Diagrammarians

by Leila Peacock

This is a selection of 20th-21st century artworks that invoke the power of the diagrammatic. You could start this train of thought with many great artists of the diagram. But here we start deliberately with the aesthetic of the unaesthetic, something not produced by an artists at all. A badly xeroxed technical drawing from Mel Bochner’s seminal conceptual exhibition Working Drawings and Other Visible Things On Paper Not Necessarily Meant To Be Viewed As Art that took place at the SVA, New York in 1966. It marked a new way of marvelling at the diagrammatic. This badly copied image is nonetheless a thing of mystery and beauty. Diagrams we cannot decipher hold a fascination for us, they become open oracular figurations, complex portraits of something invitingly unreachable. In the conventional sense diagrams facilitate understanding, but here they are used to uncover conspiracies and forge new ones, satirise knowledge, map visions, mark time and construct new poetic forms.

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