Drawing... closest to pure thought / by Jeannine Cook

Back to life drawing - oh bliss! And oh!! It is always such a humbling exercise, whilst at the same time, utter absorption and entrancement. It put me in mind of a quote I found from John Elderfield. the former eminent Curator at MOMA, who said, "Drawing, within the visual arts, seems to hold the position of being closest to pure thought". It is the medium that shows one up as an artist - there is nothing to hide behind, and it is thus always risky, just like thoughts that are unpremeditated.

Even finished drawings, in the pure sense of a drawing standing as a completed work of art and not something that is a step towards a painting, are very revealing. Take an artist like Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, or Il Guercino, one of the leading Baroque artists who lived from 1591 to 1666. Known for his speed of work, together with great discipline and constant practice, he left a wonderful collection of drawings as well as many famous paintings. This is somewhat ironic, in a way, for he was known as Il Guercino because he squinted. But it did not impede him from drawing magnificently. I see that a selection are on view now at the Kunstmuseum in Bern, Switzerland, which is a treat for anyone to see as drawings such as these travel rather rarely.

Il Guercino's drawings fall perfectly into this category of drawings as pure thought... And very successful thoughts!