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Dürer to de Kooning: 100 Master Drawings at The Morgan (NYC)

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This fall, The Morgan Library & Museum is hosting an extraordinary exhibition of rarely seen master drawings from the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, Munich, one of Europe’s most distinguished drawings collections. On view October 12, 2012– January 6, 2013, Dürer to de Kooning: 100 Master Drawings from Munich marks the first time such a comprehensive and prestigious selection of works has been lent to a single exhibition. Dürer to de Kooning was conceived in exchange for a show of one hundred drawings that the Morgan sent to Munich in celebration of the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung’s 250th anniversary in 2008. The Morgan’s organizing curators were granted unprecedented access to the Graphische Sammlung’s vast holdings, ultimately choosing one hundred masterworks that represent the breadth, depth, and vitality of the collection.

Johann Friedrich Overbeck (1789–1869) Italia and Germania, 1815–28 Inv. 2001:12 Z © Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München

The exhibition includes drawings by Italian, German, French, Dutch, and Flemish artists of the Renaissance and baroque periods; German draftsmen of the nineteenth century; and an international contingent of modern and contemporary draftsmen. Dürer to de Kooning will occupy the Morgan’s two principal galleries. One gallery will contain more than sixty Italian, German, Dutch, and French drawings of the fifteenth through nineteenth centuries. Represented here will be such celebrated artists as Mantegna, Michelangelo, Pontormo, Raphael, Titian, Dürer, Rubens, Rembrandt, Bellange, and Friedrich. The second gallery features nearly forty late-nineteenth century and modern and contemporary works, including drawings by Vincent van Gogh, Emil Nolde, Pablo Picasso, Jean Dubuffet, David Hockney, Georg Baselitz, and Sigmar Polke.


Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880–1938) Nude Girl in an Interior, ca. 1910 Inv. 1978:1 Z © Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München

ITALY

The Staaliche Graphische Sammlung is home to some 3,500 Italian drawings. The collection’s strength is sixteenth-century drawings by the most celebrated artists of the period: Leonardo da Vinci, Fra Bartolommeo, Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, Tintoretto, and Pontormo, all of whom are represented in the exhibition. Sheets by Benvenuto Cellini, Annibale Carracci, and Pietro da Cortona are also of particular note.

Highlights

Jacopo Pontormo (1494–1557) Two Standing Women, after 1530(?)

An outstanding example of Pontormo’s Mannerist style, this drawing is remarkable for its dynamism. It may be preparatory for one of the artist’s enigmatic depictions of the Visitation, envisioning the meeting of the pregnant Virgin Mary with her cousin Elizabeth. The abstraction of form, bold linearity, and tension between the figures contribute to the powerful appeal of this sheet.

Andrea Mantegna (1431–1506) Dancing Muse, ca. 1495

Recognized in his lifetime as the leading painter in Italy, Mantegna spent the latter part of his career working for the Gonzaga court in Mantua. This is likely the final study for one of the main figures in Mantegna’s Parnassus in the ducal palace of Mantua. It is especially notable for the artist’s masterful handling of the folds in the muse’s clothing. The figure’s face and hairstyle—both rendered in a sculptural style typical of the artist—appear in slightly different form in the finished painting.

Pietro da Cortona (1596–1669) The Age of Bronze: Design for a Mural in the Palazzo Pitti, Florence, ca. 1641

In celebration of his marriage, Ferdinand II de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, commissioned Cortona to decorate Florence’s Palazzo Pitti with frescoes representing the Four Ages of Man, a theme drawn from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. This preparatory study for the Age of Bronze is notable for its lively energy, fluidity of the draftsmanship, and the broad, painterly pools of wash that signal its exploratory and inventive character.

GERMANY

Germany is the school most richly represented in Munich’s graphics collection, and many examples are included in the exhibition. An impressive variety of works is on display, including Hans Burgkmair the Elder’s Christ with the Crown of Thorns, the earliest red chalk drawing by any German artist; a fragment of a highly finished procession scene by Hans Holbein the Younger; window designs by Hans Schäufelin and Jörg Breu the Elder; fresco painter Melchior Steidl’s watercolor design for a monumental ceiling painting; landscapes by Joseph Anton Koch, Caspar David Friedrich, and Carl Rottmann; and a bold graphite-and-charcoal self-portrait by Wilhelm Leibl, a major figure in German art during the second half of the nineteenth century.

