Drawing and sculpture are more closely connected than they may at first appear, and the complex ties between them are the subject of our Drawing exhibition of the month for January. “The Sculptural Line” opens January 17 at The Getty, in Los Angeles, and will be on view until April 16.
At times, drawings can be preliminary preparatory designs for sculpture. These resulted in finished modelli where sculptors worked out their ideas on paper before committing to the expenditures of labor and materials. For example, Alberto Giacometti’s (1901–1966) Standing Woman I was initially conceived as part of a group of bronzes. Giacometti first sketched some ideas on paper before the group of rough, eroded, heavily worked figures were modeled in plaster and cast in bronze. Unsatisfied by the relationship between the sculpture and the site in New York for which it was intended, Giacometti ultimately abandoned the project, and the figures were sold individually.
In other cases, drawings served as a record of a sculptor’s finished work before it left the workshop for public or private view. These sketches functioned as ricordi. Auguste Rodin (1840–1917) wrote in a letter to a friend, “My drawings are the result of my sculpture.” The sheet of Rodin’s Sphinx belongs to a group of late graphic works that stem from Rodin’s focus on the rendering of a three-dimensional subject. By keeping his eyes on the model without looking at the sheet of paper as he drew, the artist captured the figure—both frontally and in profile—almost as if it were moving.
“Particularly important was the tradition of drawing after ancient statuary and plaster casts,” says Ketty Gottardo, curator of the exhibition. “Beginning in the Renaissance and continuing through the early nineteenth century, artists focused on the study of volumes, poses, and expressions which derived from examples.”
Among the artists with work on view in “The Sculptural Line” are Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598–1680), Théodore Géricault (1791–1824); Francisco de Goya (1746–1828), Rodin, Fernand Léger (1881–1955) and Paul Gauguin (1848–1903). A selection of artworks from the exhibition is presented here.
For more information about “The Sculptural Line,” visit getty.edu. And to learn about all the best drawing exhibitions, subscribe to Drawing magazine.