It's not often that drawings ranging from Raphael to Rembrandt to Ruscha, yes, that's Ed Ruscha of L.A., could be found hanging together, at least not at the Pierpont Morgan Library. But lately, the Old Masters have settled in agreeably with modern ones.
"Master Drawings from the Cleveland Museum of Art," is the Library's second foray in presenting works from deep in the 20th century. This stunning selection of 120 sheets sweeps, or rather bounces along, from the Renaissance through the modern era.
One touchstone for the show is Raphael's sweet sheet of three studies of a baby, a child's head, and a seated female from around 1508 executed in silverpoint on pink paper. It looks backward to a metalpoint of St. Sebastian (ca. 1493) by Raphael's teacher Perugino and forward to a Study for the Head of St. Michael (1633) in black chalk by Pietro de Cortona.
At about the same time that Raphael was at work, Michelangelo was drawing his double-sided red chalk studies of the male form, possibly for ignudi in the Sistine Chapel. This vigorous, muscular male nude finds echoes in Baccio Bandinelli's red chalk study of the ignudi (ca. 1516-20) to Annibale Carracci's black chalk Hercules Resting (1595-97) amid others in the exhibition.
Raphael's refinement and Michelangelo's tactility meet in Albrecht Dürer's black and gray wash, the Arm of Eve (1507), holding a fruit not nearly as sensual as the appendage that supports it.
The German selection here seems especially rich. In Albrecht Altdorfer's Salome with the Head of John the Baptist (ca. 1517) in ink and white gouache on brown paper, the Baptist's fury of curls meets its match in the wildly cascading ringlets of Salome, the agitated lines of her plumed headdress and extravagant dress.
The Italian and French sections are the most numerous until the final international modern area arrives (all works arbitrarily dating from 1901 onward). Yet all three Spanish works -- a de Ribera, Murillo and Goya, and the two Dutch works, both Rembrandts, shine. Handsome clutches of Flemish, British, and American sheets provide something for everyone even before the present day.
Egon Schiele's Portrait of a Child (Anton Peschka Jr.) with his ruddy cheeks and multi-colored wrap, Charles Demuth's sexy sailors (1917), Paul Klee's mask-like God of War in glowing red and gold (1937) and Franz Kline's Black and White in oil from 1954 are stand-outs, but not by much. There are plenty of interesting things here.
One rediscovery deserves special mention, the female artist Giovanna Garzoni (1600-1670) who worked in Rome and probably France and England, too. Still lifes of scientific accuracy were her main output. Her watercolor with graphite on vellum Still Life with Birds and Fruit from around 1650 looks to me like it was made with stencils, like a theorem painting by an American schoolgirl. The rapid shifts in scale are modulated by the exactitude of the coloring. It's a memorable piece, but only one of many in this show.
Diane De Grazia, Clara T. Rankin, Chief Curator, and Carter E. Foster, Associate Curator of Drawings of the Cleveland Museum, where the show was previously presented, organized the exhibition.
"Master Drawings from the Cleveland Museum of Art," through August 19, at the Pierpont Morgan Library, 29 East 36th Street.
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For drawings from 19th-century Europe that you can actually buy and savor at home, try Jan Krugier Gallery's "From Turner to Cezanne: Works on Paper." The more than 50 examples are primarily French and English with a smattering of Germanic pieces.
Two small highly finished watercolors by Théodore Géricault from around 1820, relating to the story of The Raft of the Medusa, would have been enough to make me happy. But there's also one of Ingres' pencil portrait studies Portrait de Mlle Raoul-Rochette from 1834. It's hard to believe he could turn them out in an hour or two.
A splashy india ink Pont et cháteau en ruines (1868) by Victor Hugo could not be more dramatic. Well, maybe. An ethereal and very abstract Cháteau en France (ca. 1839-40) by J.M.W. Turner in watercolor and ink presents an arch with turrets just visible amid a few lines and swathes of color.
With works starting at $10,000 and going to $600,000, be prepared to hear a figure closer to the latter for the Turner and for an equally brilliant Degas charcoal of a ballet dancer Etude de danseuse from around 1880.
With four Degas, five Delacroix, five Cezannes, a sensational Seurat, plus three small Rodin bronzes to round out the show, the exhibit's a must-see.
"From Turner to Cezanne: Works on Paper," through July 26, at Jan Krugier Gallery, 41 East 57th Street.
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While including all sorts of things besides drawings, "Côte d'Azur: Art, Modernity and the Myth of the French Riviera" contains many noteworthy ones. The show is a celebration of place and the art it inspired. NYU professor Dr. Kenneth E. Silver pulled together this delightful and thoughtful exhibition for the AXA Gallery.
Professor Silver charts the discovery of the Riviera by Renoir and Monet and how Neo-Impressionist Henri Cross encouraged Paul Signac to try out St.-Tropez and how Signac invited Matisse to visit and how ... Don't miss a postcard from Picasso to Jean Cocteau with a sketch of the sea through a window, the kind of thing Matisse was already turning out from his hotel window in Nice.
Picasso's pastel of Three Bathers, Juan-les-Pins from 1920 shows classical nudes translated into the 20th century. If you are not ready to leave immediately, a large, lush oil depicting Pierre Bonnard's home above Cannes, The Palm, Le Cannet (1926), will do the trick.
A wall of Jacques Henri Lartigue's photographs of family and friends cavorting in the sun, like his Mediterranean (1927), make it seem like the sun was always shining. Gerald Murphy and his wife at their Villa America were famed for their hospitality, remembered here by one of his all-too-few idiosyncratic Cubist paintings The Cocktail (1927).
After WWII, the Riviera reemerged as a sun-filled hangout for the older moderns and newer artists, too. A David Hockney painting of a Pool and Steps, Le Nid du Duc (1971) resonates with the pools in a diptych by Jennifer Barlett In the Garden #105, a drawing from 1982-83. The show ends with a Jane Kaplowitz acrylic of To Catch a Thief, from 2000. It immortalizes the film and its locale at once.
"Côte d'Azur: Art, Modernity and the Myth of the French Riviera," through July 14, at AXA Gallery, 787 Seventh Avenue.
N. F. KARLINS is a New York art historian and critic.