Sketchbook Index and List of Works

Cover: Diego Rivera

Sketch from: California miners / Diego Rivera, 1931. 1 v. (53 sketches) : pencil, charcoal, and watercolor ; 21 x 16 cm.

Rivera produced this sketchbook while in San Francisco working on the Stock Exchange and San Francisco Art Institute murals. Most images are charcoal or pencil portraits of miners, either singly or in groups, with a few of the California tennis star, Helen Wills Moody. Two are landscapes of hills with watercolor washes. Some of these portraits appear in the murals. On the first page appear penciled love messages, apparently from Frida Kahlo to Diego Rivera. Inside front cover has penciled title “California miners, Diego Rivera, 1931.” The love messages and names of colors are written in Spanish; title only in English.1

Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, 960078 ©2002 Banco de México Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust. Av. Cinco de Mayo No. 2, Col. Centro, Del. Cuauhtémoc, 06059, México, D.F.

Publisher’s Note: Ellen Birrell

Welcome back. Karin Lanzoni edits this largely visual issue of X-Tra–an issue that interrogates the contemporary context of the artist’s sketchbook. Testdept is our designer this time. And X-Tra has a new website designed by Allen Compton; visit us at X-Traonline.org.

The pace of change accelerates: Los Angeles has lost another magazine. As you may know, Art issues. ceased publication in November 2001. I would like to thank publisher Gary Kornblau for so diligently and influentially taking up the challenge of documenting LA’s vibrant and diverse art scene. Agree or disagree with the critical perspective of the magazine, it will be sorely missed.

Please consider subscribing to X-Tra if you haven’t already. We need your check and your vote of confidence; LA needs art magazines. By subscribing you will be assured of supporting critical dimensionality in Los Angeles.

Ellen Birrell, Publisher

A Foreword by Karin Lanzoni

“Are you imagining, as you read me, that I’m portraying myself? Have patience: this is merely my model.” – Colette

Rough drawings and sketches are a rather private form of art in the sense that they are seldom made with the public eye in mind. They are mostly hidden away in sketchbooks, paper files, computer files, and perhaps the occasional shoebox, used only by the artist or perhaps his or her assistants. Without the concern of an exhibition quality drawing or a fully complete work, what then, can the status of a sketch tell us about the conceptual, intellectual, and intuitive process of an artist? It seems that there is a dialogue between an artist and a sketch that concerns the goal of producing a final artwork for public display. This is a dialogue not often seen by the public, let alone curators, collectors, or other artists. It is in this sense that, to paraphrase Michael Craig-Martin, drawings and sketches are the great secret of art.

With this “great secret” in mind, I selected some of the sketches for this issue from several well-known artists, designers, and architects which are housed in the archives of the Getty Research Institute. As far I know, none of the sketches have been published before. For the bulk of the issue, I asked 20 artists–some well known, others just emerging–to submit a sketch from their archive, sketchbook, computer files, shoebox, etc.

As an artist (and teacher of drawing), my entire experience and understanding of “the sketch” is informed by that role, and has led to an interest in the clandestine relationship between artist and sketch. I was looking for works (read sketches) that are not pieces in and of themselves, but are part of the ménage à trois formed between themselves, the artist, and the final exhibition piece. I was curious to look at works that would perhaps never be shown at all. In examining the private dialog between an artist, and the sketch, I quickly realized that much of this “conversation” between the two is lost to the outsider, perhaps in the same way that siblings can have an entire linguistic transaction without ever having uttered a word. Their exchange is bridged through years of intimacy and familiarity with one another, allowing complex interactions with minimal effort. So, with this in mind, I invited each artist to write something about the work shown that could perhaps lend some insight into the process of working with the sketch and its roles in producing a final work. Lastly, some of the sketches were done by artists who have passed away and are therefore unable to provide some written thought to accompany their sketch. For these, I have her provided descriptions from the Getty Research Catalog, and in some cases my own descriptions, to provide some background. Some of these sketches stand in contradistinction to an artist’s well known oeuvre; this again, suggests a triangulation between artist, art work and sketch. The artists written responses, as well as the catalog descriptions, follow the sketches at the back of this issue.

