Lines of Thought at RISD Museum

Lines of Thought: Drawing from Michelangelo to Now From the British Museum

Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

October 6, 2017 – January 7, 2018

Lines of Thought: Drawing from Michelangelo to Now explores the vital role of drawing as a continual and active process of discovery. Seventy works from the British Museum’s world-renowned collection examine the many ways thinking on paper has taken form across continents and centuries, from an ancient Egyptian papyrus to works by such well-known artists as Leonardo da Vinci and Pablo Picasso to artists working today, including William Kentridge and RISD alumna Julie Mehretu. Some works capture a fleeting thought or externalize the germ of an idea; others synthesize an elaborate plan or brainstorm multiple solutions to a problem. The exhibition as a whole investigates the ability of drawing to show the direct and immediate relationship between the artist and their material, and the continuing importance of drawing today.

Throughout history, drawing has remained the ultimate thinking medium. From recording and generating ideas to analyzing, developing, and refining them, drawing constitutes a key conceptual tool at every stage of the artistic process. To borrow a phrase from writer Virginia Woolf, a drawing captures the “likeness of a thought,” rendering visible ideas and decisions that are often eliminated from a finished work. As a method of inquiry, drawing enables a deeper understanding of its object, and through studying drawings and making drawn responses, we can turn this process of reflection back on itself, gaining a greater familiarity with artists’ thoughts and methods. Drawings allow us privileged insights into the process of creation. Invaluable lessons can be learned looking at earlier works in the context of artists working today.

Altered States: Etching in Late 19th-Century Paris

June 30- December 3, 2017

In late 19th-century Paris, the printmaking process of etching underwent a revolutionary transformation. At a time when prints were usually made as copies of paintings rather than as original works of art, a revival of interest in etching led to greater knowledge of technique, allowing artists to experiment with subject matter and process more than ever before. This exhibition features works on paper by well-known artists such as Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt, as well as those lesser known today, including Albert Besnard and Henri Guérard, and features several new acquisitions to the RISD Museum’s collection.