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2018-05-02

How drawing became contemporary art

We cannot speak of a single technique within artistic drawing. Strokes may be quite different from one another, depending on each artist. Drawing was considered a traditional graphic technique up to the 20th Century, when it became an art due to its importance among outstanding artists. Hereunder, we tell you how drawing became contemporary art, and how drawings are valuable pieces, worthy of our Balclis drawing auctions.

Techniques and materials used in artistic drawing

Drawing’s most common support is paper, although in contemporary art other supports such as cardboard, canvas, glass, parchment, wood, plastic, etc. were used. Some artists were even inspired by collage and completely changed the drawing’s initial composition. In the 20th Century, artists such as Degas, Cézanne, Picasso and Klee prevented drawing from decreasing due to the decadence of academic education on that field.

The most traditional instrument to draw has been the graphite pencil. Contemporary artists went further and, in the 20th Century, they used fountain pens, charcoals, ink and some cutting edge artists also used fire to express images and they even considered that drawing could be three-dimensional, just as in the case of contemporary sculpture.


In the 20th Century, artists such as Degas, Cézanne, Picasso and Klee prevented drawing from decreasing due to the decadence of academic education on that field

Drawing in contemporary art was used mixed with other techniques, such as the application of plastic or synthetic materials, as Marcel Duchamp, for example, did; he often made drawings with threads, lead, varnishes and powder layers on aluminium, wood and steel sheets. Many other contemporary artists also managed to make drawing move in parallel with space.

Chronology and importance of drawing in the contemporary era

Drawing is one of the most traditional artistic techniques. It is a direct technique that makes easier the execution and materialization of the artist’s ideas and thoughts. Drawing has played a secondary role within painting throughout the history of art. Nevertheless, we must bear in mind that before a work of art there’s always a sketch or a previous study, which is used by the artist to get the final result. Traditionally, it was not considered an artistic genre, but the process that shaped the idea which ended up being reflected in painting; however, it has begun to gain importance since the 19th Century.

Drawing became important because of the armed conflicts and political and social changes during the contemporary era, which made drawing was always present. Some examples of this are the Second World War and the Spanish Civil War. Artists found creativity and passion to reflect horror and tragedy before such events. A great example was Pablo Picasso when he painted “El Guernica”. He used several sketches for each character and symbolisms that he would later reflect on the canvas. Audience can understand the sensations and feelings that those events caused in the 20th Century society. Meaningful drawing can transmit the artists’ most intimate and their deepest. It also brings the freedom and immediacy that painting cannot reach in many occasions.

Uses of drawing in other artistic fields

Drawing was not used only in painting, but also in sculpture and mainly in architecture. In the 19th Century, drawing within painting had a great significance in portraits. There was an evolution that had an impact on artistic compositions. High quality erotic portraits with fine and accurate drawing appeared during that period. In the 20th Century, due to the influence that Second Avant-garde had, drawing often prevailed over colour.

Apart from portraits, there was a landscape-painting movement. Before contemporary art, nature was considered as a work of art. That is why the intention to reflect its beauty emerged. Drawing emerged afterwards. Later, Art Déco favoured that drawing became contemporary art, with more schematic and geometrical compositions.

Balclis, auction house of contemporary art, recognizes the significance of preserving contemporary drawings and the importance they had during that period; that is why we show you how to buy and bid in an auction house. In Balclis, we have had works by artists who carried out a great artistic development in Spain, such as Ricard Opisso and Pablo Gargallo.

In Spain there are even exhibitions that are exclusively focused on contemporary drawing. An example of this is the “Drawing room”, an international fair with meetings of artists, collectors and gallery owners.

2018-05-02