What is the result of such a collection–a collective sketchbook of sorts? Certainly, it is a substantial array of different kinds of images: some pointing to process, some suggesting this notion of inspiration, still others being utterly enigmatic. Overall though, there is a sense of a hidden exchange, like a  confessional, like a visit to a psychoanalyst, like the privileged relationship between lawyer and client. One understands the process and the significance of these meetings, but one never knows what exactly was talked about. What passes between artist and sketch, preferring instead to allow us to subtitle the exchange. Of those who have chosen to write, we see another layer of meaning which serves to both enlighten our understanding of their relationship to their sketches, but also, if it is possible, to provide yet another obstacle in our attempts to arrest or secure a fixed reading of the sketch, its maker, and the communion they share.

01: Rheim Alkadhi
White ink on black paper
8.25” x 6.25

There can be said to exist a discrepancy between the two ocularesque noiseways indicated. One is the equivalent of a look about the country, accompanied by the picaresque pluck of hair. The other is of a raving urbanity, overrun with hemorrhoids, relieved to lift up the horns of plenty, at the very least.

The oculus sees the membrane of the [Helmut] Newtonian body, a photograph’s negative, the effects of a fantasy sprawl, the what-have-you of what you don’t have.

What becomes of such a rendering? Leave aside the paranoia and failed interface, the oculi and the words; the only thing to truly matter is how we find ourselves moved by the music.

02: Madena Asbell
Pencil and pink watercolor on paper
8” x 4”

This is a sketch for a drawing of one of many envelopes containing correspondence found in David Tudor’s archive at the Getty Research Institute. It is a love letter, and is part of a work in progress in which I am examining and “drawing upon” ideas of copying, rendering and repetition, as well as intimacy and impotence.

03: Robert Bordo
Pencil on paper
7.75” x 11”

04: Steven Hull
Ink on paper
8.5” x 11”

This drawing is one of many that started out as an idea for a painting. These kinds of drawings, for me, don’t ever make it into the studio. In an indirect way, they become the first thought that is almost always left behind when it comes down to the actual making of a painting.

For me, in the end, since I have so many of these kinds of drawings, they become like a history of thoughts… sometimes far removed from my art practice.

05: Marina Kappos
Pencil on tracing paper
15” x 20”

I usually do not show my drawings to anyone. They are where my mistakes happen and where the messy lines are. There is a sense of freedom in drawing. But when it looks right, the drawing becomes like a blueprint. I use my drawings as templates for my paintings, even though the two can eventually look very different.

06: Allan Kaprow
Pen and ink in bound notebook
7” x 8.25”

Sketched for a performance in NYC, 1958, when Kaprow was teaching at Rutgers University. -Karin Lanzoni

Library, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, 980063

07: Mike Kelley
Ink on blue-lined paper
8.5” x 11”

Sketch from notebook.
Runway for Interactive DJ event (1999).
Ramp constructed for performance/opening of the artist’s exhibition at Kunstverein Braunschweig, Cologne.

08: Heidi Kidon
Pencil, paint, collage on paper
11.5” x 15”

“Top The Logical Path Of The Logical” is the text that I would like to accompany the drawing. The title is an annotation, a footnote of sorts, and I believe it elaborates my sketch as would more formal text.

09: Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Litho crayon on paper (sketchbook)
6.25” x 8.75”
circa 1930

Sketch from a bound sketchbook, dated from 1924-1932, drawn predominantly in ink and pencil. -Karin Lanzoni

Library, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, 850463 ©2002 Ingeborg & Dr. Wolfgang Henze-Ketterer, Witchtrach/Bern

10: Lisa Lapinski
Ink, pink and blue magic marker on paper
8.5” x 11”

In 1919, at the end of World War I, Bertrand Russell wrote an essay titled “Mathematics and Logic”, in which he included a single footnote. Footnote 1 read: The importance of “tautology” for a definition of mathematics was pointed out to me by my former student Ludwig Wittgenstein, who was working on the problem. I do not know if he has solved it, or even whether he is alive or dead.

