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The Stage of Drawing: Gesture and Act

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA)


19 Jun 2003 to 24 Aug 2003


Eileen Agar, Carl Andre, Jean Arp, Heneage Finch Aylesford, Francis Bacon, Aubrey Beardsley, Max Beckmann, William Blake, Pierre Bonnard, Constantin Brancusi, André Breton, British School, Marcel Broodthaers, John Cage, Paul Cézanne, Alexander Cozens, Jean Crotti, George Dance, Nathaniel Dance-Holland, John Charles Denham, Marcel Duchamp, Jacob Epstein, Luciano Fabro, Jean Fautrier, Barry Flanagan, John Flaxman, Lucio Fontana, Henry Fuseli, Naum Gabo, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Alberto Giacometti, Natalya Goncharova, Juan Gris, Richard Hamilton, Barbara Hepworth, Eva Hesse, William Henry Hunt, Giles Hussey, John William Inchbold, Gwen John, Jasper Johns, John Latham, Fernand Léger, Sol LeWitt, El Lissitzky, René Magritte, Piero Manzoni, Brice Marden, André Masson, E.L.T. Mesens, Henri Michaux, John Hamilton Mortimer, Barnett Newman, William Young Ottley, Blinky Palermo, Giuseppe Penone, Francis Picabia, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Elizabeth Rigby, Edward Ruscha, Kurt Schwitters, Albert Seba, Thomas Stothard, James Thornhill, Joseph Mallord William Turner, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, George Montard Woodward, Joseph Wright


Vivienne Webb & Avis Newman

About the exhibition

This exhibition presented over 140 drawing works from the collection of Tate Britain. Curated through the eyes of contemporary artist Avis Newman, whose solo exhibition was presented concurrently on Level 2 of the MCA, The Stage of Drawing: Gesture and Act brought together 65 artists from the 18th century to the late 20th century. Presenting a personal perspective on the role drawing has played in a historical and contemporary context, the exhibition included drawings by 18th and 19th century artists Heneage Finch Aylesford, William Blake, Paul Cézanne, Alexander Cozens and Henry Fuseli; 20th century artists Francis Bacon, Pierre Bonnard, Marcel Duchamp, Naum Gabo and Barbara Hepworth; and contemporary artists such as Carl Andre, Barry Flanagan, Sol Lewitt, Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol.

The connection between this group of diverse works was the proposition that drawing is an open-ended and exploratory activity, or as Newman said “a generative space of thought”. Reflecting how drawing develops in time and space, the exhibition outlined the ongoing activity of thinking and recognition that unfolds in the accumulation of marks, a setting for the mind’s creative processes.

This exhibition outlined this development of thought through four interrelated thematic sections that crossed boundaries of historical period and geographical location. ‘The Mirrored Self’ considered the act of drawing as an act of consciousness, or a means of reflecting on the self. ‘Chronicling Space’ investigated drawing as it pressed beyond the limitations of surface to an experience of unbounded space. ‘Coded Imprints’ engaged in several ways with questions of language and symbolic systems. Finally, ‘Invented Bodies’ showed the possibilities of drawing from the imagination, the potential to invent new bodily forms and scenes.

Supported by
Organised by

Organised by the Tate.

Organised by

Organised by The Drawing Center, New York.