Richard Pousette-Dart: 1930s
Best known as a founding member of the New York School of painting, Richard Pousette-Dart (1916-1992) initially pursued a career as a sculptor. The son of Nathaniel Pousette, a painter, art director, educator, and art writer, and Flora Louise Dart, a poet and musician, Pousette-Dart was raised in an environment surrounded by music, poetry, and the visual arts, and began drawing and painting by the age of eight. Introduced to African, Oceanic, and Native American art by his father, Pousette-Dart made frequent visits to the Museum of Natural History as a young man. In 1938, he forged a close friendship with John Graham, whose writings were closely aligned with his own interests in spiritual concerns and so-called primitive art. Throughout the 1930s, Pousette-Dart was most entranced by the work of Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, whose abstract sculptures, drawings, and forms in brass greatly informed the orientation of the young American artist.
The Drawing Center exhibition will be the first in-depth consideration of Richard Pousette-Dart’s drawings from the 1930s, a period when the artist pursued directly-carved sculpture, yet also painted, experimented with photography, and created numerous works on paper. These early drawings explore Pousette-Dart’s concerns about sculpture and working three-dimensionally, and many reference the figure through full-frontal or profile views as they consider space, orientation, and volume. Additionally, numerous studies allude to dance, animal forms, masks, and heads, and many examples offer an accumulation of abstract and geometric forms, particularly for his brasses—small sculptures meant to be “held in the hand.” The exhibition will include approximately eighty works from the 1930s including drawings, notebooks, and brasses.
Curated by Brett Littman, Executive Director.
Richard Pousette-Dart: 1930s is made possible by the support of The Estate of Richard Pousette-Dart and Pace Gallery.
Image: Richard Pousette-Dart, Agony, 1930s, Graphite, ink, and wash on paper, 18 ½ x 14 ⅞ inches. Photographer: Jason Wierzbicki. Courtesy of The Richard Pousette-Dart Estate.
Rashid Johnson: Anxious Men
Since distinguishing himself as the youngest artist in Freestyle, the landmark 2001 exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem, Johnson has established himself as one of the preeminent artists of his generation. Invoking such varied themes as the black experience in America, the dialogue between abstraction and figuration, and the relationship between art and personal identity, Johnson has been discussed within the context of contemporary painting, photography, sculpture, video, installation art, and even performance. Now, with the Anxious Men, drawing enters that list.
Universally accessible and employing common visual tropes such as the monochrome and the grid, Johnson's work is also self-referential making specific allusion to his upbringing in Chicago and the Afro-centric values of his parents. In Rashid Johnson: Anxious Men, the artist creates a site-specific installation in the Drawing Room gallery. The core of the exhibition is a new series of black-soap-and-wax-on-tile portraits that Johnson calls his “anxious men.” Executed by digging into a waxy surface, they enact a kind of drawing through erasure and represent the first time Johnson has worked figuratively outside of photography or film, and on such a small scale. Whereas Johnson’s previous work has taken a more cerebral approach to questions of race and political identity, the drawn portraits confront the viewer with a visceral immediacy. The portraits will be set within a multi-sensory environment that includes wallpaper featuring a photograph of the artist’s father from the year Johnson was born, and an audio sound track comprised of Melvin Van Peebles’s “Love, That’s America,” a song that originally appeared in Peebles’s 1970 film Watermelon Man and that was recently pressed into service by the Occupy Wall Street movement. In this way, the exhibition will create an immersive space that implicates not only the artist but also the viewer in its interrogation of selfhood and identity.
Curated by Claire Gilman, Senior Curator.
Lead support for Rashid Johnson: Anxious Men is provided by Joseph G. Mizzi. Additional support is provided by Jeffrey A. Hirsch, John and Amy Phelan, Erica Samuels, and Melva Bucksbaum and Raymond J. Learsy. Special thanks to Hauser and Wirth.
Image: Rashid Johnson, Untitled Anxious Men, 2015. White ceramic tile, black soap, wax, 73 x 47 x 2 inches, © Rashid Johnson, Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo by Martin Parsekian.
Open Sessions 5
Open Sessions continues with artist directed group exhibitions. Open Sessions 5 will present reliefs, recordings, and imprints of exchange that examine how personal language relates to public discourses, and the artist’s drive to “do art” at any cost. This exhibition will feature the work of Lauren Bakst, Jimbo Blachly, Daniel Lichtman, Yuri Masnyj, Laura Morrison, Catya Plate, Sarada Rauch, and Alfred Steiner. Organized by the artists and Nova Benway and Lisa Sigal, Curators of the Open Sessions program.