You may think this is a non sequester, but it isn’t.

Has Ludwig solved the problem?

Is Ludwig alive or dead?

Has Ludwig solved the problem or is Ludwig dead?

Russell’s article never describes what tautology is. He says he does not yet know how to define it. We only learn that it is a replacement for the law of contradiction, which had been the foundation for logic, but now is “one among…” and “has no preeminence.” We learn that Wittgenstein has suggested it. We learn that everything logical is based on it, and if Wittgenstein is dead, the article seems to suggest it is this tautology which has killed him. Wittgenstein, who is in the trenches at the very moment of this footnote, will send a message to Russell telepathically; and Russell will receive it in his Cambridge flat, in fact, he will be sitting on a blue sofa designed by Wittgenstein. The sofa was built especially to receive messages of philosophical importance from the front.

The message is:

The world is everything that is the case.

The world is the totality of facts, not things.

The world is determined by the facts, and by these being all the facts.

11: Thomas Lawson
Parliament Square, After Nasmyth
Ink on paper
9” x 14”

This is a study for a painting which itself is part of a larger, ongoing project. The scene depicted is Parliament Square, Edinburgh, as it appeared at the end of the eighteenth century, during the time that the old Parliament Hall functioned as the law courts. My drawing is derived from a sketch for a stage set, drawn by Alexander Nasmyth in 1820, for a theatrical production of Walter Scott’s novel, The Heart of Midlothian.

12: Daniel Libeskind
Ink on paper (sketchbook)
5.5’ x 8.25”

This sketch is from a series of sketchbooks of drawings, notes, musings in various languages from the “Daniel Libeskind Papers” held at the Getty. The sketchbooks also deal with Libeskind’s design for the Jewish Museum extension to the Berlin Museum (Jüdisches Museum im Berlin Museum), 1988-1992. Libeskind called this project “Between the Lines.”1

Library, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, 920061

13: Mark Robert Lewis
Ink on post-its
3” x 3” each

I’ve grown up in an era when, thanks to the personal computer amongst many other things, the lines between reproductions and originals are less and less clear, a time when the aura of an object has evaporated into a kind of forgotten mysticism. In addition to being accessible to professionals and non-professionals, computers reproduce and disseminate faster than anything to date. They help feed an enormous appetite born out of a generation of consumers rather than producers; a drug-addict-like culture willing to sacrifice traditional notions of production for fast, cheaply produced, and disposable reproductions. Let’s go to Ikea and buy the same couch, let’s buy the same car, rent the same movie, buy the same Matisse poster, eat the same hamburger, use the same software, read the same magazines, as a matter of fact, let’s move to Las Vegas together and live in duplicates of the same planned community house number 4.

I’m interested in reproducibility, cheapness, speed, the production opt art with a consumerist sensibility, post-it papers from Staples, paints from the Home Depot, honey bears from my local Vons supermarket. Materials and objects of a time ground into the consciousness of that same epoch. I love those Judd color studies done with paint chips, early collages by Picasso and Braque, Chinese painters who can’t be distinguished from their mentors, Dürer’s woodcuts, Warhols “Shadow” paintings , the “Compositions, couleurs, idées” of Sonia Delaunay, stereographs, Arte Povera, looking at the exhibitions catalogues rather than seeing the show, Degas’ photos, Gustave Eiffel’s shippable churches, La Galerie des Glaces, Earth Art, Video Art, the materials in Eva Hesse’s sculpture, and the Christmas windows at Barney’s New York. Like Andy wanted to be a machine, I want to be a computer. I want to reproduce things perfectly, but unlike Andy (or maybe not) I count on the conceit in this desire; as much as I try, I can’t.

