Notations: Contemporary Drawing as Idea and Process

September 14, 2012 - January 7, 2013
Kemper Art Museum, Garen Gallery

Drawing is a medium that offers an intimate and open field for imaginative elaboration, in which concepts and ideas can emerge and change with relative ease. Uninhibited by the obligation to create a finished and independent object, as is traditionally associated with painting and sculpture, drawing as a medium lends itself readily to the theoretical and the experimental. Notations: Contemporary Drawing as Idea and Process brings together over sixty works by thirty-nine artists from the postwar decade to today.

The exhibition focuses on practices that emerged during the late 1950s through the 1970s, a period of great innovation for drawing. Seminal American artists associated with the conceptually rigorous and process-oriented practices of Minimalism, post-Minimalism, and Conceptual art are represented, including works by Carl Andre, Mel Bochner, Dan Flavin, Eva Hesse, Nancy Holt, Agnes Martin, Richard Serra, and Robert Smithson, among many others. These artists enacted a fundamental shift away from drawing as an intimate form of graphic disclosure toward a focus on material and conceptual conditions. Notations also examines work by subsequent generations of artists who continue to employ procedures rooted in Process and Conceptual art—artists such as Janet Cohen, N. Dash, Nicole Fein, and Hadi Tabatabai—and engage in exploratory relationships with their materials and mediums, including Christine Hiebert and Allyson Strafella. The 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.” These sections reflect the multifaceted character of drawing and its marked shift in status since the late 1950s. While many of the works presented continue the early modern practice of making drawings as finite expressions in their own right, innovators in the 1960s and 1970s also frequently employed drawing in ways not previously considered independent works of art: diagrams, instructions for fabrication, notes for site-specific installations, and markers of duration. Each section highlights key conceptual and material strategies employed by a postwar generation of artists in their bid to rethink the work of art and the nature of representation, strategies that have continued to compel succeeding generations of artists.

Notations: Contemporary Drawing as Idea and Process is curated by Meredith Malone, associate curator. The exhibition will be on view at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum from September 14, 2012, to January 7, 2013. All artworks in the exhibition are on loan from the collection of Sally and Wynn Kramarsky, New York, and The
Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Exhibition support

Support for Notations: Contemporary Drawing as Idea and Process was provided by James M. Kemper, Jr., the David Woods Kemper Memorial Foundation, Washington University’s Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, the Hortense Lewin Art Fund, and members of the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum.


The exhibition will be accompanied by an illustrated brochure. An online catalog organized and edited by Rachel Nackman, curator of the Kramarsky Collection, with an essay by Meredith Malone will feature images of all of the works in the exhibition, artist interviews, and select entries by graduate students in the Department of Art History & Archaeology at Washington University in St. Louis and at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.

Educator resources

The Museum's Education department connects special exhibitions with students of all levels through specialized tours, curriculum plans, hands-on activities, and more.

Media links

- Notations: Contemporary Drawing as Idea and Process press release (July 2, 2012)
- St. Louis Beacon review by Rachel Heidenry (October 5, 2012)
- Riverfront Times review by Jessica Baran (October 11, 2012)

Image credits

Eva Hesse, Untitled, 1963-64. Collage, gouache, watercolor, and black ink on paper, 22 x 30 in. (55.9 x 76.2 cm). Collection of Sally and Wynn Kramarsky. © The Estate of Eva Hesse, Hauser & Wirth Zürich London. Photo by Peter Muscato.

Christine Hiebert, Untitled (t.02.3), 2002. Blue tape on paper, 13 7/8 x 16 3/4 in. (35.2 x 42.5 cm). Collection of Sally and Wynn Kramarsky. © 2012 Christine Hiebert. Photo by Laura Mitchell.

Barry Le Va, Wash, 1968. Ink and pen on graph paper mounted on paper, 18 1/2 x 22 in. (47 x 55.9 cm). Collection of Sally and Wynn Kramarsky. © 2012 Barry Le Va. Photo by Ellen McDermott.

Richard Serra, Untitled (Preliminary Drawing for L.A. County Museum), 1971. Graphite on paper, 17 3/4 x 23 1/2 in. (45.1 x 59.7 cm). Collection of Sally and Wynn Kramarsky. © 2012 Richard Serra / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo by Ellen McDermott.

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.

Allyson Strafella, factor, 2007. Typed colons transferred onto paper, 13 5/8 x 10 5/8 in. (34.6 x 27 cm). Collection of Sally and Wynn Kramarsky. © 2012 Allyson Strafella. Photo by Ellen McDermott.