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Modern and Contemporary Works on Paper

March 24, 2009–September 13, 2009
Galleries 124–127

To herald the opening of the Modern Wing, the Department of Prints and Drawings will celebrate its extensive holdings of works on paper with an exhibition highlighting its modern and contemporary collection of drawings. Presenting approximately 80 works that, due to their inherent sensitivity to light, are rarely exhibited in public galleries, the exhibition shows artists’ evolving use of drawing, from highly finished works of art to notational and diagrammatic sheets.

The exhibition begins with a display of the department’s rich early modern collection. Highlights include works by Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, as well as German School artists such as Max Beckmann and Ernst Kirchner. A selection of Dada and Surrealist drawings will be shown alongside ephemera and artists’ books from the Ryerson Library’s prized Mary Reynolds Collection. Next, works of postwar artists including Willem de Kooning and Lee Krasner demonstrate how American painters expanded the vocabularies of their European precursors. The exhibition concludes with the work of artists who matured after 1960. Iconic drawings by Jasper Johns and Roy Lichtenstein will be joined by selections from the museum’s broad holdings of works on paper by Felix Gonzalez-Torres and Martin Kippenberger.

Additionally, the exhibition presents many pieces new to the collection. Recently acquired drawings by Minimalists such as Robert Mangold, Sylvia Plimack Mangold, Robert Ryman, and Richard Tuttle make their debut, as do works such as Roy Lichtenstein’s Alka Seltzer, a stunning image that the artist never repeated in another medium. Also highlighted are freshly conserved works, including an exquisite example of a Purist drawing by Le Corbusier that shows the architect at his best as an artist.

Displaying major works by many of the artists that will be featured in the permanent galleries of the Modern Wing, this exhibition showcases the Art Institute’s long-held commitment to collecting and exhibiting the art of our time.

Roy Lichtenstein. Alka Seltzer, 1966. Margaret Fisher Endowment.