Department of History of Science and Ideas

Ivan Gaskell: "To Draw. To Paint."

  • Date: 28 February, 13:15–15:00
  • Location: Engelska parken - The Rausing Room
  • Organiser: Department of History of Science and Ideas, Office for History of Science
  • Contact person: H. Otto Sibum
  • Seminarium

Office for History of Science

Ivan Gaskell, Bard Graduate Centre, New York: "To Draw. To Paint."


Abstract
In Western thinking, drawings and paintings are rarely far apart—either the one conceived as being preparatory to the other, or as different in kind—yet there have been few attempts formally to define either. Establishing what each might be in respect of necessary and sufficient conditions or of family resemblance swiftly encounters difficulties. This lecture examines a wide range of boundary-challenging examples from areas such as scientific illustration, non-Western practices, photography, typography, contemporary art, and aerobatics. It initially proposes a definition of a drawing as marks resulting from gestures governed by a temporal span in their execution. Yet at what point—if ever—does a drawing become a painting? Following a survey of practices from various parts of the world, this lecture argues—contrary to art historical orthodoxy—that a painting is no more than a specialized type of drawing. Following further examination of phenomena in the natural world, this lecture adds a further qualification that drawings are the result of purposive human activity. Drawings can but need not be art, either communicative or not, and either expressive or not. They can exist in any number of media, on any number of surfaces, or, on occasion, not on any surface at all. A Western notion of what a drawing is may serve as a reasonable guide within Western culture in the present era, but stray from either and surprises follow. Not content with a notion alone, this lecture proposes a concept of drawings as things that include paintings, proposing them to be marks that trace the course of gestures within a discernable temporal span, the whole being purposive.