4.3 Installation – contextual research

I looked at the work curated for the 2010 Edinburgh Online exhibition, Particularly the section entitled ‘line extension’ at


In Gallery 4 I enjoyed looking at the drawing by Michael Snow “A man with a line”. It reminded me of the sgraffito work I did earlier in the course, the red and white lines reminiscent of Klee’s transferred line technique which I used in some of my experiments.

It’s complex shades and textures contrast with the next drawing, Sophie Taeuber-Arp’s Lignes géométriques et ondoyantes, which has an interesting tension between straight and curved ; there is no background informing the lines, which themselves have no variation at all in speed, thickness, pressure, colour etc. She has tried to achieve an expression of the dance purely through shape of line, but because the texture of the lines appears mechanical I don’t think it captures the subtle beauty of human movement.

In Gallery 6 the two drawings by Ellsworth Kelly grabbed my attention. The blind drawing “Automatic drawing: pine branches” was done by the artist’s hand and reminded me to revisit an idea I had earlier in the course when I wanted to capture the natural movement of tree branches blowing in the wind. I was thwarted then by the complete absence of wind and, disappointed, resorted to a mechanical meals of tracing movement. I looked at https://ellsworthkelly.org/work/ and found, among colour-block paintings, some beautifully simple, elegant line drawings – a poppy, a beanstalk, a drooping sunflower in graphite; a Siberian Iris in Thick lines of black ink.

I liked Pierette de Bloch’s “Fil de Crin”, and followed up by finding out more about her work – see later.

Karel Malich created sculptures/drawings made of lines of wire. Sometimes he hangs a three dimensional wire drawing in front of a two dimensional drawing or a plain background rectangle, the whole becoming the work, a synthesis of 3D and 2D.

Graffiti and street art

“Graffiti art as a term refers to images or text painted usually onto buildings, typically using spray paint” (https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/g/graffiti-art).

Street art uses the walls of private property, the street itself, or even vehicles as its canvas; collage, stencil, print, stickers and drawing as media. The point is to use the physical subject and location in combination with the artwork in order to make its point. Banksy’s art has been compared to Warhol, in using images from popular culture and manipulating them to make a statement.

Despite being illegal, street art has become accepted, even institutionalised. The Tate has held exhibitions of it, and published walking tours, videos etc., street artist accept commissions, and scholars now write articles about street art.

I was familiar with Holbein’s skull in The Ambassadors, and the anamorphosis to be found on football pitches, although I hadn’t made the connection. I enjoyed looking at the skilful chalk art on street pavements of Kurt Wenner and Edgar Mueller. The juxtaposition of Wenner’s subjects with glimpses of a tortured underworld breaking out of the very ground we stand on shocks, as much as the vertigo the viewer feels looking at the illusion of an infinitely deep hole in the ground.

Krasinski is also creating a perspectival illusion in his work, using mirrors and blue masking tape in a room. The blue line creates a relationship between the viewer, the room and the objects in it.

Pierette Bloch is described as using ‘poor materials’ because of her use of, for example, hardboard, rope, horsehair and cheap white paper strips dabbed with black ink and mounted on a plain white wall. The long horsehair lines, like sculptures suspended in space, have been described as like musical notation or calligraphy, as are the ink blots – “The work often appears a lyrical species of notation or calligraphy or even the graphic equivalent of mime” (https://artcritical.com/2009/05/11/pierrette-bloch-at-haim-chanin/). I enjoyed looking at them and at her ink blot drawings, quite elegant and like some ancient rhythmic script mumbling way to itself! I love the luxurious blackness of ink, and enjoyed making my own ink blot drawings earlier in the course.

In response to Bloch’s use of horsehair I picked up some tangled tendrils of seaweed from the high water mark. At home I soaked and softened them, hung them to dry and saw how they dried in the shapes I had given them; I played with using them while wet to create drawings, leaving them to dry. I’m not sure how I‘ll use this discovery in my drawings but the lines are so attractive I will go back to them soon: there is something in them that recalls Paul Klee’s work.

Seaweed drawing

Louise Bourgeois made many versions of Spider; whether in bronze and granite, steel and marble, or drawn in ink and charcoal, made into small brooch or a room-sized sculpture, or written in a poem, throughout her career it was a recurring theme. Like Pierette Bloch’s horsehair sculptures, Bourgeois’ Spider could be viewed as a drawing in three dimensions, but really these definitions and distinctions are less important to me since Ive been researching drawing as encompassing a wider range of practise.

Reading list (Web sites accessed 12 Sep 2019)

Pierrette Bloch at Haim Chanin


Pierrette Bloch Retrospective at Galerie Karsten Greve, Paris




Author: janecrathern

I am studying with OCA for a BA Honours Degree in Painting. This is my learning log.

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