Contemporary Drawing

What does the medium of drawing entail in contemporary culture? 

With the advent of contemporary art, many artists are beginning to question the nature and limits of drawing, pushing the boundaries of what a drawing can mean and be. The modern language of visual arts has led to an "expanded field" of operations in all disciplines. (While "expanded field" is a term coined by art historian Rosalind Krauss in 1979 mainly in reference to sculpture, it can equally be applied to the expansion of drawing practice).

While artists continue to use traditional means in creating drawings, utilizing tools such as the pen, pencil or brush for notebook sketches or studies, they are also seeking novel materials and methods to create with, such as but not limited to: processes like cutting, smudging, burning, scratching, sticking, writing and sewing, and materials from wax and gold to diamond dust and feathers. Contemporary drawings can explore the relationship of art to its surroundings, through room installations (i.e. murals), or art to mechanization and technology, through combinations of drawing with printmaking, or through site-specific installations that utilize videography to translate drawings. Commonly held distinctions between drawing and and other mediums such as painting, sculpture, land art and even performance, are collapsed, as a newfound inventiveness in image-making portrays how drawing is as dynamic a medium as ever in the modern age. In aiming to be ever more adventurous with materials and techniques, artists are not only just asking what drawing is, but how it differentiates from other activities. 

By gradually entering the global stage, drawing regains a political urgency in the contemporary art world, and emerges as a convenient, efficient, and often inexpensive medium in which artists can turn to when other forms are not as readily available. Ultimately the meaning of the terms "drawing" and "contemporary" can only be defined by their nature of being undefinable, and completely open to the individual's creative processes. 

Flute Player
pencil on paper
20 7/8 in. x 26 in. ( 53 cm x 66 cm )
Gift of Bruce and Inta Hasenkamp and Museum purchase made possible by Elder and Mrs. Sang-Yong Nam
This drawing and collage shows the head of a figure with gray diamonds and blue stripes across his face. Strips and diamonds in a metallic material overlay the drawing. The piece is in the artist-made original frame and the drawing is signed and dated on the veneer (l.r.) "A. Mania 06".
Andrew Mania
Silver Diamond
collage and pencil on veneer in artist's frame
17 in x 14 in (43.18 cm x 35.56 cm)
Gift of Leonard Rosenberg
Carol Ross
colored pencil on paper
19 15/16 in. x 26 in. ( 50.7 cm x 66.1 cm )
Gift of Michele Oka and Frederick Doner
Line drawing in felt tip marker on ivory ~ 10x13” paper with shading. Woman’s arm and dress and the cash register are partially filled in with black, as well as a pane of the stained glass window that she holds. The wall, pitcher, parts of the woman’s head and shoulder covering and bodice, and cash register have been modeled in stylized “half tone” of zigzag separating white and black; shadows take the form of dense curlicues. The tablecloth bears a “pattern” of crosses and eye-shaped forms. The map has been filled in with fingerprints.
Mark Kostabi
Progress of Beauty 3
ink on paper
12 1/16 x 9 1/16 in. (30.5 x 23 cm)
The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States, a joint initiative of the Trustees of the Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection and the Nation Gallery of Art, with generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Institute for Museum and Library Services
Robert Kushner
ink, gold leaf and silver leaf on Japan paper
19 3/16 in. x 13 1/8 in. ( 48.8 cm x 33.3 cm )
Gift of Donna Ann Welton in memory of Cal French
Burhan Cahit Doğançay
gouache and collage on paper
13 3/4 in x 24 in (35 cm x 61 cm)
Anonymous gift
Jirí Kubovy
graphite, ink and rope collage on paper
4 7/16 in x 6 5/16 in (11.27 cm x 16.03 cm)
Gift of the artist
This mixed media painting has a graffiti aesthetic. There are a series of portraits, one large in spray paint in the center of the work and a number of smaller ones in collaged newspaper. Throughout the composition are stenciled phrases in black and red paint as well as inscribed phrases in pen and various colored paints. There are also a number collaged pieces of newspaper. The work is signed and dated (l.r.) "B Dogancay / 2009" in yellow paint.
Burhan Cahit Doğançay
Give Peace a Chance
collage and mixed media on canvas
43 in x 62 in (109.22 cm x 157.48 cm)
Anonymous gift
Acrylic paint on canvas with collage elements, including a wooden protusion on the right side, the left side painted to look like canvas, and a clear, thicker medium on the right side of the piece creating a multi-textural appearance. 
Fabian Marcaccio
acrylic with collaged elements on canvas
20 1/4 in x 21 in (51.43 cm x 53.34 cm)
Gift of Leonard Rosenberg
At the center of this print, there is a large bust in a variety of colors (orange, yellow, green, black, blue) and a kind of floating hat in brown and purple. The face is created by a series of collaged images. There is a mouth and one eye on the head and another collaged mouth sits at the edge of the figure's clothing, like a brooch. Coming out from the right side of the head, there is a line drawing of a woman's profile with lines emanating from her eyes and ear. In the background, there is a simple landscape. The print is signed (l.r.) and numbered (l.l.) in pencil.
Salvador Dali
Maquillage Cyclopéen
drypoint etching, lithograph, screenprint and collage on paper
30 5/16 in x 21 15/16 in (76.99 cm x 55.72 cm)
Anonymous Gift
Stephen Edlich
Homage to Miró III
acrylic, paper, charcoal, and wood on canvas
4 ft. 6 in. x 36 1/16 in. (137.1 x 91.5 cm);5 ft. 3 in. x 4 ft. x 2 1/2 in. (160.02 x 121.92 x 6.35 cm)
Gift of A. Paul and Ellen G. Victor
Two nude women, a telephone, and a car crash are rendered in graphite on a red ground. Any suggestion of narrative is subverted through abrupt changes in scale and a flattened-out, depthless pictorial space.
David Salle
Untitled (Dark Red)
acrylic, graphite, charcoal and diamond dust on canvas
52 in x 72 in (132.08 cm x 182.88 cm);53 1/8 in x 73 1/4 in (134.94 cm x 186.06 cm)
Gift of the Lannan Foundation in Honor of the Pelham Family


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Last Updated

November 16, 2020 12:08 p.m.


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