As a medium, drawing lends itself to the theoretical and experimental. Freed from the obligation to resolve into a finished and independent object — an obligation traditionally associated with painting and sculpture — drawing is at once open and intimate, a field for imaginative elaboration in which new concepts and ideas can emerge and evolve with relative ease.
Notations: Contemporary Drawing as Idea and Process, on view at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum Sept. 14 to Jan. 7, 2013, brings together more than 60 works by 39 artists, dating from the late 1950s to today. Curated by Meredith Malone, the museum’s associate curator, the exhibition is drawn primarily from the renowned collection of Sally and Wynn Kramarsky, New York, along with several works donated by the couple to The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Notations focuses on practices that emerged during the postwar period — a time of great innovation in drawing — yet which continue to influence contemporary practitioners. Included are works by Carl Andre, Mel Bochner, Dan Flavin, Eva Hesse, Nancy Holt, Agnes Martin, Richard Serra, Robert Smithson and other seminal American artists associated with the rigorous and process-oriented practices of Minimalism, post-Minimalism and Conceptual art. Together these artists enacted a fundamental shift away from drawing as an intimate form of graphic disclosure and toward a larger investigation of material and conceptual conditions.
Notations also examines work by subsequent generations of artists, including Janet Cohen, N. Dash, Nicole Fein and Hadi Tabatabai, who employ procedures rooted in Process and Conceptual art; and Christine Hiebert and Allyson Strafella, who foster exploratory relationships with their materials and mediums. This juxtaposition, of both established and emerging artists, reflects the sustained allure of drawing as a preeminent medium for artists who embrace its flexibility, immediacy and economy of means.
The exhibition is divided into two thematic sections — “Repetitive and Serial Systems” and “Presentation Drawings and Proposals” — reflecting the multifaceted character of drawing and its marked shift in status since the late 1950s. Both sections highlight key strategies employed by postwar artists in rethinking the work of art and the nature of representation — strategies that have continued to compel succeeding generations of artists. Though many works on view continue the early modern practice of making drawings as finite, self-contained expressions, innovators in the 1960s and 1970s began to employ drawing in ways not previously considered independent works of art: diagrams, instructions for fabrication, notes for site-specific installations and markers of duration.
The exhibition was designed by Los Angeles–based architects Frank Escher and Ravi GuneWardena.
An illustrated brochure will accompany the exhibition. In addition, an online catalogue — organized and edited by Rachel Nackman, curator of the Kramarsky Collection — will feature an essay by Malone, images of all of the works on view, as well as artist interviews and select entries by graduate students from the Department of Art History and Archaeology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, and from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University.
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum
The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, part of Washington University’s Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, is committed to furthering critical thinking and visual literacy through a vital program of exhibitions, publications and accompanying events. The museum dates back to 1881, making it the oldest art museum west of the Mississippi River. Today, it boasts one of the finest university collections in the United States.
Support for Notations: Contemporary Drawing as Idea and Process was provided by the Sam Fox School, the Hortense Lewin Art Fund and members of the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum.
Notations: Contemporary Drawing as Idea and Process will open with a public reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14, and will remain on view through Jan. 7, 2013. Both the reception and the exhibition are free and open to the public.
At 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, curator Meredith Malone will host an Artists’ Conversation and gallery walkthrough with artists N. Dash and Christine Hiebert.
The Kemper Art Museum is located on Washington University’s Danforth Campus, immediately adjacent to Steinberg Hall, near the intersection of Skinker and Forsyth boulevards. Regular hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays; and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The museum is closed Tuesdays.
For more information, call (314) 935-4523 or visit kemperartmuseum.wustl.edu.