The best books about performance drawing for artists

Maryclare Foá and Carali McCall Author Of Performance Drawing: New Practices since 1945
By Maryclare Foá and Carali McCall

The Books I Picked & Why

Drawing Papers 20: Performance Drawings

By Catherine de Zegher

Book cover of Drawing Papers 20: Performance Drawings

Why this book?

This book was important for us because it was the first time the live method of drawing was first described as performance drawing(s).

The term ‘performance drawing’ first appeared in the subtitle of Catherine de Zegher’s Drawing Papers 20: Performance Drawings, in particular with reference to Alison Knowles and Elena del Rivero. This volume accompanied a series of five solo exhibitions at The Drawing Center, New York (2001) of work that "explored the interrelation of drawing and performance." Since then, performance drawing has compellingly become an operational term – a trope and a thread of thinking to describe the process dedicated to broadening the field of drawing through resourceful practices and cross-disciplinary influence, including dance, audio, moving image, and technology. It made a big impact on our research.


On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century

By Connie Butler, Benjamin Buchloh

Book cover of On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century

Why this book?

As today’s artists are shifting boundaries of genres, creative debates are opened up and generate transformative methodologies. This book was instrumental for us, in instituting and revealing the relationship between drawing and performing, Butler, and de Zegher’s catalogue, demonstrates artworks at the forefront of the progressively vibrant and forward-thinking approach to art that contributes to the expanded field of drawing.


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The Drawing Book: A Survey of Drawing: The Primary Means of Expression

By Tania Kovats

Book cover of The Drawing Book: A Survey of Drawing: The Primary Means of Expression

Why this book?

At times, it may seem apparent that successive generations of artists reinvent the wheel and explore performance drawing across a range of disciplines; it was in particular, Tania Kovat’s writing in The Drawing Book, that gave us the broad contextualization of things – it seemed to reach into diverse yet significantly relevant references of historical predecessors that excited us. The book is complete with brilliant replications of artworks and quotes by a collection of artists.


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Perform, Repeat, Record: Live Art in History

By Amelia Jones, Adrian Heathfield

Book cover of Perform, Repeat, Record: Live Art in History

Why this book?

A scholarly / anthology resource, this book is a collection of ideas around a theme that made a big impact on us and our approach to writing. We love this book. The book is a collection of writings that provide much debate for researchers in the field discussing themes regarding live art; the book brings together artists, theorists, and historians as contributors and addresses disciplines, such as dance, theatre, action painting and expanded cinema, as forms of live art that today’s artists are inspired by.


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The Stage of Drawing: Gesture and Act

By Catherine de Zegher

Book cover of The Stage of Drawing: Gesture and Act

Why this book?

Throughout this book, the artist and editor, Avis Newman converses with the editor Catherine de Zegher about the practical process of drawing. This approach was also important and also most impactful. In the book, de Zegher asks Newman "What happens in the space between the gesture and its landing on the page?" And we love all conversations around the artist’s “doing” and “thinking." Following this conversation, the book gives the reader a window into how the drawer is thinking in the process of making and illuminates a link between performance and drawing by revealing how a drawing is performative as it comes into the world.


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