In the end, the subject at the Drawing Center is always drawing itself: what it has been, what it can be.– Holland Cotter, The New York Times
The Drawing Center, a museum in Manhattan's SoHo district, explores the medium of drawing as primary, dynamic, and relevant to contemporary culture, the future of art, and creative thought. Its activities, which are both multidisciplinary and broadly historical, include exhibitions; Open Sessions, a curated artist program encouraging community and collaboration; the Drawing Papers publication series; and education and public programs. It was founded in 1977 by curator Martha Beck (1938–2014).
Attracting more than 55,000 visitors annually from the local area, across the country, and around the world, The Drawing Center has presented more than 300 exhibitions, published over 150 catalogs, and has been recognized with prestigious awards such as the International Art Critics Association/USA award for Best Show by a Non-Profit Gallery or Space for the 2010 exhibition Leon Golub: Live & Die Like a Lion?, the 2009 exhibitions Ree Morton: At the Still Point of the Turning World and Unica Zürn: Dark Spring, and the 2008 exhibition, Frederick Kiesler: Co-Realities.
Exhibitions have toured to prestigious museums around the world, including: Tate Britain, London; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Barcelona, Spain; the Santa Monica Museum of Art; Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal; MOCA in Los Angeles; the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University, Chicago; MOCA Cleveland; The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art; Minneapolis Institute of Art; New Orleans Museum of Art; Albright-Knox Museum; and GNAM in Rome.
The Drawing Center's acclaimed exhibitions encompass a wide range of artistic traditions and take a uniquely interdisciplinary approach. Dynamic Exhibitions connect drawing to science, architecture, literature, food, political movements, theater, film, music, photography, choreography, textiles, and technology. [ Thread Lines | Drawing on Film | İnci Eviner: Runaway Girls ] | Ferran Adrià: Notes on Creativity .] Historical Exhibitions focus on both acknowledged and under-recognized masters. [ Portraits from the École des Beaux-Arts Paris | Drawing and its Double .] Modern and Contemporary Exhibitions illuminate unexplored aspects of works by major present-day and next generation artists. [ Louise Despont: Energy Scaffolds and Information Architecture | Rashid Johnson: Anxious Men | Xanti Schawinsky: Head Drawings and Faces of War | Drawn from Photography. ] In The Lab, emerging and under-recognized artists are encouraged to create experimental, cross-disciplinary work, as well as site-specific installations as part of Open Sessions.
Open Sessions (est. 2013)
Open Sessions builds on the legacy of the Viewing Program and reflects the philosophical mission of The Drawing Center by exploring the nature of drawing in its many manifestations. Open Sessions is a two-year program created as a platform for artists to find new approaches for contextualizing and exhibiting their work, through conversation, public programs, and gallery installations. The participants are artists, musicians, dancers, filmmakers, poets, theorists, and scientists—anyone who is interested in expanding the boundaries of drawing.
Viewing Program (1977–2013)
From 1977 to 2013 The Viewing Program was vital to the institution’s programming and beneficial to artists worldwide. Thousands of artists have passed through The Drawing Center’s doors to meet and get feedback from the program’s artist/curators, at many different stages of their careers and art practices. Selections exhibitions, curated from the Viewing Program, allowed the institution to present new trends, methods, and expansive approaches in the field of drawing. Many of these artists went on to make significant contributions to the field of contemporary art.
The Drawing Center’s Publication Program provides new scholarship and critical context for contemporary and historical drawings through its scholarly catalogs for major exhibitions and its inventive Drawing Papers series, an edition of which accompanies each exhibition.
A lively array of Public Programs—including gallery talks, panel discussions, concerts, family art workshops, and literary programs—engages audiences more deeply with the work on display.
The Drawing Center's Michael Iovenko School Programs, offered free of charge, have served 75,000 local public school students through drawing activities and discussions inspired by the approaches of the exhibiting artists. In addition, the Internship Program has introduced hundreds of college students to the workings of an active, cutting-edge museum.
Working in collaboration with renowned contemporary artists, The Drawing Center also publishes exclusive Limited Editions.