Lauren Bakst’s work takes the form of choreography, performance, video, and writing, exploring questions about subjectivity, affect, memory, and history. Jimbo Blachly’s drawings, paintings, sculptures, and installations combine art historical and literary references filtered through humor and daily experience. Using such formats as the webcast, lecture, and sermon, Daniel Lichtman’s work explores the interrelations between belief, gender, and intimacy. Yuri Masnyj makes drawings and sculptures that investigate how the self is registered in our compulsion to collect, compose, and display objects. Laura Morrison thinks of her work as publishing. In writing and gallery-based forms, she examines the awkward clashes between what it means to be vulnerable and what it means to be accountable. Catya Plate uses sculpture, drawing, and animated film to explore how the creation of a new mythology may help address contemporary manifestations of anxiety and angst. Combining video, animation, and object making, Sarada Rauch’s work explores how contemporary technologies of image-making reimagine historical narrative forms. And Alfred Steiner’s work in drawing, sculpture, and watercolor questions the relationship between artistic technique and authenticity, contrivance, and artifice.
Organized by the artists and Nova Benway and Lisa Sigal, Curators of the Open Sessions program.
Image: Catya Plate, Seeing It Through, detail, 2015. Foam core, paper, wood, aqua resin, LED lights, batteries, acrylic paint, thread, fabric, 23 x 23 x 6 ½ inches. Courtesy of the artist.
Abdelkader Benchamma: Representation of Dark Matter
Further activating The Drawing Center's newly designed exhibition spaces, each year an artist will be invited to create a wall drawing in the gallery’s main entryway and stairwell. The Center continues this initiative in April 2015 with a commission by contemporary artist Abdelkader Benchamma (b. 1975, Mazamet, France).
For his first U.S. museum presentation, Abdelkader Benchamma will create an astronomical vortex in the strikingly graphic large-scale drawing, Representation of Dark Matter, 2015. Comprised of a series of linear abstractions and nebulous, inkblot forms the work is a highly articulated depiction of the complexity of the solar system and its nearly imperceptible dark matter. The image’s swirling masses of lines are intricately rendered to resemble scientific illustrations of the Big Bang and explosive cosmic forces. Benchamma’s monochromatic use of such drawing tools as black felt-tip pens, India ink, and charcoal against the gallery wall’s pristine surface will result in a subtle array of tones and textures that straddles the boundaries between figuration and abstraction. As an occult mapping of time and space, this immersive installation gives form to that which is infinitely large and perpetually transforming.
Curated by Joanna Kleinberg Romanow, Adjunct Assistant Curator.
Abdelkader Benchamma: Representation of Dark Matter is made possible by the support of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde, Dubai and galerie du jour agnes b., Paris.
Studio 360 radio on "How Do You Draw Dark Matter".
Image: Abdelkader Benchamma, Representation of Dark Matter, 2015, Mixed media, Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde, Dubai and galerie du jour agnes b., Paris. (Installation photo by Jose Andres Ramirez.)
Rachel Goodyear: Restless Guests
UK-based artist Rachel Goodyear will present a selection of drawings and hand-drawn animations in The Lab corridor. The animated works loop seamlessly, unfolding a narrative that never fully coheres, while the drawings - inspired by found sources, Goodyear's own photographs, and studies of invented scenarios - evoke a sense of drifting in and out of focus and consciousness.
Curated by Jessica Man, Curatorial Assistant.
Rachel Goodyear: Restless Guests is made possible by the support of Pippy Houldsworth Gallery.
Image: Rachel Goodyear, Afternoon, 2011, Pencil and watercolor on paper, framed, 23 3/5 x 16 1/2 inches (60 x 42 cm). Courtesy Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, Copyright the artist.
James Sheehan: Death of Malevich
To activate The Drawing Center’s newly designed galleries, the institution’s curators have invited artists to create long-term drawing-based installations in atypical locations around the facility. The first project is James Sheehan’s Death of Malevich (2013). Sheehan’s postage-stamp-size watercolor on board is inserted directly into one of the walls of The Lab corridor, creating a keyhole effect that voyeuristically transports the viewer into another realm. His infinitesimal image Death of Malevich derives from a photograph of famed Russian Suprematist painter Kazimir Malevich lying in state, surrounded by his artworks. Sheehan’s exploration of the relationship between distance and scale results in a scene that appears legible from afar, but that gradually dissolves on approach—even as the work’s recessed installation (and the placement of the painter’s acclaimed Black Square, 1915, directly above the dead man’s head) draw the viewer in. This work was also featured in our recent exhibition Small..
James Sheehan, Death of Malevich, 2013, Watercolor on rag board, inserted into wall, 7/8 x 1 inch. Courtesy of the artist.