It’s been open less than a week and our latest exhibition Egon Schiele: The Radical Nude has received fantastic reviews and record visitor numbers, but it’s not just The Courtauld Gallery that has a fascination with Schiele.
Kate Macfarlane, Drawing Room Co-Director & Guest Blogger
‘The Nakeds’ includes artists’: David Austen, Fiona Banner, Joseph Beuys, Louise Bourgeois, George Condo, Enrico David, Marlene Dumas, Tracey Emin, Leon Golub, Stewart Helm, Chantal Joffe, Maria Lassnig, Paul McCarthy, Chris Ofili, Carol Rama, Egon Schiele, Nancy Spero, Georgina Starr, Alina Szapocznikow, Rosemarie Trockel, Nicola Tyson, Andy Warhol and Franz West.
In ‘The Nakeds‘ exhibition, drawings by Egon Schiele are presented alongside the work of 22 modern and contemporary artists. We present a perfect pair of exquisitely sensitive pencil drawings by Schiele: a self-portrait in which he assumes an unusually effeminate attitude and a portrait of Wally, his mistress. Both are partially clothed, with the pubic area exposed.
These works are exhibited with tender line drawings of naked male figures made by Andy Warhol in the 1950s, delicate drawings celebrating female power made by Joseph Beuys in the 1950s, through to new works made by contemporary London based artists Enrico David and Chantal Joffe and New York based Nicola Tyson. Direct from the artists’ studios come drawings by Rosemarie Trockel collectively titled ‘I feel something’ and a ‘wordscape’ describing the performance of a stripper by Fiona Banner.
Presenting drawings made today alongside those produced in the early part of the 20th century has the effect of demonstrating that drawing is an enduring and in some ways unchanging medium. Drawing and nakedness sit very comfortably together. Drawing is a stripped down thing. With the simplest of means it can capture an arresting image or conjure a sensation, a feeling. Nakedness is not simply a physical condition. It suggests a figure stripped of clothing, perhaps by force; like drawing, the word naked conjures a raw and spare condition.
‘The Nakeds’, like most of Drawing Room’s projects, evolved through a collaborative process. In this case myself and co-director Mary Doyle developed the exhibition in partnership with artist David Austen and art historian Professor Gemma Blackshaw.
The latters specialisation in Austrian art of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and Austen’s exploration of the fragility of the human condition through watercolour, painting and film, provided refreshingly divergent starting points. Drawing Room’s activities are inspired by spending time in the studios of contemporary artists (indeed we share our building with 25 artists), and this exhibition gave Gemma the opportunity to engage with contemporary female practitioners and to look at the work of Schiele through their eyes.
Her incisive and revealing findings are presented in her essay for the exhibition catalogue which also includes a ‘film script’ by David Austen and a ‘Letter to Egon Schiele’ by artist Nicola Tyson.
Various events compliment the exhibition including film screenings and a seminar on 10 November which will include contributions from David Austen, Gemma Blackshaw, Professor Jon Bird, Simon Grant, and by artists Stewart Helm and Chantal Joffe.
In Outset Study (our unique open access resource comprising a growing reference library of books on contemporary international drawing) we feature Artists’ Reading Lists, fascinating titles hand-picked by artists in ‘The Nakeds’.
Coming up at Drawing Room is the first solo exhibition in a UK public gallery of Mexican artist Daniel Guzmán (opening 13 December– 21 February 2015).
In March our renowned Drawing Biennial 2015 will open (5 March – 29 April 2015) and include drawings by over 200 key contemporary practitioners which are available for sale from £250.