Compass in Hand: Selections from The Judith Rothschild Foundation Contemporary Drawings Collection


Narrator: Christian Rattemeyer.

Christian Rattemeyer: In the mid 1950s a younger generation of artists consciously reacted against the prevailing art of the time, specifically abstract expressionism, in their understanding that ... graphic expression is not exclusively ... or primarily what could be called a confessional mark. A gestural expression of an inner emotion. And instead opted for procedures of graphic expression that were more based in the tools, in the materials and in the processes with which a drawing is made.

In the early 1960s, out of this new regard for material experimentation developed a whole range of artistic expressions that we would now most commonly define as minimalist, post minimalist and conceptual.

Seriality, geometry ... tool based procedures, which means that the hand of the artist was supposed to be as invisible as possible with the help of industrial and technical drawing tools, became primary elements of the drawings of that period.

At the same time the status of many of the drawings we see here, changed in relation to the finished product. Sculptors such as Dan Flavin and Donald Judd, and installation artists such as Fred Sandback, often used existing industrial materials, such as fluorescent light bulbs for their work.

The drawings meant to represent a concept or were often made directly for the fabricators so that they would understand what the sculpture would look like and to which specifications to build it.

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