The Primacy of Paper
Drawings and prints often function as key components of an artist’s practice, and in recent years, works on paper have come to challenge the primacy of painting and sculpture. The works on paper in this gallery, intended to complement the exhibition Pat Steir: Drawing Out of Line (on view February 19 through July 3 in the Chace Center gallery), share several recurrent themes that resonate with Steir’s artistic exploration, despite their varied conceptual underpinnings.
The relationship of words to images frames the work of Sol LeWitt, Edward Ruscha, and Ann Hamilton, raising questions about the difference in meaning between writing and drawing. Do words and images express substance in the same way, or do words as imagery or in combination with imagery convey something that neither could do on their own? While these works challenge conventional categories of making and knowing, other works on view question the limits of knowledge and of representation by highlighting the fine line between order and chaos. Dorothea Rockburne, Kathy Prendergast, and John Morris explore ordering systems, including mapping, geometry, and economics, both as fearful constraints and as tools that allow us to better understand the world. Finally, Jennifer Bartlett, Shahzia Sikander, Julie Mehretu and Kiki Smith assimilate the language of drawing from a variety of sources including the art-historical, infusing their works with social and personal references. To each of these artists, material concerns—whether the act and process of drawing or the special qualities of paper itself—play an essential role in the creation or open-ended expansion of meaning.