By Any Means: Contemporary Drawings from the Morgan at The Morgan Library & Museum, January 18 – May 12, 2019

A new exhibition of contemporary drawings from the Morgan’s collection asks, what can drawing do? For many artists, drawing represents an attitude of experimentation and open-endedness more than a devotion to specific materials or techniques. By Any Means: Contemporary Drawings from the Morgan presents twenty-four innovative works on paper, including many recent acquisitions, by artists such as John Cage, Sol LeWitt, Vera Molnar, Robert Rauschenberg, Betye Saar, Gavin Turk, and Jack Whitten. The show presents works from the 1950s to today by artists who have absorbed and built upon the legacy of their Cubist, Futurist, Dada, and Surrealist predecessors. 

Drawing has traditionally been valued as an expression of the singular hand of the artist. But many of the works in this exhibition were not produced ‘by hand’ in any conventional sense. Instead, these artists have pursued drawing by any means, whether by pouring, pressing, rolling, rubbing, folding, pasting, printing, plotting, or pushing. Embracing the contingencies of chance, they have worked in collaboration with cars, trains, gravity, sound, and time.” — The Morgan Library & Museum

Jack Whitten (1939-2018), Dispersal ‘A’ #2, 1971. Dry pigment and Rhoplex AC-33 on paper. The Morgan Library & Museum, 2018.30; Gift of the Modern & Contemporary Collectors Committee, 2018. Courtesy The Estate of Jack Whitten and Hauser & Wirth. Photography by Janny Chiu.

Betye Saar (b. 1926), A Secretary to the Spirits (from the series A Secretary to the Spirits [for Ishmael Reed]), 1975. Collage of cut printed papers and fabrics, with matte and metallic paint and ink stamps on laminated paperboard. The Morgan Library & Museum, 2017.306:1 ; Gift of the Modern and Contemporary Collectors Committee, 2017. Courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, California. Photography by Robert Wedemeyer.

Stephen Vitiello (b. 1964), Speaker Drawing (22.06) , 2006, Pigment and spray fixative. The Morgan Library & Museum, 2012.41; Gift of an anonymous donor. Courtesy of the artist. Photography by Steven H. Crossot.

Gavin Turk (b. 1967), Rosette, 2013, exhaust emission on paper, mounted on linen. The Morgan Library & Museum, 2013.10; Gift of Monaghan. Image courtesy of Gavin Turk.

“These drawings expand on a long, rich history of artistic experimentation, but offer their own playful and distinctive approaches,” said Colin B. Bailey, director of the museum. “By Any Means allows visitors to experience our evolving and growing collection of contemporary works. We are proud to present this multifaceted selection of innovative drawings, which provides an introduction to some of the most dynamic contemporary practices on paper.” 

“Throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first, drawing has been one of the most fertile arenas of artistic experimentation,” said Rachel Federman, assistant curator of Modern and Contemporary Drawings and the exhibition’s organizer. “By Any Means offers a focused look at a range of innovation that has occurred over the past sixty years.” 

 Images courtesy The Morgan Library & Museum.