“Drawing Connections: Baselitz, Kelly, Penone, Rockburne, and the Old Masters,” curated by Isabelle Dervaux. Morgan Library and Museum, New York, NY. Through Jan. 6. “Drawing Connections” explores the correspondences between contemporary and old master drawings. Georg Baselitz, Ellsworth Kelly, Giuseppe Penone, and Dorothea Rockburne have been invited to select drawings from the Morgan’s old master collection to be displayed next to their own drawings. The conceptual, visual, or technical relationships between them are emphasized, showing not only what contemporary drawings owe to the art of the past but also how our interpretation of old master drawings is indebted to contemporary practices.
In the NY Sun, David Cohen reports: “Where Messrs. Kelly, Penone, and Baselitz relate their own work to old masters in terms, respectively, of form, process, and style, Ms. Rockburne’s selection and self-presentation are based on what could be called a phenomenology of drawing. Her own work has taken its cue from the material properties of paper — what happens when the material is subjected to various procedures. She has found drawings in the Morgan that underscore her thoughts about drawing during different moments of her career. Like Mr. Penone, Ms. Rockburne gives us three case studies of herself and her chosen masters. Big minimal geometric drawings on shaped pages where the line follows folds of the paper, such as ‘Conservation Class #5’ (1973), keep company with a squared-up Tintoretto of a man falling backward in an open, indeterminate space — the sky, perhaps. There is almost a sense of the space being defined by the act of drawing rather than, as would be normal, the other way around. In works reflecting her interests in astronomy, such as the vibrantly colored “The Conjecture” (2007), drippy but dense watercolor is used to impart a sense of bodies moving in different dimensions. The corresponding old master drawings, such as Domenico Beccafumi’s ‘Head of an Old Man with Open Mouth’ (ca. 1529–35) also use the medium to suggest the weight and movement of the head turning in light. And complex relief structures in different paper supports, such as ‘The Plan of St. Gall’ (1988–89) are placed with a study of interlocking hands by Guido Reni, to underscore the artist’s conviction that mannerist abuse of conventional space accounted for her burgeoning fascination with mathematics and astronomy.” Read more.
In The Brooklyn Rail, Isabelle Dervaux, the curator of modern and contemporary drawing at the Morgan, and Dorothea Rockburne talked with publisher Phong Bui as the exhibition was being installed. “I made these choices intuitively,” Rockburne explains. “Continuity in art has to do with a shared sensibility toward nature. Everything in nature is related to everything else in terms of its material make up. So when the movement in a Mannerist drawing seems to vibrate in tune with one of my own works, I know that they are saying something similar about the world and that they should be paired with one another. Again, it all has to do with issues of movement in space.” Read more. Check out Rockburne’s website to find out more about her work.