Viktor Deni, "1st May", poster 1929, lithography print

Soviet Propaganda and Anti-Religious Campaigns

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To win in the civil war, the sprouting Soviet power had to ensure it was supported by the workers and the peasants. How could they show the illiterate population that the Bolsheviks were on their side? With a bright poster and a catchy slogan…Soviet propaganda found the soft spots of the powerless poor people, and the outstanding artists of the Russian avant garde helped attack them.” – From Bird in Flight, “The Early Days of Soviet Propaganda.”

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The Soviet Union was the first state to have as an ideological objective the elimination of religion. Toward that end, the Communist regime confiscated church property, ridiculed religion, harassed believers, and propagated atheism in the schools. Actions toward particular religions, however, were determined by State interests, and most organized religions were never outlawed.

The main target of the anti-religious campaign in the 1920s and 1930s was the Russian Orthodox Church, which had the largest number of faithful. Nearly all of its clergy, and many of its believers, were shot or sent to labor camps. Theological schools were closed, and church publications were prohibited. By 1939 only about 500 of over 50,000 churches remained open.” – From the Library of Congress, Revelations from the Russian Archives, Anti-religious Campaigns.

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Njideka Akunyili Crosby, "Nwantinti," 2012.
Acrylic, charcoal, pencil color, collage and transfers on paper. 
5.57 ft. x 8 ft. [Photograph by Marc Bernier. Image Courtesy of the artist and Victoria Miro, London]

The Drawing Center/Le Prix Canson – 2016

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Header Image: Njideka Akunyili Crosby, “Nwantinti,” 2012.
Acrylic, charcoal, pencil color, collage and transfers on paper. 
5.57 ft. x 8 ft. [Photograph by Marc Bernier. Image Courtesy of the artist and Victoria Miro, London]

“The way I mix painting with drawing, printmaking, photography, and collage in my work underscores the theme of transculturation in my life.” - Njideka Akunyili Crosby

Njideka Akunyili Crosby, “Cassava Garden,” 2015. Acrylic, transfers, colored pencils, charcoal and commemorative fabric on paper. 6 ft. x 5 ft. [Photograph by Robert Glowacki. Image Courtesy of the artist and Victoria Miro, London.]

Since 2010, paper company Canson founded Le Fonds Canson pour l’Art et le Papier to support drawing and works on paper via their prestigious Prix CansonAbout the Prix CansonCreated in 2010 by the Fonds Canson pour l’Art et le Papier, the Prix Canson honours the exceptional work of an artist under the age of 50, whose creations show a true love of paper. The prize is awarded by a jury composed of international key figures from the art world, artists, curators and directors of leading institutions dedicated to contemporary art around the world. The Prix Canson awards the prize-winner by elevating the visibility of their artwork internationally as each winner sees their work showcased in at least one major contemporary art fair or museum, consequently benefitting from accrued media exposure. In addition, the winner receives an important endowment in kind from Canson paper worth €10,000. And finally, the Fonds Canson also acquires an art piece of the winner for their collection. Since it has been founded, the prize has been awarded to artists Fabien Merelle (2010), Ronald Cornelissen (2011), Virginia Chihota (2013), Simon Evans (2014) and Adrián Villar Rojas (2015). The Fonds Canson pour l’Art et le Papier aims to make the Prix Canson an increasingly international prize. award. The prize, which includes a solo exhibit and €10,000 worth of Canson paper, recognizes exceptional work of artists under 50 whose creations “show a true love of paper.”

In its 2016 edition, the Prix Canson partnered with The Drawing Center in New York to honor the winner, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, as well as the finalists with an exhibition from June 22 – July 1. Prix Canson Exhibitions have usually been held in major art institutions in Paris and Barcelona, but the collaboration with the The Drawing CenterHistoryThe Drawing Center, a museum in Manhattan"s SoHo district, was founded in 1977 by Martha Beck, the former assistant curator of drawings at the Museum of Modern Art. The center explores the medium of drawing as primary, dynamic, and relevant to contemporary culture, the future of art, and creative thought. Its activities, which are both multidisciplinary and broadly historical, include exhibitions, Open Sessions, a curated artist program encouraging community and collaboration, the Drawing Papers publication series, and education and public programs. Location, Hours & Accessibility 35 Wooster Street between Broome and Grand Streets in SoHo, New York. was inspired by a “shared passion for drawing and by their ambition to promote art to wide and diverse audiences.” To support the exhibition at The Drawing Center, Canson hosted a series of talks, presentations, and events with the finalists for the public and press.

