Catalogue entry

Robert Law 1934-2004

T01806 Drawing 4.6.71 1971

Inscribed ‘4.6.71’ b.r., ‘Bob Law 4.6.71’ on the reverse.
Graphite on paper, 60¼ x 80¿ (153x204).
Paper embossed ‘MINDPROPERTY CO.’ b.r.
Purchased from the artist (Grant-in-Aid) 1973.
Exh: Seveti Exhibitions, Tate Gallery, London, February–March 1972 (no catalogue); 7aus London, Kunsthalle, Bern, January–February 1973 (14).

Although the artist had ‘always wanted to do large drawings, they were impractical’ and T01774 and T01775 were the largest he made until 1971.

T01806 was the second in a series of eight very large drawings made between June 1971 and February 1972.

Drawing 2.6.71, 6o¼ x 80¾ in.
Drawing 4.6.71, 6o¼ x 80¼ in.
Drawing, 20.7.71, 60 x 80 in.
Drawing 4.8.71, 60 x 80 in.
Drawing 15.9.71, 60 x 80 in.
Drawing 5.2.72, 60 x 80 in.
Drawing 1.2.72, 60 x 80 in.
Drawing 10.2.72, 60 x 80 in.

All eight drawings were made with a graphite stick on cartridge paper of two weights: the first, second and sixth on 60 lb. paper, the rest on 90 lb. The initial incentive to make the drawings was due to the artist’s discovery that cartridge paper could be bought in large rolls thus enabling him to make large drawings without joining small pieces of paper together. This discovery, the artist recalled, was made in relation to the work he was doing on ‘1 to 1,000,000 Drawing—Art for All’ (first installed in the Lisson Gallery, 15 December 1970) which demanded a length of paper which could be gradually rolled from one spool to another. The lightweight paper (60 lb.) was used for the drawing machine. Having made the first two large drawings, a friend then gave the artist a roll of the heavier cartridge paper to complete the series.

As with T01774 and T01775, the folds were for practical considerations as the artist states in a letter (15 October 1973):‘The original idea of folds came from the necessity of making large drawings but without the expense of huge pieces of glass and the difficulties of transportation, so I divided the paper into a proportion of 3 folds x 4 folds making a natural nail fixing point at each fold around the edge. I then reinforced each fixing point with white linen tape. Each time the drawing was hung the tape was replaced, this was of course to eliminate a series of tatty holes from previous hangings.’

After the paper has been folded, it is unfolded and tacked to the wall or laid down on the floor. Although when drawing with the graphite stick the artist restricts himself to smallish areas, they are not carefully marked out, neither do they conform to the areas of the folded squares. T01806 was drawn with the paper pinned to the wall, the texture of which is visible in the drawing.

Graphite stick was used for practical reasons, since it does not have to be sharpened continually like a pencil and for the quality of the colour giving ‘a more intense, blacker black.’

Making the drawings was physically taxing and each one ‘took a day or two’ to make. The quality of the surface was important, each drawing in the series ‘exploring different tones’. In the process of drawing and while resting, the artist would step back from the drawing to see which areas were lighter and needed more work and so forth. They were not made like the early ones in a spontaneous fashion, the artist knowing what effect he wanted before starting.

This series constitutes the last drawings of this kind that the artist has made.

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1972–1974, London 1975.