This Exhibition Has Ended

January 20, 2018
June 10, 2018
In the Moak, Class of 1953, and Schaenen Galleries, Floor 2L

Somewhere between painting and printing lies the draftsman’s craft—the art of creating images with pencil or charcoal, watercolor or pastel. The fascination with drawing is centuries old and is often, for many artists, the starting point of a work, be it painting, sculpture, print, or pottery. Drawings strike an intimate chord, often spontaneous, frequently vivid, and sometimes detailed in a way that catches our breath.

This exhibition highlights the variety of drawings from the Johnson’s permanent collection by European artists from the nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. There are playful sketches, detailed landscapes that can still be identified today, portraits that capture the personality of the sitter, cartoons that lampoon old and young, rich and poor. There are finished drawings, drawings executed as preliminary to another work, and line drawings still fresh with the serrated edges of the sketchbooks they were pulled from.

Museums collect such works for their beauty, their potential as teaching tools, to demonstrate how they relate to the larger body of an artist’s genre, and what they can tell us about the world as a whole, culturally, historically, and artistically. Drawing the Line explores work by some of the best-known artists of this medium: nineteenth-century masters Thomas Rowlandson, Richard Parkes Bonington, Eugène Delacroix, Edward Burne-Jones, Émile Schuffenecker, and the expatriates John Singer Sargent and James Abbott McNeill Whistler, with twentieth-century examples by Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, Egon Schiele, and others.

This exhibition was curated by Nancy E. Green, the Gale and Ira Drukier Curator of European and American Art, Prints & Drawings, 1800–1945, at the Johnson Museum, and is supported in part by the Donald and Maria Cox Exhibition Endowment.