On Drawing: Thinking and Making in Architecture and Art -- Advanced Study in the History of Art seminar


From the sixteenth century to the present drawing has been understood as the medium that most directly expresses artistic thought. From the informal sketch of a first idea to the highly finished documents that allow others to fabricate a finished product of painting, sculpture, or architecture, drawings represent the forms that embody the ideas of composition and meaning at the heart of the work of art. The material of drawing has changed dramatically since its mythic origin as a charcoal outline on the wall of a cave but what that first image has in common with the most recent ones, including images generated on a computer screen, is its abstraction. Drawing’s very limitations—what an image shows and what it does not--can signal the qualities that, for the artist or the age, are most important in a design.

Drawing has been alternately theorized as the activity that unifies architecture and art or as the very activity that distinguishes one from the other. This course pays particular attention to the historical and contemporary intersections between artistic and architectural theory and practice. It attends to the shifting transformation of drawings from a tool of production to a prized object worthy of collection and exhibition and pays particular attention to the ways the modern market for drawings has conditioned thinking about architecture and art. Today, in symposia such as "Is drawing dead? (Yale)" to "Does drawing have a future? (MIT)", to the exponential increase of contemporary drawings exhibitions, drawing is again at the center of architectural and artistic discourse.