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 (1961) and Moon Man (1966). 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 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.
Tomi Ungerer: All in One is made possible by the support of Phaidon Press, Lisa Silver and Jean Castelli, an anonymous gift in honor of Frances Beatty Adler, the Maurice Sendak Foundation, Electricité de Strasbourg, HarperCollins, Dominque Formhals, Fiona and Eric Rudin, the French Embassy, and L’école des Loisirs.
Special thanks to the Musée Tomi Ungerer-Centre international de l'illustration
Image: Tomi Ungerer, Untitled, 1961 (drawing for The Three Robbers). Collage of cut paper, gouache, and marker on paper, 11 3/4 x 9 1/4 inches. Copyright (c) Tomi Ungerer / Diogenes Verlag AG Zurich, Switzerland. All rights reserved.
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 basement 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..
In April 2015, artist Abdelkader Benchamma will install Representation of Dark Matter, a large-scale graphic wall drawing representing an astrological vortex, in the double-height lobby stairway. This piece will be on view for one year.
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 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.
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
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).
Open Sessions 3
Open Sessions continues with artist-directed group exhibitions and public programs.
With artists Zach Rockhill, Steffani Jemison, Jina Valentine, Annette Cords, Nyeema Morgan,Ernesto Caivano, and Becky Brown.
Image: Yara Pina, Untitled 4, 2012. Charred frame destruction. Courtesy of the artist, photo by Glayson Arcanjo.
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.