Research point 2.1 – Part 1 Research on artists



Tracey Emin. If I could just go back and start again. 1995. Pencil or ink on paper. Size unknown.


Tracey Emin. I dream of kissing you over again. 2013. Pencil or ink on paper. Size unknown.

Tracey uses a variety of media to do her sketches including pencil, paints and ink and often the work appears to be totally spontaneous as it is punctuated or annotated with text  which in turn draws the viewer to understand the meaning of the piece – it is a rough almost naive style without levels of shading or cross hatching.  Tracey’s style is very much of a confessional nature that is expressing her memories and feelings – she wants to get across the viewer her emotional response to her subject matter and hence she does not spend hours doing a detailed drawing or sketch but rather works quickly and roughly.  This particular drawing is one that shows Tracey’s art training as it is anatomically correct which Tracey herself admits is a rarity as she states she prefers to work from her imagination or her dreams.  There is no doubt that despite the naive impression of her style Tracey is in fact a highly skilled draftswoman and this is apparent in her paintings and mono prints such as this one titled ‘I dream of kissing you over again’.

The size of her work is hard to gauge because all the sketches I have come across have not got any measurements and from the spontaneous appearance it would be reasonable to suggest that they could simply be done on anything from the back of an envelope to a sketchpad to even a wall or any large scrap of paper that is lying around at the time.  I am interested in the aforesaid use of text – it is not merely a reference or a title but part of Tracey’s sketches and part of the art process as she seeks to externalize internalized emotions.


“My line is childlike but not childish.  It is very difficult to fake … to get that quality you need to project yourself into the child’s line. It has to be felt.” (Cy Twombly).  This first quote I discovered on the website for The Art Story Foundation and sums up the work of the the artist in his own words – this is artist who is one of the successors to the Abstract Expressionist movement and ranked alongside Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns who were his contemporaries and in effect his colleagues.


Cy Twombly. Reflection. 1965. Pencil and coloured crayon on paper. 91.4 x 67.3 cm. Andre Viana Gallery

Cy Twombly’s sketches or paintings were a mixture of media from the simple graphite pencil to a use of crayons and paints but all were highly gestural as he sort to create works that were highly expressive and emotional through the use of the chosen media and choice of tool – I have not found direct information on the exact tools but mechanical or graphite pencils, variety of brushes or palette knives are certainly indicated in his art.  The pieces this group of artists including Cy were often very large in size and this seemingly small piece of work, titled ‘Reflection’ is in fact nearly a metre in height.

> Cy Twombly: Cycles and Seasons > 19th June - 14th September 2008 > Tate Modern > > > <> > > > Cy Twombly > Hero and Leandro, Part I > 167.6 x 200.5 cm > > Hero and Leandro (A Painting in Four Parts), 1984 > Media and dimensions variable, Daros Collection > > > Terms of Loan > The attached images are on loan to you, and are accepted by you under > the following terms and conditions: > That the reproductions are accompanied by the name of the artist, the > title and date of work, the owner credit line, the copyright holder > and photocredit; > That the reproductions are not cropped, overprinted, tinted or subject > to any form of derogatory treatment without the prior approval of the > copyright owner; > That the images are only reproduced to illustrate an article or > feature reviewing or reporting on Cy Twombly: Cycles and Seasons > (section 30(i) and (ii) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act > 1988); > That any reproductions that accompany an article are not used for > marketing or advertising purposes; that transparencies are returned to > the Tate Press Office immediately after use > No more than five images are reproduced to accompany any online > article or online review and images are sized at a maximum of 72 dpi. > Front Covers > The use of images for front covers may attract a fee and will require > the prior authorisation of the owner and copyright holder of the work. > Please contact Tate Press Office for such use. > Please also contact Tate Press Office if you have any queries about > the orientation of images > Call 020 7887 8730/32 Fax 020 7887 8729 > email: >

Cy Twombly. Hero and Leandro (A Painting in Four Parts) Part I (1984). Oil on canvas. Size unknown.

On a personal level I am particularly intrigued  by this painting which is described in an obituary in The Economist to the artist as a ‘great Hokusai wave’ which is a reference to the The Great Wave by Katsushika Hokusai … my interest is due to having been influenced by this particular piece for Exercise 1.4 and having done a subsequent blog on Hokusai.  This piece is part of triptych and is intended to be a puzzle for the viewer to work out and solve – a direct influence on some of Cy Twombly’s work was his former profession as an army cryptographer.

The subject matter for Cy Twombly was varied from the classical myths to spring flowers to landscapes and also included text on some of his paintings – this text draws the viewer to question the meaning behind the words and the art.  There is a considerable amount of art that seems vulgar or about an exploration of fetish desires or primitive rituals which appear to have been influenced by his extensive travels throughout Europe. It seems that this artist is someone who varied his location for his work and included sketching without light during his time in the army to working in studios in a variety of locations.

