Marks of Genius: 100 Extraordinary Drawings from the Minneapolis Institute of Art

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56.4MINNEAPOLIS, MAY 7–This summer, the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) showcases an exemplary selection of its rarely seen, superb drawings collection in “Marks of Genius: 100 Extraordinary Drawings from the Minneapolis institute of Arts.” This special exhibition marks the first time this selection of drawings, which spans over 500 years, will be seen together by the public. Featured artist include celebrated masters such as Ludovico Carracci, Guercino, Thomas Gainsborough, Eugène Delacroix, Edgar Degas, Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, René Magritte, and Georgia O’Keeffe. “Marks of Genius” opens at the MIA and will be on view July 13 through September 21, 2014. The exhibition will then travel to the Grand Rapids Art Museum in Michigan, the North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, and the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska. A fully illustrated catalogue.

“Due to their sensitivity to light, drawings are exhibited for only short periods of time and are otherwise kept in dark storage,” says exhibition curator Rachel McGarry. While works from the museum’s large paper collection—over 40,000 prints and drawings—can be seen by appointment in the Herschel V. Jones Print Study, “Marks of Genius” is a rare opportunity for the public to see the cream of this collection. “In a way, we are opening up our treasury to the public,” McGarry says.

“Marks of Genius” is exhibited at an apropos time. The MIA’s “treasury” of drawings, which includes over 2,600 works, has increased by 20 percent since 2009. Several of these recent additions will be on view for the first time in this show.

The exhibition brings to life the immediacy of drawings and explores its multiple roles as a means of study, observation, problem solving, a record of the artist’s imagination, and a medium for creating finished works of art. The thematic display highlights these different aspects of drawing:

• “ Spark of Creation” features “first draft” sketches and inventions. This portion of the exhibition, showcasing the immediacy of the artistic process, features works such as Giuseppe Bazzani’s Pan and Syrinx, c. 1760, and George Romney’s Study for ‘The Lapland Witch,’ completed c. 1775–77.
• “ From Life” is a section which features various observational studies drawn from nature throughout history. Notable works include Käthe Kollwitz’s c. 1903 Two Studies of a Woman’s Head and Pierre-Joseph Redouté’s Amaryllis lutea. c. 1800-06.
• “ Portrait Drawings” presents works such as Lovis Corinth’s Self-Portrait completed in 1908 and Egon Schiele’s Standing Girl, c. 1910.
• “Figural Abstraction” a section which documents artists’ studies of human forms and expression. Works featured in this section include Guercino’s Hercules, (1641–42) and Ernst Kircher’s Seated Woman in the Studio, completed in 1909.
• “ Storytelling” presents drawings with a narrative theme, such as Arthur Rackham’s Little Red Riding Hood, 1909, and Ludovico Carracci’s Judith Beheading Holoferenes, c. 1581–85.
Other themes include “Sense of Place” with Emil Nolde’s Heavy Seas at Sunset, c. 1930–35, and “Appropriation” with Roy Lichtenstein’s 1962 Bratatat!

“ Marks of Genius” will be activated with a “Drawing Studio” located in the last gallery of the exhibition. Inspired by the works on view, visitors are invited to try their hand at creating drawings based on the exhibition’s themes. Additionally, “Marks of Genius” opens on a Family Day, the MIA’s free monthly event for families, kids, and the young at heart, held on the second Sunday of every month.

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated, 300-page hardcover catalogue, Master Drawings from the Minneapolis Institute of Art. The book includes more than 225 illustrations, essays by Rachel McGarry and Thomas Rassieur, and contributions by other MIA scholars. It retails for $59.99 in the museum’s store and can be ordered online at or by calling (612) 870-3000.