Making Their Marks

I used to think that drawing was preparatory to some larger accomplishment. In fact I used to use the word “sketch” to refer to anything done with pen or pencil. Of course drawing is very much its own thing, an end product, as a new exhibit at the Morris Museum happily proves.

To draw is a primitive force re-enacted by successive generations, according to the museum’s press release. The very act of drawing connects the artist to humanity’s earliest, most mysterious consciousness. It is a consciousness whose creative urge continues today. Timeless: The Art of Drawing, on view Sept. 30 to Dec. 21, surveys the breadth of artists’ ongoing obsession to make marks.

This regional exhibition, assembled by Curator of Exhibitions Ann Aptaker, will feature drawings by artists living and/or working in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware, as well as masterworks by significant 20th century artists and drawings from the Morris Museum’s collection.

“The richness of expression in these galleries derives from what I believe are drawing’s inescapable requirements: skill, vision and courage,” says Ms. Aptaker. “Though all forms of art involve acts of courage, expressions of vision, and, traditionally, a modicum of skill, only drawing requires all these at once.”

What was originally envisioned as an intimate survey of activity quickly grew into a large exhibition of more than 100 pieces, combining the classical traditions of portraiture and figure studies, realistic drawings, abstract drawings, drawings that employ the full spectrum of shade, tone and color and others that find finality in minimal use of line. Other drawings are rendered in childlike simplicity, emotional, sexual or gender ambiguity, deep tenderness, sadness, humor and joy.

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