Modern, post-Papyrus, paper-making using fibers is usually attributed to China in 105 B.C.E. (though a map on paper was found even earlier at Fangmatan in Gansu province, 179-41 B.C.E.). Le Fonds Canson has been a part been part of that long history for the past 450 yearsAbout Fonds CansonCanson was established in 1557 in Annonay (France) by the Montgolfier family. Canson, heir of nearly half a millennium of expertise, has managed to perpetuate a tradition of master papermakers, passing down the recipe for high-quality paper from generation to generation. Throughout the course of the centuries, the greatest artists and creators have used Canson paper: Ingres, Delacroix, Van Gogh, Degas, Matisse, Picasso, Dalí, Miró, Warhol. From the start, the founding family Montgolfier’s motto was ‘Ite per orbem’ (Go out into the world), already illustrating the company’s open international spirit. In 1926, Canson and Montgolfier incorporated and inaugurated their fisrt New York branch. Today, Canson paper is sold in nearly 150 countries all over the world, and the company is the world leader in art paper. Canson has always believed in a ‘higher’ purpose than simply making quality paper and so it pledges to sponsor modern art and to celebrate contemporary artists.. Since 1557, Canson paper has been used by renowned artists such as Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1780-1867), Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Marc Chagall (1887-1985), Fernand Leger (1881-1955), Aristide Maillol (1861-1944), Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863), Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890), Edgar Degas (1834-1917), Henri Matisse (1869-1964), Salvador Dalí (1904-1989), Joan Miró (1893-1983), Andy Warhol (1928-1987), and now by a new generation of artists including the 2016 prize winner, Njideka Akunyili CrosbyBiographyNjideka Akunyili Crosby was born in 1983 in Enugu, Nigeria and currently lives and works in Los Angeles. Informed by art historical and literary sources, Njideka Akunyili Crosbys complex, multi-layered works reflect contemporary transcultural identity. Combining drawing, painting and collage on paper, Akunyili Crosbys large-scale figurative compositions are drawn from the artist’s memories and experiences. She uses the visual language and inherited traditions of classical academic western painting, particularly the portrait and still life. Akunyili Crosby’s characters and scenes, however, occupy the liminal, in-between zone that post-colonial theorist Homi K. Bhabha refers to as ‘the third space’, a point of overlap, conflation and mixing of cultural influences specific to diaspora communities. She is the 2015 recipient of the Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize from the Studio Museum in Harlem. She received her MFA from Yale University of Art and her BA from the Studio Museum in Harlem. She received her MFA from Yale University of Art and her BA (Honors) from Swarthmore College., as well as the finalists, ruby onyinyechi amanzeBiographyBorn in Nigeria in 1982, ruby amanze onyinyechi lives and works in New York. ruby onyinyechi amanze is a visual artist whose practice is primarily centered around drawing and works on paper. Her large scale drawings are part of an ongoing, non-linear narrative called aliens, hybrids and ghosts and explore