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I came across The Drawing Center by chance, one day walking down a small back street in Manhattan’s Soho district I was instantly curious by it’s name and wanted to find out more. As it turns out The Drawing Center is the only museum in the U.S. to focus solely on showcasing drawings, both contemporary and historical. It was founded in 1977 to give unknown artists’ more opportunities to exhibit their work in a public space and to demonstrate the importance of drawing as an artistic medium. It has also taken a very active role in stimulating public dialogue within the realms of art & culture and hosting workshops and seminars with participating artists.

The Drawing Center - Matt Mullican
Matt Mullican, Installation View. Photo by Cathy Carver.

The current exhibition is by Matt Mullican (b. 1951, Santa Monica, CA), a New York based artist. He uses drawing and an array of “hand crafted” methods ranging from schematic diagrams, arcane symbols and hand written pieces to drawings that he’s created under hypnosis. His work is said to “classify, order, describe, map and represent an understanding of the world”.

The Drawing Center - Matt Mullican
Matt Mullican, “Untitled,” 2006. Mixed media on bulletin boards, each: 96 x 48 x 3 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Tracy Williams, Ltd.

The work on view showcases over 200 works from throughout his career, including never-before-seen drawings, notebooks, rubbings, video, and mixed media installations. Mullican’s work is definitely an interesting mix of styles, walking around the space gives a sense of his diverse approaches and the range of ideas he’s put on paper over the years. His work is said influenced by road signs and scientific codes, from maps and architectural plans in their simple, visually iconic style. For me it’s nice to see a place of wall to wall, hand-produced artwork, especially when the approach to mark making is increasingly computer generated. The “human” element which in this case is rendered with marks, scribbles, textures and immediate forms of creating imagery is what makes the work very unique to Mullican.

The Drawing Center - M/M (Paris)
M/M (Paris), Stools from the exhibition “Just Like an Ant Walking on the Edge of the Visible,” 2008. Courtesy Haunch of Venison, London & New York. Photo by Lisa Quiñones.

The exhibition also includes another installation which is housed across the street. It features the design work of M/M (Paris) which is the creative partnership of Michael Amzalag and Mathias Augustyniak. Their work often mixes photography, intricate illustration and hand-drawn typefaces. In this case their work was designed specifically for the space and comprises of 41 wood and metal stools that are adorned with a silk-screened font. The frames to each stool uses one of M/M’s signature letter form alphabets in their construction. When you look at the stools from a certain vantage point it spells the phrase “Just Like an Ant Walking on the Edge of the Visible” which is the exhibitions title. Apparently it is M/M’s formula for drawing, taught to them by an old art school professor.

Stumbling across The Drawing Center was a nice surprise, I’ll be back to see more!

The Drawing Center
Address: 35 Wooster Street, New York, NY, 10013
Tel: 212-219-2166
Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Friday, 10:00-18:00; Saturday, 11:00-18:00
The gallery will close at 3pm on 12/24 and reopen at 10am on 1/6

Text: Garry Waller

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