The Artist's Hand

Juliet MacDonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article is a discussion of gestures and marks as signs of the presence of the artist in drawing. Although I write as a practitioner, I do not address my own practice directly. I start with a consideration of art historical writing. An example by Huyghe (1962) positions ‘the artist’s hand’ as a conduit for the expression of the individual’s inner essence. I briefly trace how such ideas have been subject to critique in the drawing practices of artists since the 1960s, with reference to commentators such as Rose (1976, 1992). While notions of authenticity and authorship have been challenged, and the figure of the hand has been displaced to some extent, I note that within contemporary art practice, the performance of drawing is still read as a declaration of an artist’s presence. However, rather than see the mark as the outcome of pure artistic intention, a more performative account, calling on the theories of Butler (1993), would recast the gesture of drawing as constituting an artistic subjectivity in the act itself. In drawing, histories come together such that the artist appears ‘in the moment’ as the figure of the work.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2016


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