Has the oldest artistic medium also proven to be the best form of contemporary expression? The gestures we recognize in prehistoric cave paintings aren’t so very different from the ones we can all see in Vitamin D3: Today's Best in Contemporary Drawing.
This new title, the latest in Phaidon’s vital Vitamin series of contemporary art books, is an indispensable survey of contemporary drawing, chosen by the world's leading art experts.
Many of the works reproduced in these pages have a timeless beauty and appeal. However, many also address the immediate pressures, concerns and joys of being alive in the second decade of the 21st century.
Indeed, as the writer and art history professor Anne Lovatt puts it in the book’s introduction, drawing has proven to be uniquely well suited to many of us quite recently. “During the pandemic, artists, nurses, journalists, teachers and school children began to draw. As social distancing and stay-at-home orders were put in place throughout the world, drawings appeared on pavements, in windows, on walls and on the Internet,” she writes. “Artists and teachers led online drawing sessions, while museums released colouring sheets based on works in their shuttered collections.”
Lovatt's opinion is shared by one of the artists in the book Christina Quarles, who told us recently: "Perhaps now, as we find ourselves entering the second year of a global pandemic and many of us are forced to remain isolated, we are turning to the intimate and personal qualities that can be found in drawing."
Vitamin D3 showcases 100 of the best artists working in the medium today, nominated by more than 70 international art experts. Vitamin D3’s nominators include world-famous curators such as Thelma Golden and Hans Ulrich Obrist; stars of the art press, such as Louisa Buck and Martin Herbert; and key figures within the book’s chosen medium, such as the Drawing Room’s Kate Macfarlane, and the Drawing Center’s director, Laura Hoptman.
Together they singled out contemporary artists such as Rashid Johnson, Emma Talbot and Rebecca Salter who have excelled in a number of media, including drawing; as well as rising art star Nathaniel Mary Quinn and practitioners such as Robert Crumb, who found their way into the fine art world through less conventional routes (comics, in Crumb’s case).
Even the most dedicated of gallery goers will find something new to love in Vitamin D3 Maybe it will be the drawings of the Turkish artist, Deniz Aktas, whose pictures, such as the Ruins of Hope, “speak urgently to ecological imbalance and, as with all of his works, highlights the inextricable link between progress and destruction.”
Perhaps it will be the the cutting, cartoonish social commentary from the South African illustrator Anton Kannemeyer; the beautiful, impressionistic, highly personal works from the Parisian Marie Jacotey; Edouard Baribeaud’s classically influenced ink and watercolour works; or the abstract pieces from Tom Friedman, an American artist better known for his sculpture.
Each entry features a selection of representative works, as well as succinct biographical information and insightful analysis from noted arts writers; there’s also a detailed index, contents page, and overview of the nomination panel.
Vitamin D3 is a crucial new text for anyone with a professional or personal interest in contemporary art; curators, dealers and gallerists will discover, or perhaps rediscover overlooked talents; art students and nascent as well as established artists will gain a valuable overview of this fundamental medium; and visual art enthusiasts will learn about the ravishing new world opening up within this ancient medium. To find out more and order your copy of Vitamin D3: Today's Best in Contemporary Drawing visit the Phaidon store here. In the coming weeks we'll be bringing you interviews with many of the artists in the book including Christina Quarles, Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Emma Talbot, Deanna Petherbridge and Rachel Goodyear.