The Primacy of Drawing

Histories and Theories of Practice

Deanna Petherbridge

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In this important and original book, Deanna Petherbridge—herself a practicing artist—affirms the significance of drawing as visual thinking in western art from the 15th century to the present. Scrutinizing a wide range of drawings, Petherbridge confirms a long historical commitment to the primal importance of sketching in generating ideas and problem solving, examines the production of autonomous drawings as gifts or for pleasure, and traces the importance of the life-class and theories of drawing in the training of artists until well into the 20th century. She also addresses the changing role of drawing in relation to contemporary practice and its importance for conceptual artists working in a nonhierarchical manner with a multiplicity of practices, techniques and technologies.
In addition to analyzing specific works by Leonardo, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Goya, Picasso, and other great draftsmen, Petherbridge pays close attention to those artists traditionally regarded as “minor” because of their graphic elaboration or involvement with caricature and play, as well as to the important contribution of women artists in the 20th and 21st centuries. Responding to the vibrant rediscovery of drawing as significant practice in studios, exhibitions, and art schools, Petherbridge proposes an ambitious and novel agenda for the study and enjoyment of drawing.

Deanna Petherbridge is a practising artist. She was formerly Professor of Drawing at the Royal College of Art and is now Visiting Professor of Drawing at the University of the Arts London.

'Petherbridge's 500-page study should convince anyone of drawing's centrality, its often apparent simplicity and also its deep mysteriousness. Hers is a great book written by someone who both draws and thinks seriously about an activity in which it is often almost impossible to tell what was made 500 years or five minutes ago.' — Adrian Searle, The Guardian

"[A] well-thought-out and intelligent book."--Library Journal

'A magisterial book...a great book' - Adrian Searle, The Guardian

'Voted Art Book of the Year' by Brian Sewell in the London Evening Standard, December 2010

'With its wealth of superb reproductions and deep, wide wision of art history, The Primacy of Drawing stands as a unique resource and source of pleasure' - Julian Bell, Time Literary Supplement

"When Petherbridge addresses the subject as an artist and practitioner, discussing drawing as a medium, artefact and an activity, she speaks directly, forcefully, and is an informed and genial companion who writes with sensitivity and precision."—Beverly Schreiber Jacoby, The Art Newspaper

‘The book could only have been written by an erudite, mature scholar…. Petherbridge is steeped in drawing’s history and her knowledge of artists, periods, media, and techniques is enormously impressive…In the end we have a very impressive piece of scholarship which weaves together many histories and ideas…..The Primacy of Drawing, offering wise words and hundreds of fascinating drawings, will delight its readers/viewers."—Marion Arnold, The Art Book

"…The author leaps across space and time, choosing unfamiliar examples to make unexpected connections which are at one practical, thought-provoking and freighted with contemporary relevance…It wholly redefines what the study of drawing means in the 21st century."—Timothy Wilcox, Apollo

“Petherbridge’s approach is transhistorical, meaning that she leaps back and forth…she looks at individual works with the practised, analytical eye of an artist, picking out details that illuminate our understanding….There has never been a more comprehensive study of drawing. Petherbridge’s research has been prodigious and the quotations alone are reason enough for buying this book.”—John McDonald, The Sydney Morning Herald

"This beautifully produced book greatly expands the nature and ambition of most drawing exhibition catalogues. Petherbridge combines the keen eye of a curator with the sensitivity and technical understanding of a practicing artist. . . . This handsome volume is a delight to peruse and a rich resource for anyone interested in drawing."—W. E. Wallace, CHOICE

"A dazzling selection."—Kenneth Baker, San Francisco Chronicle

“The Primacy of Drawing: Histories and Theories of Practice under the tree, I’ll buy it, gladly.”—Marina Warner, The Observer (Christmas Books)

ISBN: 9780300126464
Publication Date: July 13, 2010
524 pages, 9 1/2 x 11
324 illus.