Map Of The Pencil On The Paper On The Subway

William Anastasi, Subway Drawing (Way to John Cage), 1988, graphite on paper, 11 1/8 x 11 1/2 in., sold from a Danish collection in 2011 at Christie’s London

Beginning in the 1960s William Anastasi would make “blind drawings” that incorporated chance and the environment. One way he did this was by placing a piece of paper on his lap, and holding pencils in his hands while he rode the subway.

The 2011 Christie’s auction where this drawing sold included a short essay, apparently written by watching a 2007 interview with Anastasi on a website that no longer exists: “The reoccurrence of layers due to repetitive cycles in Anastasi’s work is fundamental to his being in regard to his admiration for Soren Kierkegaard who in Anastasi’s words created a “Recipe for life” (ibid.) in saying, “the love of repetition is the only happy love, like that of recollection.”

The subway drawings were titled with the trip or the destination. Many, like this one, from 1988, were made on the way to meet his friend and longtime collaborator John Cage. Cage died in 1992. Anastasi died in 2023.