By Vitoria Faria
“Through drawing I feel closer to the artist… [to] our shared humanity” - Richard Gray (1928-2018).
The ongoing exhibition at the Art Institute, the Pure Drawing Collection, is certainly a must-visit for those who are studying art/art history but also for those who are just curious about the art world. Ranging from the 15th to 21st century of Western art, the collection has a very interesting selection of drawings, guaranteeing that in a 1-hour visit you could have a grasp of relevant works of important artists.
Richard Gray, one of the most important art dealers in America, built his name in art galleries in New York and Chicago and has made important donations to the Art Institute’s department of Prints and Drawings. Besides some of the drawings on display being preparatory studies for famous oil on canvas artworks later produced, Richard Gray noted that “pure drawing” is the shortest way for the viewer to be in contact with the artist’s purpose and thoughts.
Therefore, what I think is unique about this temporary exhibition is that for the visitor who doesn’t have much art-historical knowledge and background, this is an incredible opportunity to be introduced to important artists of Western art in a time frame of 700 years. By seeing original drawings in person, the visitor can perceive the artists’ core. In other words, the ‘skeleton’ of their most celebrated works and then have an idea of what their style is. However, for viewers who are already engaged in art/art-history, while you are there it is cool to try to make connections between what you see in the drawings and artworks that you already know. Moreover, try to ask yourself: what does the drawing has in common with the painting you thought about? Do you think that the drawing has helped the artist to develop his/her idea with the purpose of making the painting more impactful and/or vice versa?