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Vitamin D2

Phaidon’s in-depth look at the unassuming pencil, for artists and enthusiasts alike


Covered in henna-colored scribbles, Vitamin D2 is the unassuming sequel to Phaidon’s extensive 2005 tome Vitamin D: New Perspectives in Drawing. Like its predecessor, Vitamin D2 explores the contemporary world of art’s most fundamental, but sometimes overlooked tool, the pencil. Approaching its subject like a textbook, the book demonstrates the breadth and richness of modern drawing by carefully analyzing a diverse range of styles seen throughout over 500 recent works.


Simple and exacting, the text is structured like that of an encyclopedia and organized by artist. Starting with Nigeria-born Njideka Akunyili and ending with Hungary’s Balint Zsako, Vitamin D2’s artist alphabet offers a truly international range of talent. Each of the book’s 115 artists is presented alongside in-depth analyses of representative works as well as insight on how the style relates to the wider drawing community from a range of art historians—most notably Christian Rattemeyer, Associate Curator of Drawings at MoMA New York, who wrote the introduction. Refreshingly, Vitamin D2 shies away from focusing on individual evolutions and careers, and chooses instead to take create an informative guide to the nuanced world of drawing that both the accomplished and the novice can appreciate. Unburdened by biographies, the book’s descriptions offer a particularly insightful view that embraces the big picture and showcases the innovative and experimental side of the medium.


Filled with pieces of every size, style and color imaginable, Vitamin D2 is teeming with a range of contemporary materials and techniques currently making up the medium, including everything from lunar landscapes composed of infinite marker lines to shadowy mountains made out of carefully placed charcoal smudges and ink drop flowers. Phaidon’s rough-edged pages and collage-like layout celebrate the quirky and independent spirit of its contents, and Vitamin D2 makes a strong case for why drawing remains relevant in a world that prizes newer technologies.


Vitamin D2 comes out 21 May 2013, but is available now for pre-order through

Images by Katie Olsen and James Thorne


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