Of note is the fact Cy Twombly also used the written word in his works both in terms of using the actual poems or prose as part of his abstract works and also the actual process of writing in which he was able to create compositions based on line – both methods were able to give a narrative to lie beneath his painted works.



Jenny Saville. Study for Pentimenti I. 2011. Pencil and oil paint on canvas. Size unknown. Gagosian Gallery

For me personally this is an artist whose work I would consider ‘an acquired taste’ as I am yet to work out whether I like her style or not – my first impressions are of someone who is exploring identity and labels as she explores the human body in all its physicality of form.

jenny saville

Jenny Saville. The Mothers. 2011. Oil on canvas. 270 x 220 cm. Gagosian Gallery

Jenny primarily uses oil painting which she seeks to re-invent and use in new ways in the same manner she appears to re-invent and re-work sketches to create new works – the three I have chosen appear to be worked from the same initial idea and this constant re-invention is part of her artistic process.


Jenny Saville. Study for Isis and Horus. 2011. Oil on canvas. Size unknown. Gagosian Gallery.

There is clear use of pentimento which are the traces and alterations of sketches which have had layers of paint overlaid and instead of these gestural and expressive marks being considered errors that need correction she has used them as part of the actual piece of work.  This overlaying of sketches create a sense of movement to an otherwise static pose.

It is clear that Jenny uses a combination of drawing tools including pens, pencils, brushes and palette knives which she has used in differing ways including what appears to be sgraffito as she scratches away layers of paint to show previously made marks.    Some of Jenny’s work appears to have been done perhaps at speed as she seeks to get the essence of the figure or figures down on paper as can be seen in Image 5 – this appears to be part of a series connected with Images 6 and 7.

From a personal interest point of view I note there is evidence of the influence of artists such as Sir Peter Paul Rubens or Caravaggio.   Jenny herself states that she is interested in the dirtier side of life and seems to have intentionally portrayed an ugliness in the figures which is in part due to the viewpoints from she paints as she appears to seek to explore identity and how society views an overweight woman with mounds of flesh as unattractive.


In contrast to the previous artists Elise Engler almost seems an enigma as she is an artist who seeks to draw objects of every day life in an ordered and documented style as she seeks to give the spectator a view into inaccessible places whether it is the contents of women’s pocket books to life in different locations.

elise engler

Elise Engler. National Science Foundation Antarctic Artists and Writers Program. Credit & copyright: Jim Whitaker

Her sketches and drawings  are done primarily with the use of coloured pencils and multiple objects are sketched on one singular page and with each being the same size as the next – all objects are of the same weight as can be seen in this photograph of her work done in Antarctica which sought to give the spectator an insight into life in this remote and far off location.

The sketches are detailed despite their size but not to the extent that they could be classed as realism and as said the primary media is coloured pencils which are often water-soluble.  Elise also works in oils on canvas and gouache paint and some of her documentary style work is done as concertina style books rather than just multiple objects on a page with the majority of her work being done on location and about a particular place.


This artist is someone who is able to take seemingly simple objects to create subjects that are not so simple as he has an ability to transform a shoe or book or chair into a conceptual art work with the use of an exploration of line and colour.


Michael Craig-Martin. Manhattan. 1991. Hand applied black and red crepe tape on drafting film. Sheet 61 x 91.5 cm

Much of this artist’s work centres on a use of colour which is built up in layers of paint which he applies with 4-inch rollers with the initial drawing done with the use of tape which can be in turn removed for a different layer …. essentially the tape creates a stencil which can be changed as the layers build up to create a rich depth of colour in the final piece.  The art works are done in the studio with the help of an assistant with as many as 30 – 40 layers done on each large scale piece.

As can be seen in this art work different objects may be grouped together with the sizes irrelevant – in reality the objects are completely different sizes in relation to one another but this fact has been ignored and the objects themselves exploited so that the spectator questions the relationship between each.


Michael Craig-Martin. Untitled (book, chair). 1992. Hand applied black and red crepe tape on drafting film. Sheet 44 x 68.1 cm

Both of my chosen images show how the artist has used black and red crepe tape on drafting film to create the art instead of pencil or pen on paper – I particularly like the almost architectural feel of the work of the artist and how with conceptual art the idea behind it is more important than the actual finished piece although I personally feel the finished piece is an important part of the overall process and also vital to the understanding of the idea.




Claude Heath is termed a ‘representational draughtsman’ (Lubbock, 2002) with his loose almost doodle-like drawings of a variety of subjects including fruit, flowers or heads and hands.

