CHRIS FREMANTLE

What art have I seen? Who’s afraid of drawing?

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on May 1, 2019

Works on Paper from the Ramo Collection at the Estorick Collection.

Drawing from Italy between 1910 and 1990. Abstract, figurative, with words and in relation to sculpture.

Talking to my cousin last night, we discussed how small exhibitions, well curated, can have more significance than their scale.

This exhibition covers periods where Italy was having huge influence on the world, at the time of the Futurists after the First World War, and again in the 60s when, alongside Arte Povera, Italy was a political maelstrom and fashionable too. Another cousin (it was an evening of cousins) said, just think about photos of young Italians on beaches in the Sixties, the height of chic, and it was the same country that had the largest Communist Party outside of the Soviet Union.

And then there was fascism, Futurism slipping into questions of power and technology, Il Duce, etc.

It’s all there in the selection of drawings: designs for facades of Fascist headquarters, pseudo neo classical Saints, but also found and distressed objects as drawings, satire, cinema, mathematics… all life in fact. Every approach to making drawings. As the curatorial statement says,

Drawing – considered as any kind of work on paper, regardless of technique – is the load-bearing skeleton for much creative experimentation, a medium favoured by painters and sculptors that often represents the first visualization of an idea.

What I didn’t see was any reflection on collecting, which could have been brought out in the relation between the permanent (Estorick) collection and the visiting (Ramo) collection. This could have happened by highlighting which artists exist in both suites, leading to hurried journey’s between floors, but also by some comparison of the conditions of collecting, the motivations of collectors.

Having been listening to the Collect Wisely podcast with Pamela Joyner, the concerns of collectors, their ambitions and motivations, are vital to understanding the body of the collection.

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