Santa Fe’s New Mexico Museum of Art is one of only two U.S. venues hosting the British Museum’s special traveling exhibition “Lines of Thought,” which examines many different ways that artists since the 15th century have used drawing as a way of recording and provoking thought.
Opening on May 27 and running through September 17, the show features 70 works by more than four dozen artists including Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Albrecht Dürer, Piet Mondrian, Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, Bridget Riley, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Franz Kline and Rachel Whiteread.
“These particular 70 works were selected after hundreds of drawings from the British Museum’s collection (the museum has more than 50,000 drawings) were shown to 1,000 students in 100 workshops over a three-year period of time,” explains the show’s curator Isabel Seligman. “Student feedback helped me decide which drawings to include in the exhibit.”
Among the drawings in the show are Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Virgin and Christ Child with a Cat (1478-1481; pen and brown ink over stylus underdrawing) and Rembrandt’s “ A Clump of Trees in a Fenced Enclosure” (1645; black chalk).
The exhibit’s introductory section displays the oldest drawing, which is 3,000 years old, next to a contemporary work. Rather than group drawings in chronological order, Seligman has organized them into categories associated with different stages in the artistic process.
Drawings are in sections titled First Thought, Brainstorming, Enquiry and Experiment, Insight and Association and Development and Decisions.
Since the drawings are very sensitive to light, the British Museum allows them to be seen by the public only once every 10 years.