Taking a line

3rd March 1995 at 00:00
One of the most talked-about exhibitions in years, the South Bank's touring show Drawing the Line is not to be missed.

Three years ago, Deanna Petherbridge curated a survey show, "The Primacy of Drawing". Now the conceptual artist Michael Craig-Martin brings together 200 drawings from the breadth of the history of art where line, rather than tone, shading or chiarascuro, is paramount.

More controversial is that half the work is from the 20th century and that Ingres is juxtaposed with Agnes Martin and Leonardo with Carl Andre of "bricks" fame.

Guru professor at Goldsmiths College, Craig-Martin, has spawned a generation of neo-conceptualist students of the Damien Hurst ilk. He has also been scathing in his criticisms of the traditional life class exercises.

What has motivated his selection of drawings? Interviewed on Kaleidoscope he explained "the exhibition is an attempt to make drawing accessible, to show that the art of the 20th century is the same as the art of the past. It is anti-categorising, anti-hierarchies, letting us see things afresh."

In this lies the seduction of drawings: how can you judge a work of art to be successful? What is the place of skill? "Drawing the Line" - together with Craig-Martin's accompanying catalogue introduction - is a marvellously stimulating and provocative exhibition.

JANE NORRIE To March 5 at Southampton City Gallery, March 18-April 30 Manchester City Gallery, May 13-June 25 Ferens Art Gallery, Hull, July 7-September 10 Whitechapel Gallery, London.

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