Drawing and Visualisation Research



    The Artist's Hand
    Juliet MacDonald

    This article is a discussion of gestures and marks as signs of the presence of the artist in drawing. Although I write as a practitioner, I do not address my own practice directly. I start with a consideration of art historical writing. An example by Huyghe (1962) positions ‘the artist’s hand’ as a conduit for the expression of the individual’s inner essence. I briefly trace how such ideas have been subject to critique in the drawing practices of artists since the 1960s, with reference to commentators such as Rose (1976, 1992). While notions of authenticity and authorship have been challenged, and the figure of the hand has been displaced to some extent, I note that within contemporary art practice, the performance of drawing is still read as a declaration of an artist’s presence. However, rather than see the mark as the outcome of pure artistic intention, a more performative account, calling on the theories of Butler (1993), would recast the gesture of drawing as constituting an artistic subjectivity in the act itself. In drawing, a configuration of material histories and potentialities come together such that the artist appears ‘in the moment’ as the figure of the work.

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    Biographical information

    Juliet MacDonald
    University of Huddersfield
    e-mail: j.macdonald@hud.ac.uk

    Juliet MacDonald is Research Fellow in Art at the University of Huddersfield. Her PhD in drawing practice was awarded in 2010 from Leeds Metropolitan University. Recent publications include ‘Alpha: A Report to an Academy’ in the Journal of Artistic Research 5 (2014) and contributions to the exhibition Drawology at the Lanchester Gallery, also 2014. MacDonald is has recently concluded a Leverhulme-funded Artist’s Residency with the Legacies of War research project at the University of Leeds, working with the Liddle Collection archive of First World War material. Her exhibition ‘Inhalation’ was held at the Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, Leeds in 2015.

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