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MAIN GALLERY Sep 19, 2014 - Dec 14, 2014

Thread Lines

Sheila Hicks, //Punched Notations//, 2012. Paper and synthetic yarn, 9 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches. 
Andrea and José Olympio Pereira Collection. Sheila Hicks, //Punched Notations//, 2012. Paper and synthetic yarn, 9 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches. 
Andrea and José Olympio Pereira Collection. Sheila Hicks, //Punched Notations//, 2012. Paper and synthetic yarn, 9 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches. 
Andrea and José Olympio Pereira Collection.

Sheila Hicks, Punched Notations, 2012. Paper and synthetic yarn, 9 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches.
Andrea and José Olympio Pereira Collection.

This group exhibition disabuses the idea that drawing is simply putting pen to paper, framing it instead as an open-ended act in which lines can be woven, stitched, knit, even embodied. Featuring sixteen contemporary artists who use textile in a variety of formats (embroidery, weaving, collage, and performance), the exhibition highlights the expressive and conceptual possibilities of line, with an emphasis on its making. The works selected invoke many characteristics long associated with the drawn medium; however, the application of textile brings forth a new hybridity in which the objects created, using the techniques and materials drawn from craft, result in lines detached from the picture plane, lines read on an unprecedentedly large scale, and lines that extend into real space—a collective, social space. For some artists, the line functions as a direct extension of the body—a performative act or participatory event. Others work in abstraction; still others use the line as a means of addressing gender, personal narrative, and politics. While this exhibition is necessarily limited in scope, it reflects a widespread tendency that has developed over decades and continues to propel the drawn medium forward.

Curated by Joanna Kleinberg Romanow, Assistant Curator.

List of Participating Artists: Mónica Bengoa (b. 1969, Santiago, Chile), Louise Bourgeois (b. 1911, Paris, France- d. 2010, New York, NY), Sheila Hicks (b. 1934, Hastings, NE), Ellen Lesperance (b. 1971, Minneapolis, MN), Kimsooja (b. 1957, Taegu, Korea), Beryl Korot (b. 1945, New York, NY), Maria Lai (b. 1919, Ulassai, Sardinia- d. 2013, Cardedu, Sardinia), Sam Moyer (b. 1983, Chicago, IL), William J. O'Brien (b. 1975, Eastlake, OH), Robert Otto Epstein (b. 1979, Pittsburgh, PA), Jessica Rankin (b. 1971, Sydney, Australia), Elaine Reichek (b. 1943, New York, NY), Drew Shiflett (b. 1951, Chicago, IL), Alan Shields (b. 1944, Herington, KS- d. 2005, Shelter Island, NY), Lenore Tawney (b. 1907, Lorain, OH- d. 2007, New York, NY), and Anne Wilson (b. 1949, Detroit, MI).

Thread Lines is made possible by the support of Richloom Fabrics Group, Fiona and Eric Rudin, Daniel Romanow, The Capital Group, the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation, Ambach & Rice, and Lesley Heller.

Image: Sheila Hicks, Punched Notations, 2012. Paper and synthetic yarn, 9 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches. Andrea and José Olympio Pereira Collection.

DRAWING ROOM Sep 19, 2014 - Dec 14, 2014

Xanti Schawinsky: Head Drawings and Faces of War

Xanti Schawinsky, //L'Agressore (Faces of War), signed on front lower right corner: "Xanti 1942//", 1942. 
Mixed media, watercolor and pen, 73.7 x 54.2 cm (29" x 21 3/8"). Unique, Courtesy of The Estate of Xanti Schawinsky. Xanti Schawinsky, //L'Agressore (Faces of War), signed on front lower right corner: "Xanti 1942//", 1942. 
Mixed media, watercolor and pen, 73.7 x 54.2 cm (29" x 21 3/8"). Unique, Courtesy of The Estate of Xanti Schawinsky. Xanti Schawinsky, //L'Agressore (Faces of War), signed on front lower right corner: "Xanti 1942//", 1942. 
Mixed media, watercolor and pen, 73.7 x 54.2 cm (29" x 21 3/8"). Unique, Courtesy of The Estate of Xanti Schawinsky.

