‘Notations’ opened at the Mildred Lane Kemper Museum in St Louis US in 2012. For this research point we are asked to look at the museum’s archive section on their website and to research notions of process in drawing. The archive was curated by Meredith Malone and is very easy to navigate and is very well put together.
Notations was an exhibition devoted to looking at contemporary drawing as ideas and process – focusing on practice from the 1950’s to the 1970’s as well as more current work. The 1950’s is generally seen as the period when drawing entered a process of innovation. The exhibition included work from artists that represented some of the art movements of this time frame including minimalism, post- minimalism and conceptual art. The show was also divided into two themes “repetitive and serial systems” and “Presentation, drawing and proposals”.
The website also contained useful interviews with some of the exhibiting artists. I began by looking at the artists and then I focussed on the ones that I felt resonated more with me and offered an insight into the exhibition. As I tend to respond more when actually viewing a show than reading about it. Once I had selected some artists I wrote some brief notes – these are my notes:
Anastasti – “untitled ( subway drawing) 2009 is a small drawing using graphite. The piece has lots of energy and movement with a range of gestural pencil marks. Anastasi describes his process by saying that the drawings are not about looking as he draws whilst walking! . Anastasi finds that walking aids and intensifies his thinking processes. He refers to his drawings as ‘a kind of mediation ‘. I really felt that Anastasi’s drawings do capture a sense of movement and they have a sense of rhythm that I find interesting. I also find that walking as it’s often a solitary activity does focus the mind and I can see that he does have the power to potentially heighten the creative senses.
Bartlett’s drawing process is very rigorous and mathematical. Bartlett’s drawings are characterised by grid like forms. “chicken tracks” 1973 is a mixed media piece using enamel, silkscreen on steel plates, is part of her “nine points” series where she uses black and red dots applied in a random manner. However they are not randomly placed at all , as each dot placement has been pre-determined to resemble the steps of chickens. It’s a very clever device that has a decorative quality. I really admire how Bartlett has plotted her drawings making carefully calculations as a process.
Schiff’s drawing process is related to the physical world. There is a process before making the drawings. In 2006 Schiff began a series of “laid line drawings”. The process it’s self started with Schiff making rubbings of floors to gain an insight into texture. The “laid line drawings” are her response to texture. Schiff’s drawing practice is also borne out of mediation to allow her the physical sense of being in touch with drawing and the paper. ‘I want to understand the paper but though the senses “. The drawings themselves invite the viewer to have a visual experience of what is immediately in front of them. Schiff uses reactive paper that has a fine wire ribbed structure which adds a grid like effect. The actual drawing process is very controlled as each column is envolved it is annotated in grey to indicate the density of the graphite very much like a form coding the hues and tonal values of the drawing. Schiff feels that her lines represent a separate moment and that each mark is unique despite the repetitive nature of her lines. I really like and admire the way that Schiff is able to fully immerse herself in her drawing process. There is a sense that every line and mark is important.
O’Bryan uses drawing to experience language visually and viscerally in response to the body. O’Bryan’s process envolved commitment – everyday she makes a few marks. One of this very controlled process O’Bryan produced a series of breath drawings using just pencil and paper. She has allowed O’Bryan to develop a very physical relationship with her drawings commenting “….. I discovered that this activity also had a rhythm that correlated with breathing. So I started counting my breaths as I was drawing – archiving my breaths “. The drawings are painstakingly constructed 40,00 breaths took five years to complete. O’Bryan would work on her piece then leave it before returning to it. She describes the work as very imarnate with no time constrains. Again I admire the physicality of the work. It has a very smoothing quality. I also like the idea of producing work that is imbued with the power of life – breathing is the essential ingredient of life it’s self and is therefore powerful as well as necessary. Every breath we take is a process so I felt exploring such a personal and fundamental theme was very inspiring ( I am an asthmatic so I am I tuned to my lungs). Very powerful I really would like to see these drawings in the flesh!
Straffella has a very unusual and interesting drawing process she uses a typewriter to produce marks. The drawings have a repetitive structure yet despite the constraints of the typewriter keys each mark does process a uniqueness. Strafella as part of the process uses a carbon paper sheet placed over the paper so there is an element of surprise when the drawing is removed and the carbon overlay is peeled back. The result yields two drawings that represent the negative and the positive. Strafella describes using the typewriter as part of the rhythm of the drawing and being aware of the sound of the keys. Again there is a sense of drawing being a very sensory emotion. I really like the inventive way of drawing that Strafella explores. I also like the sense of mystery at the end of the drawing process. I have completed the printmaking 1 module and in many ways Strafella’s process reminded me of printmaking.
Holt uses drawing as a process to map out and plan site- specific installation work. “Study for sun tunnels “ 1976 graphite and crayon is a preparatory piece for a large sculptural work. Holt was part of the 1960’s land art movement whose aim was to explore the relationship between humans and the natural environment. Holt in her drawing presents an abstracted piece for her planned sculpture. She uses simple lines to explore diagrammatic forms annotating her drawings as they evolve. Using drawing Holt also records distances and registers placements. I feel that there is a sense of order in the drawing and there is also elements of an architects drawing in the composition. “ as diagrams and as tools For plotting the relationship among various elements, this work and other drawings were essential to the planning and execution of Holts large scale sculptural installation. Beyond the practical function, the drawings illustrates a vital layer in Holt’s conception …….. emphasising the importance of visual and spacial interrelationships within the organisational structure of the piece …………” ( reference http://notions.aboutdrawing.org/ ). I am always interested in how the process of drawing is used to imform large sculptural works and looking at Holt’s drawing does offer an insight into the initial process and also demonstrates the role that drawing plays in the process.
I really found looking at the Notations exhibition and researching the archive very interesting and useful. The site was very informative with excellent content.
I discovered some useful information about drawing as a process and how drawing can be explored in a number of ways. It was interesting to learn about the way each artist developed a relationship to drawing and how they use the medium to explore this relationship. There was a sense of the power of drawing and it’s physically. In many ways I feel that drawing can be very personal and intimate as it allows the artist to delve into parts of their psyche. Looking at this research point again demonstrated how drawing can imform the artist as it begins a process that culminates into other work such as sculpture and installation art. I also discovered a relationship between drawing and mathematics. I learnt how drawing is very assessable how it is portable allowing artists to explore their surroundings in public places such as the subway. There was also elements of the spiritual and meditative qualities of drawing explored in the exhibition. Finally it is evident that drawing works on many levels and it takes on many forms and can be used in many ways. That as a process it is vital and fundamental. It has many facets – it can be used to calculate, plot, experiment, as note taking, to record, to make decisions , explore themes , to map , as a diary, as a sensory experience, to think and to mediate amongst many other things.