By All Means: Time travel @ The Morgan

Travelling in time and space in just a few steps, from gallery to gallery, at The Morgan; when three fantastic exhibitions ran simultaneously through May 2019.

By any means: Contemporary drawings from The Morgan

Stephen Vitiello (American, b. 1964)
Speaker Drawing (22.06), 2006 – Pigment and spray fixative

This work is part of a series in which Vitiello explored the relationship between sound – his primary medium – and drawing. He placed pigment in a speaker that was embedded in a table, laying a sheet of paper on top. Vibrations from a synthesizer’s low-frequency oscillator moved the pigment from the speaker to the paper, creating an image that contrasted in its minimalism with the density of the aural event.

Sol LeWitt (American, 1928-2007)
Untitled (folded paper drawing), 1971

John Cage (American, 1912-1992)
Where R = Ryoanji (2R)/4-6/83, 1983
Graphite pencil

Cage often relied on chance to determine the forms of his works. The present sheet belongs to a series inspired by the Zen rock garden of the Ryoanji Temple in Kyoto, in which fifteen rocks are carefully arranged. The selection of stones, the number of tracings (here 30, as denoted by 2R, where R is equivalent to 15, the number of stones at the temple), their placement, and the number of pencils of different softness that he used (4) were determined by the I Ching, an ancient Chinese divination manual, by way of a computer simulation developed by Bell Labs in New York.

Marsha Cottrell (American, b. 1964)
Old Museum (Interior_7), 2015
Laser toner

Although Cottrell uses a computer to make her work, she does not use a computer programme to determine composition but instead passes Japanese paper through a printer numerous times, each time changing or rearranging the shapes on the screen to generate dense, layered images.

Invention and Design: Early Italian Drawings

After Girolamo Mocetto (ca. 1458-after 1531)
Metamorphosis of the Nymph Amymone, ca. 1500
Brush and brown, green-brown, and blue wash, pen and green-brown ink, and white opaque watercolour, over black chalk, on paper

Vittore Carpaccio (1460/66-1525/26)
Head of a Young Man, in Profile to the Right, 1490-1500
Black chalk, brown wash, and white opaque watercolour, on blue paper

Antonio Allegri, known as Correggio (ca. 1489-1534)
Head of a Woman Crying Out, ca. 1509-11
Charcoal and black and white chalk, on two pieces of light brown paper joined vertically

Timoteo Viti (1469-1523)
Head of a Woman in Profile to the Right, ca. 1515
Black and white chalk, on two pieces of paper joined vertically; incised with stylus

Bartolomeo Cincani, known as Bartolomeo Montagna (1447/50-1523)
Nude Man Standing Beside a High Pedestal, ca. 1515
Brush and black ink and brown wash, heightened with white opaque watercolour, over traces of black chalk, on blue paper faded to brown

Attributed to Francesco Bonsignori (1455/60-1519)
Head of a Man Wearing a Cap, in Profile to the Left, ca. 1490-1500
Red, black, and white chalk

Lorenzo di Credi (ca. 1456-1536)
Head of a Young Man, Turned to the Left, Looking Downward, ca. 1490
Metalpoint, with white opaque watercolour, on pink prepared paper

Giovanni Agostino da Lodi (active ca. 1467-ca. 1524)
Head of a Bearded Man in Profile to the Right and Head of a Youth Facing Left, ca. 1500
Red chalk

Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth

J.R.R. Tolkien
The Tree of Amalion, [?1940s] – Coloured pencil, watercolour, silver paint, black in on grey paper
MS. Tolkien Drawings 88, fol. 1

”He was the sort of painter who can paint leaves better than trees. He used to spend a long time on a single leaf, trying to catch its shape, and its sheen, and the glistening of dewdrops on its edges. Yet he wanted to paint a whole tree, with all of its leaves in the same style, and all of them different.”

This extract from Tolkien’s allegorical short story, ”Leaf by Niggle”, is a poignant expression of his own creative struggle as he sought to bring his works, both literary and academic, to completion. The story was written in the early 1940s as he worked fitfully on The Lord of the Rings, his Elvish languages and his wider legendarium, all of which seemed very far from completion. His perfectionism often resulted in numerous revisions and rewritings, whilst his interest in the minutiae led him down interesting but distracting side roads.

The only snapshot I could steal; so long were the lines, the guards had to usher Tolkien’s devotees, or the gallery would burst from overcrowding!

The Morgan Library

March 9th, 2019


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