The UCLA Hammer Museum will present publicly for the first time an exhibition of drawings from the collection of Oscar-winning lyricist Hal David and his wife Eunice.
A promised gift to the Museum’s Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts, “The Eunice and Hal David Collection of Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Works on Paper” will be on view from November through February 8. The collection features approximately 60 drawings by 48 celebrated artists who have shaped the course of art history.
Artists represented span a period of 200 years and include Eugene DeLacroix, Edouard Manet, Mary Cassatt, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Gustave Caillebotte, Winslow Homer, Gustav Klimt, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Fernand Leger, Georgia O’Keeffe, Alexander Calder, Robert Motherwell, Richard Diebenkorn, Isamu Noguchi, Andy Warhol, Sam Francis and David Hockney.
After its debut at the UCLA Hammer Museum, the exhibit will travel to the Portland Art Museum, Oregon, in July 2004.
“The Eunice and Hal David Collection of Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Works on Paper” is distinctly personal, a great reflection on Hal and Eunice’s interests and passion. At the same time, the collection is remarkable for its breadth — comprising works by almost 50 prominent European and American artists,” said Ann Philbin, director of the UCLA Hammer Museum. “The museum’s exhibition, presenting the entire collection publicly for the first time, will offer visitors a marvelous opportunity to discover numerous approaches to drawing by some of the most influential artists of the past 200 years.”
The works in the exhibition reflect various approaches to drawings including exploratory sketches, preliminary drawings for paintings and large-scale or highly finished presentation drawings. The works employ the techniques of graphite, pen and ink, chalk, watercolor and gouache. Most of the drawings depict figurative subject matter, though there is also a selection of abstract, nonfigurative compositions.
The Davids’ interest in representations of the human figure was already present in their first purchase, Pierre Bonnard’s “Standing Nude Looking in Mirror,” circa 1920-25, and deepened as the collection grew to include works such as Edgar Degas’ “Dancer, Arm Too Far behind the Head,” circa 1880-85; Gustav Klimt’s “Study for a Satyr Carrying Drum,” circa 1886-88; and David Hockney’s “Celia Smoking,” 1974.
The diminutive scale of Bonnard’s graphite drawing of a female figure seen from the back as she quietly observes herself in a mirror is countered by the more dramatic diagonal pose of Degas’s ballerina, sketched in charcoal as she practices her movements. Klimt’s Nineteenth Century drawing of a naked Satyr — a preparatory drawing and rare example of a figurative study by the artist — is an interesting contrast to Hockney’s Twentieth Century pencil drawing of Celia, one of the most important subjects among his numerous portraits.
In addition to figurative drawings, examples of abstract art can also be seen in the exhibition. Sam Francis’s “Study for Chase Mural,” 1959, and Robert Motherwell’s untitled (Elegy), 1980, both demonstrate a modernist aesthetic through abstraction of form.
Although many people think of drawings as monochromatic, color is strongly present throughout the exhibition, contributing to an overall effect of ebullience in the galleries. The key roles of color and richness of media in these drawings are exemplified by works such as Paul Signac’s “Rocheforte,” 1930 and Fernand Leger’s “Starfish,” 1937. The vibrancy of Signac’s neo-Impressionist watercolor suggests the shimmering effect of sunlight upon the surface of water, exhibiting the artist’s research on color theory and the placement of pure colors next to one another; in contrast, the floating form of Leger’s starfish is created by vivid solid colors, encapsulated by thick black contour outlines.
The exhibition is organized by the UCLA Hammer Museum. The curator is Cynthia Burlingham, senior curator of the Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts and deputy director of collections at the museum. Accompanying the exhibition is a fully illustrated catalog with an essay by Lee Hendrix, curator of drawings at the J.Paul Getty Museum, and extended entries on each work by Hammer curatorial staff members Cynthia Burlingham, Claudine Dixon, Claudine Ise and Carolyn Peter, as well as Judith Brodie, Carol S. Eliel, Noriko Gamblin, Robert Hobbs, Amy Schichtel and Marilyn Symmes.
The museum, open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 11 am to 7 pm; Thursday, 11 am to 9 pm; and Sunday, 11 am to 5 pm, is at 10899 Wilshire Boulevard. Admission is $5. For information, 310-433-7041.