Notations Exhibition

Robert Smithson, Bingham Copper Mining Pit—Utah Reclamation Project, 1973. Full image credit below.

Exhibition highlights drawing work from Kramarsky collection

Posted by Liam Otten August 7, 2012

As a medium, drawing lends itself to the theoretical and experimental. Freed from the obligation to resolve into a finished and independent object—an obligation traditionally associated with painting and sculpture—drawing is at once open and intimate, a field for imaginative elaboration in which new concepts and ideas can emerge and evolve with relative ease.

Notations: Contemporary Drawing as Idea and Process, on view at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum September 14 to January 7, 2013, brings together more than 60 works by 39 artists, dating from the late 1950s to today. Curated by Meredith Malone, the Museum's associate curator, the exhibition is drawn primarily from the renowned collection of Sally and Wynn Kramarsky, New York, along with several works donated by the couple to The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Notations focuses on practices that emerged during the postwar period—a time of great innovation in drawing—yet which continue to influence contemporary practitioners. Included are works by Carl Andre, Mel Bochner, Dan Flavin, Eva Hesse, Nancy Holt, Agnes Martin, Richard Serra, Robert Smithson, and other seminal American artists associated with the rigorous and process-oriented practices of Minimal, post-Minimal, and Conceptual art. Together these artists enacted a fundamental shift away from drawing as an intimate form of graphic disclosure and towards a larger investigation of material and conceptual conditions.

Notations also examines work by subsequent generations of artists, including Janet Cohen, N. Dash, Nicole Fein, and Hadi Tabatabai, who employ procedures rooted in Process and Conceptual art; and Christine Hiebert and Allyson Strafella, who foster exploratory relationships with their materials and mediums. This juxtaposition, of both established and emerging artists, reflects the sustained allure of drawing as a preeminent medium for artists who embrace its flexibility, immediacy, and economy of means.

The exhibition is divided into two thematic sections—"Repetitive and Serial Systems" and "Presentation Drawings and Proposals"—reflecting the multifaceted character of drawing and its marked shift in status since the late 1950s. Both sections highlight key strategies employed by postwar artists in rethinking the work of art and the nature of representation—strategies that have continued to compel succeeding generations of artists. Though many works on view continue the early modern practice of making drawings as finite, self-contained expressions, innovators in the 1960s and 1970s began to employ drawing in ways not previously considered independent works of art: diagrams, instructions for fabrication, notes for site-specific installations, and markers of duration.

The exhibition was designed by Los Angeles–based architects Frank Escher and Ravi GuneWardena.

The Kramarsky Collection

The Kramarsky Collection is the result of more than sixty years of interest in Minimalism, Postminimalism, and Conceptual art. With an intuitive attraction to the raw materials and intimate processes involved in making a drawing, a continued interest in developing supportive relationships with artists, and, above all, a commitment to careful looking, Wynn Kramarsky has amassed nearly three thousand works of art, more than half of which have subsequently been donated to museums and other public institutions.


An illustrated brochure will accompany the exhibition. In addition, an online catalogue—organized and edited by Rachel Nackman, curator of the Kramarsky Collection—will feature an essay by Malone, images of all of the works on view, as well as artist interviews and select entries by graduate students from the Department of Art History and Archaeology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, and from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University.


Support for Notations: Contemporary Drawing as Idea and Process is provided by James M. Kemper, Jr., the David Woods Kemper Memorial Foundation, the Hortense Lewin Fund, members of the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, and the Sam Fox School.

Related Events

Fall 2012 Opening Celebration
Artist Conversations: Meredith Malone with N. Dash and Christine Hiebert
Film Screening—Notations
Workshop: From Process to Public Space: Sol LeWitt and Donald Judd
Workshop: Making Your Mark: Exploring Process in Contemporary Drawing
Community Day
Educational Seminar: The Practice of Drawing: Then and Now
Public Lecture Series: Anne Rorimer
Artist Talk: Allyson Strafella

Image credit

Robert Smithson, Bingham Copper Mining Pit—Utah Reclamation Project, 1973. Wax pencil and tape on plastic overlay on photograph, 20 x 30 in. (50.8 x 76.2 cm). Collection of Sally and Wynn Kramarsky. Art © Estate of Robert Smithson / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Photo by Ellen McDermott.