Drawing People: The Human Figure in Contemporary Art
Given a large (9 3/8” x 13”) page size, this very attractive compilation of contemporary art—drawings on paper—provides an excellent review of a medium that is too often overlooked.
Drawing examples from around the globe and organizing them into five sections (Body, Self, Personal Lives, Social Reality, and Fictions), the author has provided an overview of current trends and fashions in art via this medium.
Malbert’s introduction acknowledges the origins of drawing as planning for larger, more detailed, or physically different works. He points to Leonardo da Vinci and Albrecht Dürer as perhaps the two artists who first made drawing a stand-alone medium and mentions with some surprise that the two were nearly contemporaries. In fact, their lives overlapped for 48 years.
The staggering breadth of regions represented by the artists chosen for this volume begs the question of how Malbert could have found them all. Granted, many have gravitated to art centers—of the Americans chosen, all but two live in New York while the others are in Los Angeles. But these artists, ranging by birth from Austria to Zimbabwe, are scattered still, representing 34 countries, large and small, with only Australia and New Zealand as regions unrepresented.
The work varies as one would expect from hyper realism to nearly non-representational. There is pure line, chiaroscuro, and color. Reproduction of the art is generous, both in printing quality and size. Each artist’s name, birth date, birthplace, and current location is provided. Some works speak eloquently of the artist’s ethnicity and others reflect this age of instant communication—the blurring of borders.
Roger Malbert is head of Hayward Touring at the Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London, and is a contributor to The Independent, Times Literary Supplement, The Art Newspaper, and Modern Painters.