Lines of Thought: Drawing from Michelangelo to Now From the British Museum
Lines of Thought: Drawing from Michelangelo to Now explores the vital role of drawing as a continual and active process of discovery. Seventy works from the British Museum’s world-renowned collection examine the many ways thinking on paper has taken form across continents and centuries, from an ancient Egyptian papyrus to works by such well-known artists as Leonardo da Vinci and Pablo Picasso to artists working today, including William Kentridge and RISD alumna Julie Mehretu. Some works capture a fleeting thought or externalize the germ of an idea; others synthesize an elaborate plan or brainstorm multiple solutions to a problem. The exhibition as a whole investigates the ability of drawing to show the direct and immediate relationship between the artist and their material, and the continuing importance of drawing today.
The exhibition is accompanied by Out of Line, an open studio space for all. Daily prompts, demonstrations, collaborations, and other creative experiments offer hands-on opportunities to use drawing as a tool to imagine, discover, and explore.
Lines of Thought: Drawing from Michelangelo to Now is presented in collaboration with the British Museum. Unless stated, all images and text © The Trustees of the British Museum (2017). All rights reserved. Lead sponsorship for the exhibition is provided by a grant from the Robert Lehman Foundation and an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. Programming support is provided by the Museum Associates, National Grid, Site Specific, and Radical Media with additional support from Sotheby’s and MOO. Lines of Thought was developed and toured the UK with the support of the Bridget Riley Art Foundation.
Throughout history, drawing has remained the ultimate thinking medium. From recording and generating ideas to analyzing, developing, and refining them, drawing constitutes a key conceptual tool at every stage of the artistic process. To borrow a phrase from writer Virginia Woolf, a drawing captures the “likeness of a thought,” rendering visible ideas and decisions that are often eliminated from a finished work. As a method of inquiry, drawing enables a deeper understanding of its object, and through studying drawings and making drawn responses, we can turn this process of reflection back on itself, gaining a greater familiarity with artists’ thoughts and methods. Drawings allow us privileged insights into the process of creation. Invaluable lessons can be learned looking at earlier works in the context of artists working today.