Three years ago, the artist James Drake (born 1946) began the ambitious project of creating 1,242 drawings that would trace and reference all of the developments of his multifaceted career. Known as both a sculptor and video artist, Drake has always considered draftsmanship to be a key to his process, and this body of drawings does not disappoint. It is both a fascinating tour of Drake’s creative thinking and a testament to the simple power of graphite and ink on paper in the hands of a master of the craft.
After years of making large charcoal drawings, James Drake (born 1946) found himself making drawings that were predominately white and airy, from which he extracted images using an exacto knife. The red charcoal drawings also collected here were made in response to the white cut out drawings. Published on the heels of a successful retrospective, this is the first monograph on Drake’s drawings.
An internationally acclaimed artist whose work has been honored with inclusion in both the Venice Biennale and the Whitney Biennial, James Drake has explored political, social, and universal themes through the media of sculpture, video, installation, photography, and drawing. James Drake, the first monograph devoted to the artist, surveys thirty-five years of Drake’s work up to 2007.
Many of the works reproduced in James Drake reflect the artist’s preoccupation with borders. Some have to do with the political border between the United States and Mexico and the inherent social and psychological tensions of people living in its extreme and unique environment. Other works explore the internal boundaries that people experience as a result of attitudes, prejudices, power, control, and arrogance. Jimmy Santiago Baca’s narrative poem Huitzilopochtli, a personal response to Drake’s work, provides a verbal counterpart to the artist’s theme of border-crossing.
Que Linda la Brisa is a sympathetic look at transvestite prostitutes in a Mexican border town with color photographs by James Drake, an impressionistic prose piece by Benjamin Alire Saenz and a long poem by Jimmy Santiago Baca.