Drawing from the Modern: 1945-1975
Visual art in the period following World War II witnessed landmark transformations. Today, drawing provides a powerful and vigorous device for reexamining the art of that period, and for renewing appreciation of the extraordinary achievements of well-known artists–and for discovering others. Even though the art of these years saw radical departures and shifts, drawing, which is among the most traditional of media, played a crucial and consistent role in the work of a great majority of the most significant artists. Drawing from the Modern, 1945-1975, surveys the drawing of the period through the unparalleled holdings of the drawings collection of The Museum of Modern Art. The postwar period saw the development of Abstract Expressionism in New York, followed by Pop art, Minimal art, and Conceptual art, and the Museum’s collection has exceptional strength in these areas. Abstract drawings by Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Barnett Newman open this volume, followed by works by such key figures as Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly and Cy Twombly. Next, drawings by Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg and Andy Warhol signal the arrival of a new figurative art at the forefront of creativity. But reductive and abstract art kept pace, and the Museum’s collection offers a breathtaking array of drawings by Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Eva Hesse, Sol LeWitt, Brice Marden, Agnes Martin, Richard Serra and numerous others. What constitutes “progress” in art is questioned today, and it is no longer possible to see the development of art as a straight line, with synchronicity among places and geographies. But drawing, by its very nature, encourages established understandings to be examined and accepted values to be reappraised. Many of the artists represented here defy easy categorization, including Lee Bontecou, Louise Bourgeois, Vija Celmins, Bruce Conner, Ray Johnson, Jim Nutt and Myron Stout. The resurgence of European art is represented by drawings by Georg Baselitz, Joseph Beuys, Marcel Broodthaers, Piero Manzoni, Henri Michaux, Mario Merz and Sigmar Polke, among others. A number the most important artists working in Latin America in the postwar period are also represented, including Jorge de la Vega, Gego, León Ferrari, Hélio Oiticica and Mira Schendel. While neither the collection nor this volume is encyclopedic, the spirit and achievements of postwar art are distilled and amply celebrated here.