Claude Heath. Mexican Orange Blossom (Choisya ternata). 2001. Acrylic ink on paper. Two sheets – each 76 x 56 cm.

This is an artist whose processes have included drawing with a blindfold on – he literally feels the object before drawing still wearing the blindfold and this technique has since been followed by removing the paper from his sight and keeping his eyes on the subject or object.  Claude primarily appears to use acrylic ink on either paper, triacetate or film sheets to investigate the process of drawing and how we interpret it whether it is in several different colours or one singular colour.

The work of this artist portrays no light or shade and unlike the objects no distinguishable solid edge although there is still a sense of the sides of the object and a feeling of depth – the lines are not just an abundance of squiggles but are reminiscent of something tangible even if the spectator cannot identify the exact subject.  Regarding size the sketches are not as small as perhaps I would expect as the images I have chosen are up to 84.5 cm in width and this will have allowed for the expressive use of lines worked without sight and a translation of what the artist sees or physically feels to the paper.

Claude Heath. Four Fold Drawing/Four plants studio shot. 2001. Acrylic ink on paper, mounted on board. Two panels – each 84.5 x 29.5 cm

A further development of his technique apparently involves using both hands to draw plants on separate sheets of paper thereby creating his drawings from two differing angles at the same time and then displayed at right angles to each other.

Claude Heath’s use of acrylic ink means I question the implement involved but I can only presume it is a fountain pen of some type or actual acrylic ink pens which are commonly available and some of his works are translated into paintings.


Fred Sandback. Untitled. 1977-2008. Coloured arylic yarn

This artist is someone who created his incredibly minimalist ‘sculptures’ and installations using brightly coloured acrylic yarns to describe or give the illusion of volume and space.

The image I have chosen to use illustrates how Fred Sandback suspended his yarns and tightly stretched them within the space and I feel also shows how despite the lack of actual solid form the yarns give the illusion of volume –  his body of work explores extensively how he played with actual fact and what the spectator perceives which is further enhanced with the use of mirrors suspended to reflect the installations to create further illusions.

Fred Sandback. Untitled (Sculptural Study, Six Part Construction). 1977-2008. Black acrylic yarn

Regarding size and materials this artist created his installations to fit the space required in a variety of scales which depended on what he wanted to depict and his simple use of yarns were all purchased in shops – there are simply no other materials involved other than how he fixed the ends of the yarns to the ceilings, floors or walls.




Jan Dibbets

Jan Dibbets is not someone who draws or sketches but someone who uses photography to flatten pictorial space and to challenge the more traditional way of exhibiting his images although he is artistically trained.

Much of this artists work consists of splicing and joining series of photographs together to create images that challenge the pictorial plane and the actual photograph with his inspiration coming from the traditional Dutch landscape drawings.

Jan Dibbets

It is interesting to take note of the way that this artist photographer uses his camera to depict the landscape in unusual ways challenging our perceptions and how we think we should be viewing the image.  Jan’s method of ‘drawing’ uses the photographer as his tool and primary part of his process which is followed by the aforesaid splicing as he joins multiple images to create new abstract works.

I am intrigued by his use of perspective which is created in the new images and how he plays with the illusions he creates – the photograph he takes of an object or landscape is manipulated in such a way that it becomes something different and almost a lie … Jan Dibbets himself describes photographs as lies because they do not actually represent anything and despite them being images of actual subjects they are not real and therefore they are abstract.

At the start of this research I had originally typed the following on Tracy Emin:

“Tracey is an artist who draws from her imagination, dreams and memories as a way of exploring her personal experiences and her personal identity and what they both mean to her.  She is a controversial artist with much of her subject matter and my original feeling, which I now almost ashamed to confess, was she was someone just aiming to shock and couldn’t really draw but that was before I started studying for this degree and before my art history studies – I now have the experience and knowledge to understand that life influences artists whether it is social, economic or political and those influences can be deeply personal to the artist.  Further an artist who seems poorly trained can in fact be someone who is highly skilled with years of training behind them but has developed a very personal voice and if a piece of art forces people to stop, look and talk about it then this brings me back to a question from my art history studies … what makes a piece of art actually worthy of being called art?  Tracey’s work is art as it is a form of expressionism albeit in a 21st century format. ”

I decided to delete it from my original review primarily due to an excessive word count but have now decided that the way I viewed Tracey’s work is also relevant to my first impressions of some of the other artists – Cy Twombly or Claude Heath as examples.  Before studying their works and reading their biographies I did not understand their techniques and processes or influences and 2 years ago I would have dismissed the work of these artists without realising the years of training or the skills involved and I would have questioned how a piece of art can be called it if it seems to consist just of a series of lines or colours but now I understand the concepts and the emotions and that has enabled me to not just appreciate the art works but to discover new artists whose work in time may influence my own.


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