Ink over Paint
Edward Bulwer-Lytton once said, “The pen is mightier than the sword,” but is it as mighty as the brush? When people visit an art museum or gallery, it might be a large painting or dainty sculpture that gives a lasting impression, but most likely not a drawing. In fact, most museums and galleries do not even display a lot of drawings, if any. Are drawings less valuable and “artistic” compared to paintings?
Of course they are not, but it does seem that drawings are not as popular as paintings because they are not “perfected” and “complete.” This subject was brought up and discussed by Holland Cotter in his article, “The Pen, Mightier than the Brush.” The article mentions the Morgan Library Exhibit, “Dürer to de Kooning: 100 Master Drawings from Munich,” which displays drawings from Michelangelo, Picasso, and other artists. The small drawings are mostly shriveled and torn apart which degrades the artworks’ values. However, people tend to overlook the idea that drawings are the foundation of other types of art. Many drawings are the simple black and white first drafts of beautified and intensely hued paintings. A drawing with no supplementary embellishments resembles an innocent child whereas a painting that is ornamented with colors and texture resembles adults. These drawings reveal the thought process of artists and the changes made from one piece to another. As stated in the article, Peter Paul Ruben’s drawing, a draft of his painting of Duke of Lerma, is a good example of this. The face in the drawing was not the duke’s, but that of Emperor Charles V of Spain. Historians later assumed that Ruben replaced the face of Emperor Charles in his painting and used him as a model.
As mentioned in the article, drawings are also significant documentaries that provide information about art that does not exist anymore. A drawing by German artist Egid Quirin Asam presents a sophisticated architectural design of a chapel with extreme details and complex interior structure. Although it was said that the chapel has never been built, this drawing still allows people to visualize how the chapel would look like in reality.
Some people may argue that these drawings are not as valuable as paintings because they are not perfected and lacks the texture and finishing of paintings. Although some drawings do lack colors and texture, there is even more meaning behind these simple and original pieces. These drawings can serve as blueprints for imagination where the artists convey ideas that the observer can expand on and develop. For those who say drawings are produced with cheaper materials such as pen and paper compared to canvases and paint, is it the supplies the determines the value? If that is the case, then the purpose of viewing art is destroyed. Others say that ink and paper are easily damaged and does not last as long as paintings, but does that not make it more precious?
Drawings itself are masterpieces. They are the products of the art of originality and conceptualizing.