space, play, and cultural hybridity. Existing somewhere between constructed reality, fantasy, memory and imagination, these pencil-and-ink drawings on paper embellished with glitter and fluorescent pen invent a space where ethnic and cultural borders seemed to be abolished. "This isn"t social science, it"s magic-realism and the power of drawing to invent worlds for ourselves. I"m a story-teller, not an advocate," she says. amanze immediately relocated to the U.K, prior to moving to the U.S. In 2012-2013, she was the recipient of a Fulbright Scholars Award in Drawing to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. She currently resides in New York where she is an Artist-in-Residence at the Queens Museum and in The Drawing Center’s Open Sessions Program., Bethany CollinsBiographyBorn in 1984 in the United States Bethany Collins works in New York, Atlanta and Chicago. Bethany Collins is a multidisciplinary artist who takes the material of the classroom––paper, Pink Pearl erasers, graphite, old dictionaries and, more broadly, language itself––to create spare, poetically charged works on paper, objects and wall-based installations. Her work is fueled by a critical exploration of how race and language interact. Collins transfers and obscures dictionary definitions, government reports and historical publications to create restrained statements that ring with emotive power. She is exhibited at the Birmingham Museum of Art this year. She is represented by Richard Gray Gallery, New York, David ShrigleyBiographyBorn in 1968 David Shrigley lives and works in Brighton, United Kingdom. David Shrigley is best known for his distinctive drawing style and works that make satirical comments on everyday situations and human interactions. His quick-witted drawings and hand-rendered texts are typically deadpan in their humour and reveal chance utterings like snippets of over-heard conversations. Reoccurring themes and thoughts pervade his story telling capturing child-like views of the world, the perspective of aliens and monsters or the compulsive habits of an eavesdropper shouting out loud. In 2013, Shrigley was shortlisted for the Turner Prize. Among his recent solo shows: Lose Your Mind, British Council in Guadalajara, Mexico (2016), Drawings and Paintings, Stephen Friedman, London (2016) and soon, Rose Art Museum, Massachussets., and Lucy SkaerBiographyBorn in 1975 in Cambridge, United Kingdom Lucy Skaer lives and works in Glasgow. Throughout her practice, in sculpture, print, drawing, and film, Lucy Skaer mines the conceptual possibilities of each in order to examine the shifts between dimensions, to explore the gap between object and image, and to represent the gradations between these mediums. The artist includes in her artworks an intimate language made of geometric and fundamental figures. Beyond a visible diversity, these pieces of art explore the mechanisms from where we give a meaning to the objects we believe we know: blew up press images reproducing well-known paintings, reworked old movies extracts through abstraction; rebuilt disseminated fragments... These large scales works on paper often participate in her installation’s scenography. In 2009, Skaer was shortlisted for the Turner Prize, and in 2007, she represented Scotland at the 52nd Venice Biennale. She is represented by Murray Guy Gallery (New York).

