In 1933, the Museum of Modern Art in New York staged an ‘Exhibition of Drawings by Sculptors’ that included work by Constantin Brâncuși, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska and Isamu Noguchi. The accompanying press release stated: “Sculptors seem to think of their work in drawing as divided into two classes: one a type of study drawing made previous to an actual work of sculpture; the other a drawing conceived as a thing in itself.” This Online Viewing Room similarly identifies the different ways in which drawing informs the sculptural practices of artists, bringing together works by Claire Barclay, Melvin Edwards, Tom Friedman, Kendell Geers, Jim Hodges, Yinka Shonibare CBE, David Shrigley and Jiro Takamatsu. The presentation includes personal commentaries from a number of the artists explaining the interrelation between drawing and sculpture in their practices.
Juxtaposing a selection of significant sculptures and works on paper, the presentation is underpinned by a number of thematic threads which explore how each artist unlocks the sculptural quality of drawing to negotiate space, metaphor and materiality. Several artists see little difference between their drawings and sculptures, merely harnessing the materiality of each medium to best express their thoughts. As Tom Friedman states, it is just “a question of image or object”. Some use works on paper to traverse the boundary between two-dimensionality and three-dimensionality, defying the limits of space or schematically mapping out hypothetical structures. Harnessing the immediacy of drawing, others play out fantastical or symbolic imagery on the page before manifesting such thoughts in sculptural form.