Italian Drawings: Masterpieces of Five Centuries: Exhibition

Italian Drawings: Masterpieces of Five Centuries: Exhibition

Italian Drawings: Masterpieces of Five Centuries: Exhibition

Italian Drawings: Masterpieces of Five Centuries: Exhibition

Excerpt

This exhibition represents an attempt to bring together, insofar as is possible, a rich and varied selection from the works of great Italian artists from the 14th to the 18th centuries. For various reasons, however, limits have been imposed upon this program, rendering certain lacunae inevitable. Apart from the impossibility of exhibiting various drawings which are by now too deteriorated or likely to be damaged, and the fact that no drawings of some important artists are to be found in Italian collections, the principal lacunae must be individually explained in various ways. Until the rise of interest in collecting works of art, workshop drawings fell prey to the ravages of time and of use. The older the drawings, the more is this the case; so much so that we are left with almost nothing from the 14th century. Books served to protect miniatures, but nothing protected the drawings of Giotto, Maso, Stefano and the Lorenzetti. For this reason, the recent discovery of a number of working sketches in sinopia, some of them from the 14th century, must be considered a precious acquisition. Nevertheless, it is extremely rare that such a working sketch, no matter how old, can equal a true drawing in graphic value. While the sinopia is certainly an important documentation of a given moment in the creative process, there is usually between it and the true drawing a great difference in intention as well as in execution. Very often, the sinopia sketch is no more than a trace or a hint of an image, serving sometimes merely to indicate the size, position and relationship of figures on a wall, and rarely does it have a finished quality, precisely because the artist is at that stage already about to achieve (and in a sense has already achieved) a final integration of line, color and light.

The true drawing is further from that creative moment, and is related to it in varying ways, depending upon the temperament of the particular artist. It is impossible to define the significance, value and function of the drawing in a general way. A drawing may be an exercise, or a methodical study, or a free and rapid improvisation; it may be impossible to translate into painting, or almost the equivalent, in graphic terms, of projected . . .

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