National Gallery of Art
A Century of Drawing: Works on Paper from Degas to LeWitt
 
 

 
A Century of Drawing: Works on Paper from Degas to LeWitt, on view at the National Gallery from 18 November 2001 through 7 April 2002, celebrates the extraordinary range and quality of drawings made by artists in the twentieth century. Approximately 140 works, chosen from more than 4,000 examples belonging to or promised to the Gallery, chart the development and refinement of modern art through the century and represent some of the most aesthetically compelling and intellectually intriguing works from the era. A selection of these drawings, arranged roughly in chronological order, is available in this online exhibition.

Artists in the twentieth century made drawings of remarkable variation in both style and content, from the soft-edged iridescence of Edgar Degas to the black-and-white precision of Charles Sheeler; from the unsettling force of Otto Dix to the Zen-like subtlety of Agnes Martin. Innovations such as the collages of Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso not only extended the parameters of what could be called a drawing but also altered the direction of the medium. By sanctioning nontraditional materials such as wallpaper, as well as minimizing the handmade marks on the sheet, Braque and Picasso charted a trend with immense repercussions. Thereafter, artists increasingly tested the limits of the medium. Dada artists made drawings from cut photographs; René Magritte used musical scores; Jean Dubuffet even employed butterfly wings. Robert Rauschenberg transferred images from newspaper and magazine clippings, while in his wall drawings Sol LeWitt eliminated paper altogether and dismissed the notion that an artist's drawing must issue from the hand of its maker. Yet whether artists adhered to traditional modes of expression or transformed them, David Smith's judgment holds true: "Drawings remain the life force of the artist."

1900-1920
1920-1940
1940-1960
1960-1980
1980-2000
 

Introduction | 1900-1920 | 1920-1940 | 1940-1960 | 1960-1980 | 1980-2000 | Related Resources

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