This year’s jury consisted of international museum curators including Ian AlteveerBiographyIan Alteveer is Associate Curator in the Met’s Department of Modern and Contemporary Art (The Metropolitan Museum of Art), where he organized the past three Roof Garden Commissions. Also at the Met he installed William Kentridge: The Refusal of Time (2013–14) and Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years (2012). He worked on the Met’s presentations of Ellsworth Kelly (2012), Richard Serra (2011), John Baldessari (2010), Francis Bacon (2009), and Jasper Johns (2008) and is currently co-organizing a Kerry James Marshall retrospective. Prior to joining the Met, Ian was graduate curatorial fellow and curatorial assistant at New York University’s Grey Art Gallery., Associate Curator, Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA; Bice CurigerBiographyBice Curiger is an Art Historian and Artistic Director of the Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles. She is also editor and co-founder of Parkett, published in Zurich and New York, and has been a curator at Kunsthaus Zurich for twenty years. In 2011 she was the director of the 53rd Venice Biennale. She is the author of many books, catalogues, and articles on Meret Oppenheim, Sigmar Polke, Katharina Fritsch, Maurizio Cattelan, Rebecca Warren, among others., Artistic Director of the Fondation Vincent van Gogh, Arles, France and Editor in Chief of Parkett, Zurich, Switzerland; Amanda HuntBiographyAmanda Hunt is Assistant Curator at The Studio Museum in Harlem where she manages the 2015-16 Artist in Residence program, and has curated many artists shows. Hunt curated Portland2014 - A Biennial of Contemporary Art in Portland, Oregon, and was a curator at LA-ART from 2011-2014. Hunt has worked at various galleries and institutions including Whitechapel Gallery, London, Friedrich Petzel Gallery, New York, the Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Hunt helped to produce two major initiatives in Los Angeles, including the Pacific Standard Time Performance and Public Art Festival, and Made in LA 2012., assistant curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem; Helen MolesworthBiographyHelen Molesworth is the Chief Curator at MOCA (The Museum of Contemporary Art), Los Angeles. From 2010-2014 she was the Barbara Lee Chief Curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) Boston, where she assembled exhibitions of artists Steve Locke, Catherine Opie, Josiah McElheny, and Amy Sillman. She was also the head of the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Harvard Art Museum. From 2002 to 2007, she was the Chief Curator of Exhibitions at the Wexner Center for the Arts, and Curator of Contemporary Art at The Baltimore Museum of Art from 2000-2002. She is the author of numerous catalogue essays., Chief Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles, USA; Frédéric PaulBiographyFrédéric Paul is an art critic and an art historian. He managed the FRAC du Limousin from 1988 to 2000 and the Domaine de Kerguéhennec from 2000 to 2010. He has been Curator at MNAM/ Centre Georges Pompidou since 2015. He has organized hundreds of exhibitions, with the collaboration of many artists, such as Douglas Huebler, Allen Ruppersberg, William Wegman, Jonathan Monk, Claude Closky, Giuseppe Gabellone, and Beatriz Milhazes. He recently published the following Guy de Cointet (Flammarion, 2013), Giuseppe Penone, archéologie (Actes Sud, 2014), Sarah Morris, CAPITAL letters read better for Initials (August Vergag, 2015)., Curator at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; Katherine StoutBiographyKatharine Stout has been Head of Programme at the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts) since 2013. She was Curator of Contemporary Art at Tate Britain from 1999 to 2013. In 2001, she co- founded the Drawing Room, the major European non-profit organization for contemporary drawing. She also was the contemporary art consultant at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich where she inaugurated the contemporary art program. She has written numerous texts on contemporary British and international art. Her book, Contemporary Drawing: 1960s to Now was published by Tate in Autumn 2014., Curator, Head of program at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), London, UK; Michael WoolworthBiographyMichaël Woolworth is a publisher and an American Art Printer. He founded his company in Paris in 1985, focused on the realization of original and limited editions with contemporary artists such as Steve Locke, Catherine Opie, Josiah McElheny, and Amy Sillman. His space, located on Place de la Bastille, is a printing house, a gallery (exhibitions on contemporary artworks), as well as a venue for meetings, lectures, projections, and concerts., Editor and Print Master, Paris, France; and Brett LittmanBiographyBrett Littman has been the Executive Director of The Drawing Center since 2007. Previously he was the Deputy Director of MOMA PS1, Co-Director of Dieu Donné, and Associate Director of UrbanGlass. He has contributed news and commentary to a wide range of international publications and critical essays to many exhibition catalogues. As a curator, Littman has organized exhibitions for The Drawing Center and other non-profits and galleries worldwide..

