Sunday, December 16, 2012

Drawing!

...One More Agony, ©1979 Evertson, spray paint and chalk on paper...

This ancient piece executed shortly after I moved to NYC from grad school sums up my dilemma after viewing two drawing exhibits recently. Some art is so good I can't stand it.

The exhibitions currently at the Morgan Library and the Frick are sweeping in the scope of history covered and a must see for artists interested in the sublime beauty offered by drawing.

First some links:



One of the dangers for me, as a working artist lies in comparisons.  It's easy to become overwhelmed not only by the virtuosity of these masters, but the fact that the works have been safeguarded and admired for centuries. Just imagine the task of archiving and preserving something as fragile as paper for centuries.  I wonder as I look through my flat files of works what will happen to my work, certainly precious to me but what of their survival?

For example, the Munich collection which dates from 1758 when Elector Carl Theodor commissioned the creation of a kabinett of drawings and etching certainly has required generations of dedicated curators.  It now contains over 400,000 works on paper and is a triumph of will over the horrors of wars, plunder and nature.

Titian, Rider and Fallen Soldier, ca.1537

Indeed war is a favorite subject matter during the Renaissance and Rider and Fallen Soldier by Titian illustrates the horror and frenzy captured as a drawing.  Several pieces on exhibit are intended as more commemorative in nature but the immediacy of the act of drawing struck me as I look over the knees of the fallen man into the vagueness of the victor astride his mount.

The piece contains grid lines so it is a mystery as to its purpose; whether as study for a lost work or a proposed work. The catalogue tantalizes us with mention of a mural destroyed in 1577.

Pontormo, Two Standing Women, ca. 1530


 This Pontormo struck me as having an abstract quality yet with an economy of line and shading conveys a drama unfolding. Or is the abstract and ethereal looking upon its more corporal self?

Huber, View of Feldkirch, 1527

Discovery of artists unknown to me of which there were many in these two exhibits left me a bit chastened.  Huber is a good example.  The year is 1527 and here this man is placing nature in front of the trapping of man.  Very oriental feel about this ink sketch in the handling of the tree and mountains in the background. (....and the eye and observation to be this confident!...)

Friedrich, View over the Elbe, ca. 1816

Exhibitions like this also serve to focus my thinking concerning narratives of influence and how we categorize artists into schools.  This Friedrich has an unmistakable feeling of the surreal about it; from the framing of the half circle world below the bridge to the lonely figure above.  While it could be classified as allegory I find the cropping and composition of the natural observed world particularly transcendent. The piece is rendered in graphite with shading of a warm brown wash.

In our modern sense drawing can exist as a major working method in and of itself and as we move to the more recent works we do see that drawing became something more capable of existing as the final vessel rather than preparation.  Or perhaps it has come full circle, in that drawing first appeared as pictograph intended to communicate directly.  Later becoming secondary or process or training as our human inclination to elaborate developed.  In the case of the early works represented here one can witness both the eye training and the use as preparatory material.


Heizer, Untitled, ca.1968

Some later works represented in the exhibit such as the Heizer piece tend to operate on several levels.  This piece seems to exist first as words, with an erased heading of "Statements" Further erasure of the words and headings and subsequent banding with graphite and ink seem to impose a landscape feel to the piece, perhaps referring to the artists practice of large scale earth works or of obliterating the statement in favor of the visual.


One other fine link is the review by the always knowledgeable and insightful John Haber from Haber's Art Reviews.

Only a few more short weeks to see these drawings - Both exhibits close January 6th.

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