Highlights

Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) Portrait of Kaspar Nützel, 1517

Dürer, the most important artist of the German Renaissance, returned to large-format portraiture in 1514 after an absence of more than ten years. This striking portrait of Kaspar Nützel, the artist’s friend and an important Nuremberg diplomat, has a storied provenance; once part of Paulus Praun’s celebrated collection of some ten thousand objects, the drawing was likely purchased by Crown Prince Ludwig, who later became King Ludwig I of Bavaria, in 1809.

Matthias Grünewald (ca. 1470/80–1528) Study of a Woman with Her Head Raised in Prayer

Few drawings by Grünewald survive, but those that do exhibit the haunting quality associated with his work that impressed twentieth-century artists as diverse as Otto Dix and Francis Bacon. This study and another on the reverse of the same sheet have been connected with the figures of the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene on the crucifixion panel of the artist’s Isenheim Altarpiece.

THE NETHERLANDS

Of the Graphische Sammlung’s approximately 1,700 works by artists from the northern and southern Netherlands, fourteen of the finest were selected for the exhibition. Dutch drawings on view include important examples from sixteenth-century artists Hendrick Goltzius, Jacques de Gheyn, and Jan Harmensz Muller; and seventeenth-century drawings by Rembrandt, Ferdinand Bol, and Aelbert Cuyp. Outstanding seventeenth-century Flemish works by Peter Paul Rubens and Jacob Jordaens are also on display.

Highlights

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (1606–1669) Saskia Lying in Bed, a Woman Sitting at Her Feet, ca. 1638

The exhibition includes three works from Munich’s collection of drawings by Rembrandt. The bedridden woman in this study, the most personal by the artist that is on view in the show, is most likely his wife Saskia, who was often ill or sapped of energy by her four pregnancies. Saskia’s precisely observed likeness, rendered by a fine pen, is juxtaposed to that of her maid in the foreground, whose figure was added in a rather cursory fashion with broad strokes of the brush. The contrast between these two drawing techniques sharpens the focus of the composition on Saskia’s pensive face.

Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) Study for the Equestrian Portrait of the Duke of Lerma, 1603

Rubens was just beginning his career when he completed this study for a larger-than-life equestrian portrait of the Duke of Lerma, commander-in-chief of the Spanish cavalry. The artist invested significant time and effort in perfecting the details of this, his largest known drawing, which is vividly worked with pen and brush. The resulting dynamic new approach to equestrian portraits would soon inspire imitations by the artist’s many followers.

FRANCE

Dürer to de Kooning features five examples from Munich’s select but impressive group of French drawings. On view is a stylistically diverse group of drawings by Antoine Caron, Jacques Bellange, Simon Vouet, and Laurent de la Hyre.

Highlights

Simon Vouet (1590–1649) Man Bending Over in Three-Quarter View, Two Heads with Turbans, ca. 1636

This luminous drawing likely served as preparation for one of Vouet’s most ambitious and lauded fresco commissions. Depicting the Adoration of the Magi, the frescoes adorned the chapel of the Hôtel Séguier, the private residence of Pierre Séguier, chancellor of France under Louis XIII and a preeminent patron of the arts. The chapel, now destroyed, was described by the eighteenth-century collector Dézallier d’Argenville as meriting “the attention of connoisseurs [because of] the beauty of his paintings and…the clarity of its gilding as fresh as if they were newly painted.”

Jacques Bellange (before 1575–1616) Adoration of the Magi, ca. 1610

Bellange is best known as a printmaker, although a small group of elegant Mannerist drawings reveal his talents as a draftsman. He used quick long lines in this first conceptual sketch for his largest etching, Adoration of the Magi. This work is remarkable for its bold approach to the composition and its exceptionally free handling, which exhibits a powerful use of line comparable to that later used in the etching.