Xanti Schawinsky, L'Agressore (Faces of War), signed on front lower right corner: "Xanti 1942", 1942.
Mixed media, watercolor and pen, 73.7 x 54.2 cm (29" x 21 3/8"). Unique, Courtesy of The Estate of Xanti Schawinsky.

First generation Bauhaus artist Alexander ‘Xanti’ Schawinsky’s prolific oeuvre encompasses a range of social and political investigations. Schawinsky spent a lifetime relocating—from Switzerland to Germany to Italy to the United States—and, in the process, developed his central themes, which include the nature of identity, the responsibility of the individual, and the repercussions of machine warfare. His Bauhaus training is manifested in his work’s complex interpretation of the interrelationship among art, craft, and design, and his practice comprised a number of artistic realms, including avant-garde theater, experimental photography, the Bauhaus Jazz band, mechanical music and dance, and graphic design.

The Drawing Center’s exhibition will focus on Schawinsky’s work on paper from the 1940s, particularly the Head Series and Faces of War. These works, including several “War Heads” and “Theme and Variation on a Face: Walter Gropius,” break from the utopian optimism of the early Bauhaus and its later iterations in the United States. Schawinsky’s 1940s series reveal the existential struggle of an artist informed by Bauhaus idealism coping with the devastation of war. His "faces of war" are man/machine hybrids, at once disturbingly robotic and representative of the threat of human self-destruction. These images have been interpreted as depicting either an aggressive enemy or a powerful avenger; perhaps, they bespeak an identity that encompasses both.

Curated by Brett Littman, Executive Director.

Xanti Schawinsky: Head Drawings and Faces of War is made possible by the support of The Kind World Foundation, the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, Daniel Schawinsky and the Xanti Schawinsky Estate, and Fiona and Eric Rudin.

Special thanks to Anke Kempkes and BROADWAY 1602.

Image: Xanti Schawinsky, L'Agressore (Faces of War), signed on front lower right corner: "Xanti 1942", 1942. Mixed media, watercolor and pen, 73.7 x 54.2 cm (29" x 21 3/8"). Unique, Courtesy of The Estate of Xanti Schawinsky.

THE LAB Oct 08, 2014 - Nov 16, 2014

Sari Dienes

This exhibition will be the first museum show ever devoted to Sari Dienes. In the early 1950s, Dienes used experimental processes to produce works on paper, impressing onto her pictorial support the gritty and vibrant terrain of New York City’s streets, the silhouettes of construction tools, and the textures of rural landscapes. Armed with an ink roller in lieu of a traditional pen or pencil, Dienes placed drawing at the center of her practice while simultaneously challenging its tenets; she traced the contours of her chosen subjects directly, rather than rendering them by hand from a distance, as would a conventional draughtsman. This radically shifted the emphasis of her drawings from a visual translation of the object to an immediate encounter with the found surface. The fourteen works included in this exhibition were produced between 1953 and 1955, the most intensive period of the artist’s process-based experimentation. These drawings had a profound formal, technical, and iconographic impact on a young generation of artists, including Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. While widely exhibited and well–received at the time of their creation, they—as well as Dienes herself—have been largely forgotten today. This exhibition will highlight her practice and shed new light on her legacy.

Curated by Alexis Lowry Murray and Delia Solomons.

Image: Sari Dienes, Woodblock VI (Artists’ proof Yaddo), 1953. Ink on rice paper, 19 x 18 inches. Courtesy Sari Dienes Foundation, Pomona, NY.

THE LAB Nov 21, 2014 - Dec 14, 2014

Open Sessions 2

Open Sessions continues with artist-directed group exhibitions and public programs.

