I know it is standard to blame Jacques Derrida for any kind of French intellectual beastliness, but David Hockney is mistaken in suggesting that it was he who claimed that “painting was dead” (David Hockney on joy, longing and spring light: ‘I’m teaching the French how to paint Normandy!’, 10 May). It was, in fact, the painter Paul Delaroche who said it in about 1840 on seeing an early daguerreotype.
Derrida wrote extensively and sensitively about drawing and painting. His book The Truth in Painting contains essays on the drawings of Gérard Titus-Carmel and Valerio Adami, as well as his extremely funny discussion of Martin Heidegger and Meyer Schapiro’s dispute over Van Gogh’s painting of a pair of boots.
In the early 1990s, Derrida was invited by the drawings department at the Louvre in Paris to curate an exhibition from its collection.
The resulting book, Memoirs of the Blind: The Self-portrait and Other Ruins, is a brilliant meditation on drawing itself, among other things.
Professor of media theory and history, Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts, Lancaster University
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