MODERN

The Graphische Sammlung has become a top-ranking museum for modern European and American drawings and its holdings in this field now number some 7,000 sheets. Dürer to de Kooning includes twenty-six outstanding works by Vincent van Gogh, Franz Marc, Emil Nolde, Erich Heckel, Pablo Picasso, Max Beckmann, Sigmar Polke, Georg Baselitz, Jean Dubuffet, and David Hockney, among many others.

Highlights

Willem de Kooning (1904–1997) Standing Man, ca. 1951

The mask-like face of the figure in this study became one of the hallmarks of de Kooning’s Woman series, which laid the groundwork for a style—essentially a synthesis of abstraction and figuration—that revolutionized abstract art. The stylized ribs of the figure in this drawing were to reappear later in the artist’s crucifixion scenes of the early 1950s.


A. R. Penck (Ralf Winkler) (b. 1939) I and the Cosmos (Figure with Starry Sky), 1968

Penck was born in what became the German Democratic Republic, and remained behind the Iron Curtain until 1980. In order to elude the authorities and exhibit internationally, the largely self-taught artist—who was born Ralf Winkler—took on various aliases, the first and most lasting being A. R. Penck. In this striking sheet, a dramatically simplified solitary figure, identified in the title as the artist himself, faces a starry sky. The combination of red and black holds political connotations for its associations with anarchism and socialism.

ABOUT THE STAALICHE GRAPHISCHE SAMMLUNG

The Staaliche Graphische Sammlung houses roughly 400,000 works covering the entire spectrum of drawing. Although the origins of the collection likely date to the sixteenth century, its documented history begins with Elector Carl Theodor (1724–1799) of the Palatinate who commissioned the creation of a kabinett of copperplate engravings and drawings for his palace at Mannheim in 1758. This collection, enlarged over time through continual acquisition, was moved to Munich in 1794–5 in order to safeguard it from approaching French revolutionary forces, forming the basis of the Staaliche Graphische Sammlung. The collection opened to the public in 1823 and became an independent museum in 1874.

ARTISTS ON VIEW

Egid Quirin Asam
Hans Baldung Grien
Federico Barocci
Fra Bartolommeo
Georg Baselitz
Johann Wolfgang
Baumgartner
Max Beckmann
Jacques Bellange
Johann Georg Bergmüller
Ferdinand Bol
Jörg the Elder Breu
Hans the Elder Burgkmair
Peter Candid
Antoine Caron
Annibale Carracci
Benvenuto Cellini
Giorgio de Chirico
Lovis Corinth
Pietro da Cortona
Aelbert Cuyp
Leonardo da Vinci
Johann Georg von Dillis
Jean Dubuffet
Albrecht Dürer
Adam Elsheimer
Caspar David Friedrich
Alessandro Galli-Bibiena
Jacques (Jacob) de Gheyn
Domenico Ghirlandaio
Vincent van Gogh
Hendrick Goltzius
George Grosz
Matthias Grünewald
Erich Heckel
Michael Heizer
David Hockney
Hans Holbein the Younger
Wolf Huber
Jacob Jordaens
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Wilhelm von Kobell
Joseph Anton Koch
Käthe Kollwitz
Willem de Kooning
Hans Süss von Kulmbach
Laurent de La Hyre
Wilhelm Leibl
Max Liebermann
Andrea Mantegna
Franz Marc
Hans von Marées
Jacob Matham
Adolph von Menzel
Michelangelo
Jan Harmensz. Muller
Bruce Nauman
Emil Nolde
Barent van Orley
Lelio Orsi
Johann Friedrich Overbeck
Palermo
Jules Pascin
Crispijn de Passe the Elder
A. R. Penck
Luca Penni
Francis Picabia
Pablo Picasso
Sigmar Polke
Antonio del Pollaiuolo
Jacopo Pontormo
Raphael
Arnulf Rainer
Rembrandt
Larry Rivers
Carl Rottmann
Peter Paul Rubens
Hans Schäufelin
Rudolf Schlichter
Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld
Melchior Steidl
Jacopo Tintoretto
Titian
Trometta
Perino del Vaga
Paulus Willemsz. van Vianen
Simon Vouet
Marco Zoppoxx

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