Exhibit Information

Frick Collection

Address 1 East 70th Street
New York, NY 10021

Click here for quick directions
Phone Number 212-288-0700

Website http://www.frick.org


Opening: 10/5/2010 - Closing: 1/9/2011

The two intimate below-stairs Exhibition-Galleries at the Frick Collection do not offer much wall or case-space for presenting art-works. So the art shown there has to be of Superlative Quality. This is especially the case with The Spanish Manner: Drawings from Ribera to Goya.

Although some exceptional canvases by Goya & other Spanish-Masters are treasures of Manhattan’s premiere museums—including the Frick—this is the first museum-exhibition devoted to the broad tradition of Spanish-Draftsmanship.

More than 50 works on-view offer a sampling of the rich, diverse legacy of the Spanish-Draftsman from the early 17th to the early 19th Century.

But why has it taken so long for New York Musea to focus on this aspect of Spanish-Art?

Could it be because some of the Greats painted directly on canvas, without making Preliminary-Sketches?

Some of the pre-eminent Masters of Spain’s Golden-Age—such as El Greco, Velázquez, & Zurbarán—did so, leaving behind few drawings. Their bypassing of the traditional means of developing a composition led to a mistaken-assumption that their Contemporaries were not particularly interested in drawing.

The relatively late interest in Spanish-Draftsmanship also has to do with the way such drawings were used on the Iberian-Peninsula. In the 17th Century, drawings were often bundled into lots at an artist’s death & bought by other artists as Working-Materials. They were frequently tacked up to walls as models for Motifs, Styles, & Techniques. Many eventually disintegrated through rough-handling.

For Spanish artists, Classicism was one option among other Representational-Modes. They developed Original & Idiosyncratic Techniques, delved into a wide range of Emotional-Experience, & freely departed from Conventions of representing the Human-Figure.

The current show is illuminated with rare sheets by Francisco Pacheco & Vicente Carducho, as well as some spectacular Red-Chalk-Drawings by the celebrated draftsman Jusepe de Ribera. There are also rapid sketches and painting-like wash-drawings from the rich oeuvre of the Andalusian-Master Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, along with lively drawings by Francisco de Herrera the Elder & his son, the Madrid Court-Artist Juan Carreño de Miranda, among others.

The exhibition offers many examples of the use of Chalk, but the Spanish-Draftsman’s most characteristic-medium was pen-&-ink & wash. In Andalusia, Reed-Pens made from native-plants were favored for the particular quality of line they produced, while artists at the Court of Madrid preferred Quill-Pens. The flexibility of the reed made it possible to vary the thickness of each stroke, to create effects of shading without the use of wash.

The second part of the exhibition presents 22 sheets by the great draftsman Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, whose drawings are rarely studied in the illuminating context of the Spanish-Draftsmen who came before him. These works—mostly from his Private-Albums—attest to the continuity between his Thematic-Interests & those of his Spanish-Forebears, as well as to his enormously Fertile-Imagination.

Goya is perhaps best known for his depictions of the Unimaginable-Horror of Man’s Inhumanity to Man. This is bleakly & directly expressed in a drawing made during his years of exile. A figure—dead or alive—is hung up in a sack-like-form, suspended from a hook on a wall.

The delicately-rendered head of an Old Man protrudes from one side, with his legs from the bottom. The work bears the legend that may be translated as He Appeared Like This, Mutilated, in Zaragoza, Early in 1700.

At the core of Goya’s art the Theme is Human-Brutality in the name of Religion and/or Patriotism. [The more things change, the more they remain the same…]

Experts have noted that—compared with the art of his predecessors—Goya’s style is more unencumbered & direct—more Modern. But, until his drawings could be seen within the context of those of his compatriots—as they are here—it was not recognized that his work was also a distillation of a particularly fertile, inventive, & original form of Draftsmanship that developed on the Iberian-Peninsula: the Spanish-Manner.

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