What is a drawing? | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 1, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 2057-0384
  • E-ISSN: 2057-0392



Drawing, both as process and product, has proved notoriously resistant to definition. The current need for a reformulated definition is made more pressing by the postulation of ‘an expanded field of drawing’ comparable with a presumed expanded field of sculpture. This expanded field of drawing is characterized by a widespread dissolution of the traditional boundaries between categories such as drawing, writing, diagram and code. A revolution in art practice has been accompanied by a corresponding resurgence in analytical theory and critical context, reflected in exhibitions, publications and the formation of professional networks. In such a period of transformation and change it is advisable that we revisit the issue of definition of terms and practices. A variety of approaches to definition are reviewed, including ostensive and stipulative strategies. Wittgenstein’s concept of definition based upon ‘family resemblance’ is tested but found unhelpful in this case. The philosophical concepts of qualia and supervenience are introduced as useful strategies in formulating a consistent definition. The role of intention is appraised, as is the legitimacy of applying the concept of drawing by transference to print media. The article concludes with a proposal that there is still scope for a stipulative definition of drawing, and that the essence of drawing resides in the articulation of planar space. It is proposed that in this context the role of intention is immaterial. It is suggested that by deploying the concepts of qualia and supervenience the appellation ‘drawing’ can with some justification be extended by transference to a wide range of analogous products such as painting and prints.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a success
Invalid data
An error occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error