In addition, before his passing, the late artist TungaBiography President of the Jury. Tunga is one of the leading Brazilian artists of his generation. He expresses himself through sculpture, installation, performance, and drawing. The mineral world as well as body affects are his work’s great influences. Tunga is based in Rio de Janeiro and his work can be seen in permanent collections of major museums and institutions throughout the world. In 2014, he presented the series of sculptures and drawings entitled From La Voie Humide, exhibited in galleries from New York, Sao Paulo, London, Torino, and recently at Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire, for the 2015 Festival of Arts & Nature., who was the President of the Jury of the Prix Canson for the last two years, established a residency program at his home in Brazil, which will accommodate the winner of this year’s Prix.

2016 Prix Canson Finalists
{ Images with an * in the caption indicates that the work exhibited at The Drawing Center. }

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Njideka Akunyili Crosby – Prize Recipient

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Ruby Onyinyechi Amanze

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David Shrigley

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Bethany Collins

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Lucy Skaer

Scenes from the Awards Ceremony, July 21, 2016.

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Previous winners of the Prix Canson have been: Fabien Mérelle (2010), Ronald Cornelissen (2011), Virginia Chihota (2013), and Simon Evans (2014).

Thanks & Copyright Information

Thank you to The Drawing Center – Molly Gross, Amber Moyles & Clair Gilman, Fonds Canson/Prix Canson, Kathy Stephenson at Victoria Miro, and Kristy Cole with Nadine Johnson & Associates Inc. All rights reserved. Images courtesy of Victoria Miro, Le Prix Canson®, Le Fonds Canson®, The Drawing Center, and the respective artists and their galleries and representatives. Exhibition photos © Hal Horowitz and courtesy of the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London; BQ, Berlin; Galleri Nicolai Wallner, Copenhagen and Anton Kern Gallery, New York. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means except via sharing from this site.

32 Symbols found in Ancient Caves from Europe

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“I often find myself wondering what drove these people to go so deep to brave dangerous and narrow passageways to leave their mark?”

Engraved figures from Grotta dell’Addaura in Sicily, from TEDx Conference with Genevieve von Petzinger (2015)

“Geometric signs have long been considered as important, and no cave art researcher has neglected them, at least since Leroi-Gourhan’s seminal work in the mid-1960’s. What is new and exciting in Genevieve von Petzinger’s research is, thanks to the possibilities of the computer, she has completed a data base of the geometric signs from 146 painted caves, attempting to analyse their relationships to one another.” (Bradshaw Foundation)

“The repetition of the same signs, for so long, and at so many sites tells us that the artists were making intentional choices. If we’re talking about geometric shapes, with specific, culturally recognized, agreed-upon meanings, than we could very well be looking at one of the oldest systems of graphic communication in the world. (…)

The oldest systems of graphic communication in the world — Sumerian cuneiform, Egyptian hieroglyphs, the earliest Chinese script, all emerged between 4,000 and 5,000 years ago, with each coming into existence from an earlier protosystem made up of counting marks and pictographic representations, where the meaning and the image were the same. So a picture of a bird would really have represented that animal. It’s only later that we start to see these pictographs become more stylized, until they almost become unrecognizable and that we also start to see more symbols being invented to represent all those other missing words in language — things like pronouns, adverbs, adjectives.” (Genevieve von Petzinger)

Evolution of pictographic representations, from TEDx Conference with Genevieve von Petzinger (2015)
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The images on this page are not authored by Lines & Marks. They are shared under “fair use” for non-profit, educational and reference purposes, and may be subject to copyright. If for any reason this status is contested, notify us and we will remove the image(s) immediately. All other, © Lines & Marks, 2015.

Ernst Haeckel, Specimen of radiolaria (a type of marine Protozoa)

Ernst Haeckel

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Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919) was a German scientist and artist who discovered thousands of new species, described and named life forms, invented biology terms and wrote numerous scientific studies during his lifetime. He is best known for his beautiful illustrations ranging from micro-organisms to human genealogical trees. In the 1850s, just after cell theory had been formulated, he was one of many students excited to make discoveries in a field that wasn’t yet fully developed, though he soon became dissatisfied with what felt like an unfulfilling scientific practice. In the late 1870s, however, while looking through a microscope at grains of sand, Haeckel began to sketch the mineral-shell specimens called radiolarians. It was through these drawings that his passion for science was reignited and he set out to map every type of marine life, seeing radiolarians as a “key to the creative power of nature.” 

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Ernst Haeckel, Various species of Siphonophoral (in the same class as hydras).
Ernst Haeckel, Specimen of red algae (Rhodophyceae).

Haecklel’s meticulous drawings gave a visual power to Darwin’s theory, helping him defend and spread his work. In 1868, his illustrated findings became a bestselling book entitled Natürliche Schöpfungsgeschichte.  It was translated to English in 1876 as The History of Creation. But years of struggle also haunted Haeckel – he was subjected to harsh criticism by his scientific colleges of the time as he tried to integrate artistic and scientific practices. Even so, his scientific and artistic output was so extensive and prolific that even Darwin credited him in The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, saying that if Natürliche Schöpfungsgeschichte “had appeared before my essay had been written, I should probably never have completed it.” (wiki)

“Proteus: A Nineteenth Century Vision, by Director David Lebrun, 2004”
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The images on this page are not authored by Lines & Marks. They are shared under “fair use” for non-profit, educational and reference purposes, and may be subject to copyright. If for any reason this status is contested, notify us and we will remove the image(s) immediately. All other, © Lines & Marks, 2015.

