Attitudes to drawing in Britain, 1918-1964

Aspinall, Kate (2013) Attitudes to drawing in Britain, 1918-1964. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Numerous artists and theorists in Britain between 1918 and 1964 produced rich bodies of drawing-orientated work, yet these endeavours receive little analysis. In order to account for
them as more than isolated anomalies, the nature and importance of drawing during the period needs to be reconsidered – not only within private practices, but also as a concept in the wider cultural field. When engaging with a medium that does not have a fixed identity, and so does not remain stable within a historical narrative, it is not enough to write figures back into history; it is necessary to excavate a history for figures to be written back into. The history of early-twentieth-century Britain must include the full spectrum of significant permutations of the concept of drawing, and this thesis takes steps toward uncovering these permutations and analysing their development in relation to each other.

The four chapters, approximately one from each decade, explore key concerns in the evolving significance of drawing. The introduction provides a theoretical foundation for the
approach, historical evidence for the period’s importance, and a methodology for treating drawing as a concept. The first chapter explores how Roger Fry and D. S. MacColl’s 1918-
1919 debate in the Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs introduced a theoretical conflict between modernism and drawing. The second chapter examines how reading for design in paintings led to increased awareness of drawings as material traces within other art-objects, notably watercolours. The third chapter explores the importance of the sketch aesthetic during the Second World War for conditioning a form of drawing literacy. The final chapter evaluates notions of objectivity in relation to William Coldstream’s post-war experiments. These episodes combine to foreground the importance of understanding drawing’s difficult relationship with modernism and to demonstrate how it underlies drawing’s recent revival in current practice and theory.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art History and World Art Studies (former - to 2014)
Depositing User: Users 5605 not found.
Date Deposited: 07 May 2014 15:29
Last Modified: 31 May 2015 00:38

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