Valéry: From artistic practice to a conception of drawing

Paul Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines the extensive artistic practice of Valéry, tracing its genesis back to his earliest drawing notebooks, many years before his legendary connections with the leading figures of the art world of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century (Degas, Monet, Picasso). Reminiscent of Leonardo da Vinci whose Notebooks informed the method and form of the Cahiers, Valéry commonly used drawing as a complementary graphic representation of the abstract and theoretical investigations in his own notebooks as well as using it as a genetic support in the manuscripts. However, for over sixty years much of his creative output gave independent expression in the form of watercolours to his innate artistic sensibility. Valéry was not only a very accomplished painter and engraver, but devised a comprehensive theory of drawing. While some of this research emerges in the monograph Degas Danse Dessin and in numerous prefaces for painters and sculptors, this conception was fully developed in the privacy of the Cahiers across a multitude of fragments which this article synthesizes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-50
Number of pages13
JournalFrench Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010


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