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Michael Craig-Martin – Drawing the Line

An evening with artist Michael Craig-Martin at the British Museum

16 October 2004, Stevenson Lecture Theatre

To coincide with 'The Big Draw' and ‘Surfacing’ at Milton Keynes Gallery

…“The most striking thing about many of the drawings of the past and of other cultures is how ‘modern’ they look. I believe this is because the qualities we have come to value most highly in art in the twentieth century have always been present in art, but usually in the past have characterised only modest and ‘secondary work’; that is, drawings. These characteristics include spontaneity, creative speculation, experimentation, directness, simplicity, abbreviation, expressiveness, immediacy, personal vision, technical diversity, modesty of means, rawness, fragmentation, discontinuity, unfinishedness, and open-endedness. These have always been the characteristics of drawing.

Seen in this light, the lines of continuity between the art of the past and that of our own time are both strong and clear. It is my view that the new in art is never truly new, but the result of ascribing high value and importance to an aspect of art that was previously not thought worthy of serious consideration. In our own century, we have come to place the highest value on those characteristics which have previously been seen only as aspects of the early stages in the making of a work of art, stages exemplified by drawing. The expressive freedom shown by artists in previous centuries in the preliminary stages of their work, in drawings, is seen in much of the major finished work of the twentieth century.”

Michael Craig-Martin – extract from publication ‘Drawing the Line –Reappraising drawing past and present’ The South Bank Centre (1995)


Michael Craig-Martin


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