28. Drawing and the Graphic Arts

Films about drawing and the graphic arts make up a major part of the Roland Collection. For many painters and sculptors, drawing is the fundamental discipline behind their art. For other artists, drawing or print-making may be their major or even their only activity.

While drawing frequently allows the viewer greater access to the artist's thinking and working processes than a highly finished painting or sculpture, film is an equally searching, analytical medium in which to follow those creative processes. In several of the films in this section (for example, those on Degas, Delacroix and Herman) we see a drawing 'assembled' in a way analogous to that in which the artist constructed it. Elsewhere the camera travels across the surface, or penetrates into the drawing's illusionistic depth, to reveal the means by which the illusion is effected. The 'story-board' of Rembrandt's biblical drawings comes alive on the screen. Steinlen's or Daumier's brilliant 'reportage' of social life becomes moving footage. Again and again, the strengths of the artists in this section are brought out by the force and coherence their drawings retain, even when projected on to the big screen or relayed through the television screen on which the modern audience is used to seeing the latest and most sophisticated visual excitements. The force of graphic art, we are reminded, often lies in its economy of means, its monochromatic tonality, its honesty, its mystery.