1 exhibition, 3 takes: ‘Ways of Seeing’ at Drawing Center explores Jack Shear’s vast collection

1 exhibition, 3 takes: ‘Ways of Seeing’ at Drawing Center explores Jack Shear’s vast collection

Running through Feb. 20, 2022, “Ways of Seeing: Three Takes on the Jack Shear Drawing Collection” at the Drawing Center explores artist, curator and Ellsworth Kelly Foundation President Jack Shear’s personal drawing collection.

The exhibition is presented through three separate installations by three different curators: Shear (on view Oct. 2 – Nov. 7), artist Arlene Shechet (Nov. 13 – Dec. 23), and critic and curator Jarrett Earnest (Jan. 15 – Feb. 20). Each curator had unlimited access to Shear’s sprawling collection of over 700 drawings; “Ways of Seeing,” therefore, is as much about the curation and layout of the exhibition in each rendition as it is about the vast array of works.

“[The curators’] selections of drawings will be guided by their own sensibilities and experiences, and in the end, their personal beliefs concerning the presentation and reception of art,” the Drawing Center said in a statement.

Agnes Martin, “The Great Rose of Evening,” 1962. Ink on paper, 8 3/4 x 8 3/4 inches (22.2 x 22.2 cm). Jack Shear Collection © Agnes Martin Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Willem de Kooning, “Abstractions,” c. 1950s. Sapolin enamel on diagram paper (4 sheets), 18 1/8 x 24 inches (46 x 61 cm). Jack Shear Collection © 2021 The Willem de Kooning Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Included in Shear’s collection, amassed over half a decade, are art pieces spanning from the 16th century to present day from renowned artists like Salvador Dalí, Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Henri Matisse, Alice Neel, David Hockney, Pablo Picasso, Edgar Degas and more.

Though many curators at museums and galleries typically follow contextual or historical concepts for exhibitions, adding in educational blurbs beside some of the works, Shear’s unique approach to curating “Ways of Seeing” follows a similar unfurling to the way in which the artworks are hung in his upstate New York studio: rarely any text, with the drawings sometimes sat directly side-by-side, or stacked above and below one another, clustered together with visual qualities and components in mind.

Installation view, Ways of Seeing: Three Takes on the Jack Shear Drawing Collection (Take One: Jack Shear), October 2–November 7, 2021. Photo by Daniel Terna. Courtesy of The Drawing Center.
André Derain, “La Danse,” c.1905–06. Opaque and transparent watercolor and graphite on paper, 18 1/2 x 25 1/4 inches (47 x 64.1 cm). Jack Shear Collection © 2021 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

“I want you to actually look at the drawing,” he explains in a video on the Drawing Center’s website. “How was it made? Or, why was it made? Or, why is it here? Why did Jack collect it? All of those issues are what I want you to think about as you’re seeing something.”

On view now, Shechet’s installation features a number of new picks unseen in Shear’s take. However, though she follows a loose theme of “connectivity and intimacy” within her chosen artworks, according to the Drawing Center, her approach to curation follows a similarly imaginative quality to Shear.

Installation view, Ways of Seeing: Three Takes on the Jack Shear Drawing Collection, Take Two: Arlene Shechet, Nov 13–Dec 23, 2021. Photo by Daniel Terna. Courtesy of The Drawing Center

Shechet, a sculptor, brings her artistic practice into the curation of “Ways of Seeing” through four wooden benches she hand-carved placed in the center of the room. Inspired by “Natura Morta” by Giorgio Morandi (1962), featured in her installation, she also hand-painted the walls a similar palette.

Giorgio Morandi, “Natura Morta,” 1959. Watercolor on paper, 9 1/4 x 6 3/4 inches (23.5 x 17.1 cm). Jack Shear Collection © 2021 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE, Rome.
Henri Michaux, “Sans titre (Untitled),” 1954. Opaque and transparent watercolor on paper, 17 3/8 x 22 inches (44.1 x 55.9 cm). Jack Shear Collection © 2021 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

Earnest will close out “Ways of Seeing” with his take on the exhibition, which is anchored by two works from artists Vija Celmins and Henri Michaux. He believes the pieces represent two different drawing modalities, according to a spokesperson from the Drawing Center.

For more information about tickets, hours and more, visit the Drawing Center’s website.

Top Image: From left to right: Portions of Joaquín Torres-García, "Composición (Composition)"; 1930, Rashid Johnson, "Untitled Anxious Red Drawing," (2020); and Francis Picabia, "Transparence [Transparency]," c.1930–1933 © 2021 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Jack Shear Collection.