James Gillray, "The Plumb Pudding in Danger."

The Secret of Drawing | Ep.2, Storylines

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This four part BBC series, presented by Andrew Graham-Dixon, explores how drawing has shaped our lives.

Season 1 | Episode 2
Aired date: 

Episode 2 – Storylines
Andrew Graham-Dixon examines the variety of ways in which drawing has been used throughout the centuries to tell narrative stories, many of them dark or satirical, from animation to Japanese manga books. Political cartoonist Martin Rowson explains how his savage commentaries on contemporary politicians are influenced by 19th century masters Hogarth and Gillray, and in a rare interview the American comic strip artist Daniel Clowes talks about what inspired his celebrated graphic novel Ghost World. Also covered is Manga artist Misako Rocks!, Hollywood storyboard artist, J. Todd Anderson, early animator, Winsor McCay and French animator Sylvain Chomet.

The Secret of Drawing Series is the property of the BBC and is subject to copyright. Header video is the work of SI Scott.

“Cave of Forgotten Dreams” | Werner Herzog

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“Maybe they in the future will find other caves with even older paintings and evidence of human and artistic work. But this is the first evidence of the modern human soul.”

Chauvet Cave, from “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” by Werner Herzog (2010)
Official Trailer for Werner Herzog’s “Cave of Forgotten Dreams.” (2010)
Introduction to the Cave Art Paintings of the Chauvet Cave from the Bradshaw Foundation. Learn more about the Bradshaw Foundation’s work in Chauvet Cave.
3D Map of Chauvet Cave, from “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” by Werner Herzog (2010)

“Cave of Forgotten Dreams” was inspired by “First Impressions,” an article written by Judith Thurman for The New Yorker and published in 2008. But she, like the many filmmakers who had also petitioned the French government since Chauvet was discovered in 1994, never got permission to enter the cave and was forced to work from drawings and videos at the site.

Mr. Herzog succeeded where others failed, said Erik Nelson, the film’s producer, by becoming a temporary employee of the French government (for the symbolic payment of 1 euro) and giving France’s Ministry of Culture copies of the raw footage for noncommercial purposes. “I was kind of astounded that Werner got in,” Ms. Thurman said. “Getting permission to film in there was in itself a great feat of cultural diplomacy.” (read the full article, Prehistoric Cave With a Hornet on the Wall by Larry Rohter, on the New York Times)

Copyright Information

The images on this page are not authored by Lines & Marks. They are shared under “fair use” for non-profit, educational and reference purposes, and may be subject to copyright. If for any reason this status is contested, notify us and we will remove the image(s) immediately. All other, © Lines & Marks, 2015.

Leonardo da Vinci, Anatomical study of a human skull.

The Secret of Drawing | Ep.1, The Line of Enquiry

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This four part BBC series, presented by Andrew Graham-Dixon, explores how drawing has shaped our lives. Ep. 1 looks at artists who have chosen the natural world as their subject matter and explores how drawing has helped man to understand his place in the universe. The programme covers the Renaissance, the Eastern way, Turner, Constable and contemporary artists Anthony Gormley and Richard Long.

The Line of Enquiry
Season 1 | Episode 1
Aired date: 

Andrew Graham-Dixon takes a look at the many ways in which drawing has connected us with the natural world and also how it has helped advance scientific enquiry, from the Italian Renaissance right through to today. In this first edition, he meets a surgeon whose study of Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings of the heart has led him to develop a radical new form of cardiac operation, uncovers a remarkable 200 year-old series of drawings of the moon, and encounters some of the actual preserved birds drawn by the great American ornithologist John James Audubon.

The Secret of Drawing Series is the property of the BBC and is subject to copyright. Header video is the work of SI Scott.

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