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The J. Paul Getty Museum presents "The Sculptural Line"
Théodore Géricault (French, 1791 - 1824), Classical Nudes (recto); Classical Statuary (verso), about 1814 - 1815. Graphite, pen and brown ink, and brown wash, 21.3 × 28.4 cm (8 3/8 × 11 3/16 in.) Accession No. 87.GG.97. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- Drawing and sculpting may appear to be profoundly different practices, but for many artists these two disciplines have been intimately intertwined. Sculpture can serve as subject matter for drawings, while drawing often plays a vital part of the sculpting process. Through a selection of drawings and sculptures from the late fifteenth through twentieth centuries, a new exhibition at the J. Paul Getty Museum—The Sculptural Line, on view now through April 16, 2017—examines the dynamic interaction between these two mediums.

“Since the Renaissance, the practice of drawing after ancient sculpture has played a central role in the training of artists. Offering a repertoire of forms from which to derive inspiration, the appeal of classical statuary derived both from its embodiment of perfect proportions and from its unrivalled aesthetic and expressive appeal.” says Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “The exhibition also includes neoclassical works in which draftsmen integrated antique statues into their compositions, and work by contemporary artists who use sculpture to experiment with the movement and position of the body before representing it on paper or canvas.”

In all periods, drawings were often made as preparatory designs for sculpture. These resulted in finished modelli (models) where sculptors worked out their ideas before committing to the expenditures of labor and materials. Alberto Giacometti’s Standing Woman I (1960) was initially conceived by the artist as part of a group of monumental bronzes to be placed on the plaza outside Chase Bank in Manhattan. 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—which he had never visited—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, or records of completed sculptures. Auguste Rodin wrote in a letter to a friend, “My drawings are the result of my sculpture.” The sheet of Rodin’s Sphinx (about 1898–1900) 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 their 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 such examples.”

Although known primarily for his sculpture, Baccio Bandinelli was also a virtuoso draftsman who produced a large graphic oeuvre. In Study of Two Men (about 1525), he used the pen almost like a chisel, seeming to carve the figures’ limbs and muscles on the paper with rapid, precise hatching. The left figure reveals Bandinelli’s debt to the most famous of all Renaissance statues, Michelangelo’s David, a colossal sculpture that Bandinelli greatly admired and envied.

The Sculptural Line is on view now through April 16, 2017, at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center. The exhibition is curated by Ketty Gottardo, Martin Halusa Curator of Drawings at the Courtauld Gallery in London and former associate curator of drawings at the J. Paul Getty Museum. The display coincides with the Getty’s exhibition on Edme Bouchardon, accomplished sculptor and prolific draftsman.

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