With artists Joey Fauerso, Tatiana Istomina, Patte Loper, Matt Neff, Mona Sharma, Adam Shecter, Naho Taruishi, and Arturs Virtmanis.

Image: Yara Pina, Untitled 4, 2012. Charred frame destruction. Courtesy of the artist, photo by Glayson Arcanjo.

MAIN GALLERY, DRAWING ROOM, AND THE LAB Jan 09, 2015 - Mar 22, 2015

Tomi Ungerer: All in One

Tomi Ungerer is best known as the award winning author and illustrator of such beloved 1960s children’s classics as The Three Robbers (1963) and Moon Man (1967). But the virtuoso draftsman—who was born in Alsace, France, in 1931, and who currently resides in a remote part of Ireland near Cork—is much more than this. Even as Ungerer was busy producing children’s books for the publisher Harper & Row, he was making a name for himself with witty advertising campaigns for The New York Times and the Village Voice, biting satirical illustrations about the business world, and brutal pictorial responses to racism, fascism, and the Vietnam War. Ungerer also made graphic erotic drawings throughout his career. That Ungerer is not as well known in America today as he is in Europe is largely due to his self-imposed exile c.1970, when he and his wife abruptly abandoned New York and relocated to a farm in Nova Scotia, where Ungerer produced some of his most exquisite drawings to date.

The Drawing Center exhibition is the first, major career retrospective in the United States dedicated to this extraordinary artist. Beginning with his childhood drawings depicting the Nazi invasion of Strasbourg, through his work in New York and Canada, and concluding with Ungerer’s most recent political and satirical campaigns as well as his illustrations for the 2013 children’s book Fog Island, Tomi Ungerer: All in One will re-introduce this wildly creative individual to New York City and the world. The exhibition will occupy the entire Drawing Center, with a spotlight “exhibition” of Ungerer’s erotic drawings in the Drawing Room and animations in the lower-level Lab gallery.

Curated by Claire Gilman, Curator.

Image: Tomi Ungerer, Final art for The Three Robbers, page 5, 1961, Collage of cut paper, gouache, and marker on paper. 11.75 x 9.25 inches, Courtesy of Children’s Literature Collection, Free Library of Philadelphia.

STAIRWELL Mar 01, 2015 - Mar 01, 2016

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 launches this initiative in March 2015 with a commission by contemporary artist Abdelkader Benchamma (b. 1975, Mazamet, France).


Abdelkader Benchamma will create an astrological vortex in his strikingly graphic, site-specific drawing Representation of Dark Matter (2015). Rendered in intensely black lines against the wall’s white surface, the work is a painstaking depiction of the complexity of the solar system and its nearly imperceptible dark matter. The physically expansive image consists of swirling masses of lines that resemble scientific illustrations of the Big Bang and allude to explosive cosmic forces. Benchamma’s monochromatic use of such drawing tools as felt-tip pens, ink, and charcoal create a subtle array of tones and textures. In addition to the highly articulated drawing, the piece comprises a wooden construction adorned with collages from pages of old astronomy encyclopedias, symbolizing the structured scaffolding on which our universe is built. As an occult mapping of time and space, the installation gives form to that which is infinitely large and perpetually transforming.

Curated by Joanna Kleinberg Romanow, Assistant Curator.

Image: Abdelkader Benchamma, Hole and Landscape, 2013. Ink and pen on paper, 21.65 x 17.72 inches.

MAIN GALLERY Apr 10, 2015 - Jun 28, 2015

Portraits from the École des Beaux-Arts Paris

This exhibition explores four hundred years of portrait drawings from live models. Forty-four portraits have been chosen from the collection of Paris's École des Beaux-Arts based on diverse criteria such as the social class and profession of the model, male and female gestures, caricature, and frontal gaze. Each week, a different set of four portraits from different centuries and with different formal qualities will be hung "in dialogue" with each other in a specially-built room located in the center of The Drawing Center’s Main Gallery. The room is inspired by the intimate gallery at the Galleria Doria Pamphilj in Rome where Velazquez’s portrait of Pope Innocent X (c.1649) hangs, which only accommodates a maximum of four visitors at a time and was designed to provide a space for close viewing and contemplation without crowds. The remaining forty portraits in the exhibition will be hung on the gallery's outside walls and will be visible to the visitor throughout the exhibition's run.


