News Column

Minneapolis Institute of Arts bringing its 100 top drawings out of storage

July 11, 2014

By Amy Carlson Gustafson, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.



July 11--The latest Minneapolis Institute of Arts exhibit is giving folks a rare chance to see some of the museum's most important drawings -- out in the light.

"Marks of Genius: 100 Extraordinary Drawings" highlights the MIA's impressive collection of drawings that includes more than 2,600 works, up 20 percent in the past five years. It's also a collection that spends a lot of time in the dark with works exhibited for only short periods due to their sensitivity to light.

"They'll only be up for 10 weeks here then go straight to Grand Rapids, Mich., for another short exhibition term," said exhibit curator Rachel McGarry. "Then they'll come back here for dark storage, and they'll rest for a year, and then they'll go out again to Raleigh, N.

C. After the tour, they'll go back again in dark storage for a long time. It's a special opportunity to see all these things exhibited together. The museum has never shown this many significant drawings together."

Among the artists featured in "Marks of Genius" are Ludovico Carracci, Thomas Gainsborough, Eugene Delacroix, Edgar Degas, Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Rene Magritte and Georgia O'Keeffe. One of McGarry's favorite pieces is 17th century Italian painter Guercino's (born Giovanni Francesco Barbieri) "Hercules" (1641-42), a pen and brown ink drawing the museum purchased last year.

"It's a small drawing, but it has incredible punch," she said. "It is amazing. He's one of the most celebrated draftsmen of the 17th century. He's now as equally celebrated for his drawings as he is his paintings, but in his lifetime he really hoarded his drawings. They were a private endeavor -- something he didn't market or sell. When he died there were some 2,200 drawings in his estate.

"This is why I love drawings so much," she continued. "Sometimes you're able to see works of art the artists are producing for themselves especially in 16th or 17th century. If they're doing a big religious picture or a portrait, the patron is really involved with what that painting is going to look like.

The drawings are where you see artists working on an idea or problem solving or just having fun. I love that Guercino kept his drawings for himself."

The show, which includes works ranging in size from a playing card to a garage door, spans 600 years and is broken up into thematic sections including the artist as observer, storytelling and abstraction. McGarry points out two specific works she believes will have folks talking -- Schiele's "Standing Girl" (1908-1909) and Emil Nolde's "Heavy Seas at Sunset" (1930-1935).

"When we put it on the a-frame cart to bring it to the gallery, we were rolling it past visitors in the museum and everybody stopped in their tracks to look at her," said McGarry about "Standing Girl," which is more than 4 feet tall. "What I love about it is it's a staggering work of art -- Schiele's able to transform a brown piece of paper into a masterpiece."

McGarry said the watercolor "Heavy Seas at Sunset" is also mesmerizing.

"It's just so fresh -- you can stare at it for a long time because of the colors and the incredible technique," she said. "The way the artist uses the white of the paper to describe the foam of the sea and the multiple shades of blues and greens and then this wonderful orange. When you look at it, you're inspired to try watercolors and then when you try watercolors you say, 'Oh my god, how in the world did he do this?' "

Visitors will get to try their hands at drawing if they choose. In the last gallery of the exhibit there'll be a drawing studio for guests.

Every Thursday evening artists will present informal drawing demonstrations, gallery talks and instruction during "The Artist Is In" program.

McGarry also points out that visitors who like what they see in "Marks of Genius" can access nearly all of the MIA's more than 40,000 prints and drawings.

"You can always come to visit these drawings," she said. "This is one of the best-kept secrets in town: We have a Print Study Room and it's open Tuesday through Friday. Anyone can make an appointment and request to see whatever works they want to see in the collection on paper."

What: "Marks of Genius: 100 Extraordinary Drawings"

If you go

When: July 13 through Sept. 21

Where: Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2400 Third Ave., Mpls.

Cost: $13 weekdays and $15 weekends; free on "Family Day"/opening day Sunday, July 13

Info: 612-870-3000 or artsmia.org

Amy Carlson Gustafson can be reached at 651-228-5561. Follow her at twitter.com/amygustafson.

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(c)2014 the Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.)

Visit the Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.) at www.twincities.com

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Source: Saint Paul Pioneer Press (MN)


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