The Desire of the Line: Ralph Hotere Figurative Works

Kriselle Baker

‘Hotere’s drawings are remarkable for their tumultuous, unbridled energy. . . . Baker certainly has her head around the subject, underlining the connections between these rhythmical sketches and Hotere’s abstract paintings.’ – Gregory O’Brien, Sunday Star-Times


This elegant book surveys the line drawings and paintings of women which New Zealand artist Ralph Hotere has produced from 1959 through to the late 1990s.

The works fall into three groups, the largest of which is from the Woman series: sensual, beautiful images, mostly nudes, making superb use of line. Carnival is a small group of works on paper depicting the annual carnival in Avignon and Nice and conveying, in line and rich colour, a sense of the grotesque and the frenetic; the Song Cycle works were originally drawn for a stage performance in 1975 and suggest movement and sound.

The drawings featured in The Desire of the Line are captivating and also richly varied; they contrast vividly with the large abstract works for which Hotere is better known.



Kriselle Baker is an art historian with a PhD from The University of Auckland on the work of Ralph Hotere. She is author of Fiona Pardington: The Pressure of Sunlight Falling (2011).


October 2005, 248 x 194 mm, 100 pages, colour & b/w illustrations
paperback, ISBN 9781869403430, $59.99