The goal of this unique exhibition is to explore the notion of drawn portraiture and to provide alternative readings of this important genre of art making within a contemporary context. The selection of works is extensive, ranging from never-before-exhibited drawings by seventeenth-century luminaries Jean-Auguste-Dominique Inges, Jacques-Louis David, and Charles Garnier to the work of modern and contemporary masters Henri Matisse and Georg Baselitz to portraits by recent graduates of the École des Beaux-Arts.

Co-curated by Emmanuelle Brugerolles, Curator of the Drawings collection at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and Brett Littman, Executive Director of The Drawing Center.

Image: Jacob Ferdinand Voet, Portrait de femme vue de face, 1639-1700, Colored pencil on blue paper. 22.5 X 16 cm

THE DRAWING ROOM Apr 10, 2015 - Jun 28, 2015

Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm

Since completing her M.F.A. at Columbia University in 2006, Natalie Frank has been making a name for herself with energetic, visceral paintings that boldly embrace the liminal space between figuration and abstraction. A virtuoso painter and draftswoman, Frank is unique among her peers in her willingness to employ the traditional mediums of painting and drawing in the service of taboo themes. Focusing on the dialogue between flesh and spirit, the artist explores, in her own words, the parallel poles of “longing and desire but also disgust and fascination” that constitute humanity.


At The Drawing Center, Frank applies her visual and psychological acumen to that most evocative and misunderstood of literary forms, the fairytale—specifically the stories of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. Only a few contemporary artists have worked within the fairytale genre; fewer still have systematically interrogated the complexity of these tales and the way in which they address social and sexual mores that continue to have relevance today. Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm will present a selection of approximately forty drawings out of a total of seventy-five images dealing with thirty-six tales. The drawings will be made in gouache and chalk pastel—the first time that Frank has worked exclusively in this medium—producing both gritty and luminous surface effects. Engaging the intersections between body and mind, reality and fiction, the series can be seen as a contemporary reimagining of a symbolist legacy.

Curated by Claire Gilman, Curator.

Image: Natalie Frank, Cinderella II, 2011-4, Gouache and chalk pastel on paper, 22 x 30 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Rhona Hoffman Gallery (Chicago); ACME (Los Angeles).

THE LAB Apr 10, 2015 - May 15, 2015

Open Sessions 4

Open Sessions continues with artist-directed group exhibitions and public programs.

With artists Amadeo Azar, Daniel Barroca, Youmna Chlala, Onyedika Chuke, Lea Cetera, Alexandra Lerman, Harold Mendez, Marcelo Moscheta, and Ronny Quevedo.

Image: Yara Pina, Untitled 4, 2012. Charred frame destruction. Courtesy of the artist, photo by Glayson Arcanjo.

THE LAB May 29, 2015 - Jun 28, 2015

İnci Eviner

The Drawing Center presents a selection of videos by Turkish artist İnci Eviner, whose work forges a relationship between new-media techniques and traditional Turkish art practices. The repetitive, hypnotically shifting scenes depicted in the artist’s videos address contemporary feminism at the crossroads of the East and West (“the face of the middle-class woman,” as she puts it), while exploring broader historical narratives and notions of the body and performance. Eviner’s complex scenes employ a wide variety of drawing traditions, including engravings, ceramic tile designs, and architectural plans. “For me," the artist says, "drawing is very lively, very necessary." "The line is very conceptual…and at the same time very expressive.”

Curated by Brett Littman, Executive Director.

Image: İnci Eviner. Parliament, 2010, 1080p25 HD video data with stereo, 3 min. Copyright İnci Eviner 2010. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Nev, Istanbul.