14: El Lissitzky
Ink on paper
3.5” x 4.5”

Sketch for a logo for the “National Food Company”. It states: Eat in Good Health, meaning something like “eat to your heart’s content.” This sketch is part of a letter Lissitzky wrote to Sophie Kupers, in July 2, 1935, in which he shows her two sketches for the National Food Company. -Karin Lanzoni

Library, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, 950076 ©2002 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Thanks to David Woodruff for Russian translations.

15: René Magritte
Ink on paper
8.25” x 6.75”

This sketch is from the “René Magritte Papers”. Part of the collection consists of early letters of Magritte (many illustrated) on artistic matters. Most are undated, but a number date from his military service and appear to be addressed to his close friends Pierre Bourgeois and Pierre Flouquet, with whom he shares his ideas on “genius”; the character of his work; and the relationships between art, music, illusion, poetry, the “Academie,” and the material world. There are occasional comments on exhibitions, his choice of paints, work in progress, his romance with Georgette Berge (whom he married in 1922), and the work of Baudelaire, Cocteau, the Cubists, Futurists, and “Independants.” One letter accounts for his breaking up with his friends. References to those in his circle include Georges Eeckhoud, Karel Maes, Julien Benda and the poet E. L. T. Mesens. The letter of 1940 includes Magritte’s thoughts on the war and the state of modern life. Two separate sheets, apparently originally enclosed with letters, represent a “Danseuse” (in watercolor) with explanatory notes, and “Le Mystere de la Vie” (in ink).1

Library, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, 870435 ©2002 C. Herscovici, Brussels / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

16: Euan Macdonald
Ink on paper
9” x 12”

17: Chris Nichols
Computer file
Sketch from 3pianopiece

The sense of mystery about your product can be incorporated into your message. When Sony introduced its PlayStation, its campaign revolved around a little mystery message that consisted of the letter U, the letter R, the letters NOT, and then a red E. “We stuck that out there, and we never told anybody what it meant or what it stood for,” says Charlotte Stuyvenberg, who was director of public relations and promotions for Sony Computer Entertainment at the time. “And it was really cool to watch kids figure it out. Once they did, they started talking about it all over the place,” she says. Stuyvenberg knew that the message had become a household phrase when she walked into a store one day wearing her PlayStation jacket, which didn’t have the slogan on it, just the PlayStation logo. A little kid, maybe four years old, came running up to her and grabbed her by the sleeve. “You are not ready! You are not ready!” he said, demonstrating that he too, had solved the puzzle: URNOT + a red E added up to “You Are Not Ready.” The message challenged young people even after they had deciphered it, asking, “Are you ready for the Sony PlayStation?” Created by ad agency TBWA Chiat/Day, the mystery symbol was distributed through brochures, T-shirts, stickers, and so on handed out from an eighteen-wheel truck that appeared at festivals and sporting events across the country.

18: Jim Ovelmen
Computer file

Involved in a collaborative installation, I started making these models of the possible paths of a surveillance camera traveling on an ad hoc conveyer system. The artists were to construct a floor standing sculpture to be “seen” by the camera. The wireless camera would travel through the space and exit through a hole in the wall and return to form a loop, all the while sending its live video to a projection outside of the building. These images are maquettes of the gallery space which imagined different camera paths. The artists wanted to know about how and where to build their pieces so they would be in the view of the passing camera. As artists living in different cities, we emailed these images between each other like snapshots, yet in the end instead of working like logistical sketches they simply became studies of themselves. 2/02

19: Bonnie Porter
Computer file
Photographic sketches:

I sometimes use snapshots as sketches or studies, which I find often informs the technique and composition of my photographic work in the studio.

I am interested in the ambiguities of perception, and my photographs explore this notion on many levels. I make photographs that strip the photographic process down to its most basic, light-gathering elements. My work suspends photographic reality by taking those same elements – light, color, depth, and shadow – as its compositional subject matter, utilizing the properties of the medium to investigate our visual experience, and to challenge our expectations of photography. The inherent properties of the camera and lens and how they capture light and shadow often influence the final compositions.

