the BBC’s ban on advertising?). She talked about the work as though it had profound personal and universal resonance, and she was taken seriously by the presenter. This is astonishing, because by any descriptive or artistic measure that I value her work is immature incompetent rubbish. She is, to cap it all, and by one of the great ironies that soak our culture, Professor of Drawing at the Royal Academy. I’m not going to insult great artists by putting her stuff on the same page as them so you can Google her drawings yourself.
Drawing has a number of definitions because it has a number of purposes. What most definitions have in common is observation, exploration, preparation, and visual evocation of the material world. They are judged successful by their qualities (e.g elegance, gravity, wit etc.), their inventiveness, truth, accuracy of depiction and insight. Also whether they are good preparation for work which is to follow, for example by formulating good compositions or spaces for paintings, or good indication of form for painting or sculpture. All this visually, for in the extent to which you need words to explain a drawing, to that extent it has failed.
We have such a wealth of examples of good drawing that any survey is partial but some favourites of mine are;
The 20th century saw an explosion of values and therefore styles come onto the scene but the core values remained.
Sargent (worth 2)
Compositional studies by Robert Fawcett
In the present day, we’re not short of good draughtsmen. There are many excellent Americans although for my taste a bit too self consciously academic like Robert Liberace who nevertheless obviously enjoys himself.
Kent Williams’ self consciously artificial images
Over here in the UK, Steve Young’s inventive compositions
another friend’s drawings, set designer and painter John Macfarlane are fluid, witty and graceful
and me (Top)