Extended Drawing, Sol LeWitt, Robert Mangold, Bruce Nauman & Richard Serra, Bonnefanten Maastricht

September 18, 2011 - January 15, 2012

Extended Drawing focuses on a specific aspect of the work of American artists Sol LeWitt, Robert Mangold, Bruce Nauman and Richard Serra. The exhibition shows works in which line and drawing are taken beyond their original boundaries.

The exhibition brings four artists together, who belong to the 'classical' generation that gave direction to American art from the mid-sixties. These four artists have consistently used drawing in their zeal to strip art of easy (false) sentimentality and an over-emphasized subjectivity. Their endeavour to achieve universality leads them to a far-reaching objectification of visual means.

Extended Drawing stands for the art that transcends the limitations of all the traditional values that are part and parcel of the various mediums. For some time already, painting and sculpture have demonstrated all sorts of 'extended' forms, including significant contributions by these four artists. However, until now, the inclusion of drawing has not been on the agenda.

The exhibition will occupy the whole of the 2nd floor. This will give plenty of space to each artist and enable forty large works to be shown.

Sol LeWitt's first wall drawing dates from 1968 and was created in the Paula Cooper Gallery in New York. Creating a wall drawing was a sudden, radical, but for LeWitt logical switch from three-dimensional to two-dimensional. He had suddenly found a method whereby he could escape the limitations of paper and canvas, but even more importantly he could work directly on the wall (or floor) without the intervention of a support (canvas or paper). In his own work, he thus changed the role of drawing as a modest medium into drawing on a large scale in architectural spaces.

Robert Mangold has always adhered to the same strict formula of striving for a balance between surface, colour, line and form. His work is characterized by his use of the 'shaped canvas'. The artist, however, regards his works as paintings rather than objects, even though he claims not to be interested in painting techniques. Mangold starts each of his works by drawing quick sketches, in which he makes the most important decisions intuitively. The best ideas are developed on a larger scale, in graphite and pastel on paper, after which several versions are created on canvas. In pen¬cil on the shaped canvas, he creates a grid structure, which he uses to draw the thicker lines: ovals, waves, scrolls and circles.

Bruce Nauman abandoned early on painting and began a restless investigation into the possibilities of sculpture, performance, installations, film, video, photography and neon for his work. For the neons, Bruce Nauman made sketches in pencil, charcoal and watercolour. For the figures, he used the outlines of the bodies of himself and his wife. The double outlines in different colours indicate where neon is to be used, and the layered figures indicate how they will appear when the neon flashes on and off. The primary colours red, yellow and blue are used for the male figures, while the female figures are represented in softer shades like pink, green and orange. The timing of the sequences is very important and is fixed and repeated in a continual loop, each figure having its own individual programme.

Richard Serra is known mainly for his large-scale sculptures in Corten steel, which are constructed in such a way as to sound out the limits of the laws of gravity. Serra's drawings are not sketches for his sculptures, but autonomous works of art. Although he has been drawing since 1972, his first solo exhibition only came in 1974, at the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York. Originally, he worked in charcoal, but switched to paintstick from 1973. He developed his own procedure for making large blocks of paintstick (a mix of oil pastel, tar, beeswax and resin), which enabled him to work large surface areas with a single movement. This material quality allows people to experi¬ence his drawings as an object rather than as a flat surface, which is what they actually are.