Figure 1 is a “sketch photos” I took in my bathroom, in which light cascaded gently through a partially opened door. It motivated me to set up in the studio a similar kind of opening through which I could cascade different types of light sources. Figure 2 is the resulting photograph. Similarly, figure 3 was a study of foreshortening. The concrete square did not “read” as square. Foreshortening and cascading light influenced the composition of fig. 4. Finally, figure 5 was an example of lens flare experienced when taking a photo of the sun. In figure 6, I directly aimed light at the camera lens to create a composition using lens flare and foreshortening.

20: Man Ray
Pencil on green construction paper
8” x 10”

This sketch is from Man Ray’s Hollywood album. “The Hollywood album” is a collection of handwritten and typescript musings on art and aesthetics assembled by Man Ray from 1940-1948. Highlights consist of writings titled “Cinema,” “Painting and photography,” “Art and science,” “Objects,” “Sade,” “Nature and the man,” “Calm diatribe,” “Revolving doors,” “A note on the Shakespearean equations,” and “Photography in reverse.” Other materials include an ink drawing of a camera, two pencil drawings [one of the Griffith Observatory?] and a portrait photograph of Man Ray affixed to the album cover signed by him and Savage (1948).1

Library, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, 930027 ©2002 Man Ray Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

21: Jérôme Saint-Loubert Bié
Ink on tracing paper
Book : Robert Ryman, Paris: Centre Georges Pompidou, 1981
21 x 30 cm, 1997.

Preparatory drawing for a project on the web. The final piece can be viewed at the following address: www2.centrepompidou.fr/traverses/numero3/jslb/index.htm

22: Carolee Schneemann
Ink on paper
8.5” x 11”

Sketch from the Carolee Shneemann papers, in the Getty Research Institute. Her famous performance piece, “Interior Scroll”, was first performed in 1975. -Karin Lanzoni

Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, 950001 ©2002 Carolee Schneemann / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

23: Kristina Solomoukha
Mixed media on paper (sketchbook)
6.25” x 8.25”

24: Brad Spence
Notebook page, n.d.
7.25” x 9.25”

25: Mitchell Syrop
untitled, undated.
6” x 4”

Thanks to Kathy Haddad, Roman Jaster, Laszlo Syrop

26: Izumi Tachiki
Computer file

The file title is “box bb 2”, dimensions variable, black and white computer-generated image, 1998.

27: Lebbeus Woods
Ink on paper (sketchbook)
5 ” x 6 ”

This sketch is from [Woods’s] “Journals” dating from May 17, 1988 to April 4, 1997. Many of the journals are about his experiences in or drawings of Bosnia during the war with Serbia and Croatia. — Getty Research Institute Library Catalogue

28: Richard Wright
Pencil and gouche on paper

There is no clear procedure in my work by which an idea (thing envisioned) evolved into an image (thing made). I don’t so much like the idea of the sketch (it makes me think of Victorian water colours). It also evokes the thought of the armature (the bones on which the body is moulded). A kind of ‘as above, so below’ model whereby the object evolves as an attempt to bring into the material world an image which perhaps exists in a more perfect form elsewhere. Although this model is not useless I find the synthesis of the work is sometimes less direct.

It is not so much a matter of starting with a plot and filling out the characters but more a question of starting with a character and asking what they would do, what they would say, or even more remotely of starting with something said and then the question who could have said this? In practical terms this means that I tend to leave myself notes reminding me of something I thought I saw.

The situation becomes further disturbed when I consider the element of time. Two or more years can pass before a thing remembered may become a thing used. In this time, it can be picked up and mutated, dropped, picked up, etc. before it becomes recognised. These mutational operations are often influenced by thoughts which seem entirely external and unforeseeable from within the frame of the original idea. Sometimes a thing has to be found to be useless in many ways before it is finally useful.

Back Cover: Allan Kaprow
See 06: Allan Kaprow


  1. Getty Research Institute Library Catalog
  2. Getty Research Institute Library Catalog
  3. Getty Research Institute Library Catalog
  4. Getty Research Institute Library Catalog
Further Reading