“Marks of Genius” at Joslyn
November 30th, 2017
Omaha, NE—Joslyn Art Museum’s current exhibition, Marks of Genius, is a collection of 100 drawings from the Minneapolis Institute of Art, or MIA. It’s been on display since October, and tonight there will be a special curator gallery talk guided by Dana Cowen, Associate Curator at the Joslyn.
The collection comprises depictions of nature, portraits, allegorical pieces and abstract work. The drawings range from the 15th century to today—including pieces by some of the most renowned artists, like Degas, Matisse, Van Gogh and Andy Warhol.
Though on display, not all of the pieces are necessarily finished, providing a glimpse at the artists’ creative processes, Cowen explained.
“There are many uses for drawings, and of course, drawing is a fundamental element of art,” Cowen said. “You had to master drawing before you could move on to something like sculpture or painting or any other are form, really, so there are several categories of drawings. One is simply an experimental form, so an artist trying to figure out the placement of a hand or the turn of the head, for instance. One is preparatory, so if you are going to make a larger painting, to prepare for that, you would make several different drawings. The third most common is an object as a finished product—an independent object—and so in the show there is a mix of these, and this does help us understand artists’ method, how they were and in some instances, it’s not easy to tell whether it is a finished object or not depending on the time period and the artist.”
Keep in mind, too, that “drawing” doesn’t necessarily mean pencil, or black and white. All of the pieces are on paper or parchment but ink, watercolor, and charcoal, as well as texturing, are all featured. For example:
“The object that you come up to when you walk into the exhibition is a work by Jim Dine. He’s an American artist, and this drawing is from 1988, and it is beautiful, it’s huge, it has so much going on in it and there’s so much color, and it really bears the marks of its making, which is perfect to have it next to the title, Marks of Genius, because he is taking objects that are disparate, putting them together, scraping the paper, adding paper. There’s an element of collage to it. He’s taking images away. It’s a fantastic object, I think. In terms of surprise, that might be really one of the most beautiful.”
Marks of Genius is open for viewing during regular hours until January 7th, but Cowen’s talks tonight will offer guests more about the history and themes of the pieces.
“I’ll be focusing on a number of important objects, some that I think are highlights of the show. We’ll go through some of the major themes. It’s an insider view into the objects. I’ll talk about tidbits that you won’t get from the wall label. I’ll be there to answer questions. I’ll talk about the installation and how we decided where we were going to put the objects—nice juxtapositions of things. We also have a wall specifically devoted to work some paper from Joslyn. So this is a great opportunity for us to bring some of our own objects out from storage that aren’t on view to the public, and so I’ll stop and talk about a couple of those pieces as well.”
Marks of Genius will run at the Joslyn until January 7th. After that, the drawings will return to MIA and many of the pieces might go into storage for at least a few years. Cowen will give two curator talks tonight at 6:15pm and 7:15pm, and also on December 17th at 2:00pm and 2:45pm. Visitors may choose which time they’d like to attend, but advanced registration is requested. Walk-in guests will only be admitted as space permits. For more information or to register, visit Joslyn.org.