Monday, February 4, 2013

“Color Line Light” Drawing exhibition at the National Gallery of Art

Yesterday I saw the new drawing exhibition, “Color, Line, Light,French Drawings, Watercolors and Pastels from Delacroix to Signac” at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. The show was organized with Musée des Impressionnismes, Giverny and is on view in Washington, DC until May 26, 2013.

A wonderful antidote for the doldrums of winter this exhibition includes an impressive array of drawings, many in full color, from the mid 19th century to the early 20th century.  The 100 works, from the collection of James T. Dyke, show off many brilliant drawing techniques and subject matters ranging from landscape, still life to figures and portraits. Indeed this exhibition will make you reach for neglected art materials and experiment!

          Paul Signac, Barges on the Seine at Samois, 1900, Watercolor and gouache.

The drawing techniques showcased in this broadly ranging show includes watercolor, gouache, pen and ink, charcoal, pastel and mixed medium. The periods of art represented include romanticism, realism, impressionism, postimpressionism, pointillism (neoimpressionism), symbolism and the Nabis.

                                   Paul Huet, A Meadow at Sunset, pastel.

Watercolor techniques range from the tightly rendered paintings of Alexandre Calame, the confident brushwork of Gustave Dore, to the fresh and freely painted pointillist works by Paul Signac.

                     Gustave Dore, A River Gorge in a Mountain Landscape, watercolor.

Charcoal drawings range from a luminous figure study by Albert Besnard to the dark, ominous, tonal work of Charles Angrand and sensitive realism of Leon Augustin Lhermitte.

Leon Augustin Lhermitte, An Elderly Peasant Women, charcoal.

The show features the use of pastels, which in the 19th century became a favored medium by many artists thanks to the development of richer pigmented chalk pastels.  Paul Huet uses a bright palette to layer color in describing a meadow at sunset.  While Auguste Louis Lepere uses an analogous palette of pastels to draw a pastoral scene.

                Auguste Louis Lepere, Chestnut Trees above a River, 1900, pastel.

It is often thought that the impressionist artists didn’t create many drawings as they painted spontaneously from life. This show offers many opportunities to see impressionist works on paper. An atmospheric pastel drawing by Claude Monet was done in London while he waited for his oils paints to arrive. Edgar Degas is one of many impressionist artists who enjoyed drawing techniques.  The exhibition includes a few masterful drawings by Degas they are inspired in their use of the compositional space and in there animated effects.

                       Edgar Degas, A Dancer at the Bar, charcoal and white chalk.

I recommend an excursion to the National Gallery of Art to see this inspired exhibition.  I also recommend the exhibition catalog.

1 comment: