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Drawings & Notes

7 January 2023
drawing Robert Longo Study of After Mitchell; Bleu, bleu, le ciel bleu, 1961, 202 Ink and charcoal on vellum - contemporary drawing, drawings, work on paper, contemporary art, art on paper

Robert Longo

Study of After Mitchell; Bleu, bleu, le ciel bleu, 1961, 2022
Ink and charcoal on vellum
81.8 x 53 cm

Robert LongoThe New Beyond
17 October 2022 – 7 January 2023
Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris

Robert Longo
Untitled (After Soulages; Painting, 195 x 130 cm, May 1953; 1953), 2022
Charcoal on mounted paper
243.8 x 161.8 cm

[from the pressrelease]
American artist Robert Longo presents his most recent series of monumental charcoal drawings paying homage to the European pioneers of post-war art. Following his 2014 series of drawings based on American Abstract Expressionism, in this exhibition, Longo explores the work of Karel Appel, Sandra Blow, Jean Dubuffet, Sam Francis, Arshile Gorky, Hans Hartung, Hans Hofmann, Asger Jorn, Yves Klein, Willem de Kooning, Maria Lassnig, Piero Manzoni, Joan Mitchell, Pierre Soulages, Wols and Zao Wou-Ki. Transposing their disparate works into a large-scale format and shades of black and white, Longo brings together the different approaches of these painters to form a new, unified visual language (…)
The process of creating a charcoal drawing is almost entirely opposite to the process of creating a traditional painting. Starting with a white page, Longo gradually and meticulously darkens certain areas to create shadow, ending with the points of deepest black, whereas, in a traditional painting, highlights are applied at the end, over the darker tones. 
Where black and white photography tends to equalise darker shades of different colours, the artist also works to maintain the infinite nuances of the original colours in his shades of grey. Carefully analysing the colours of each original work, he carefully nuances his work to  distinguish what would originally have been a dark red from a dark blue (…)
Longo’s drawings are saturated with the time of their making. His approach is measured, even ‘forensic’. But as he studies every brushstroke, carefully recreating their material modulations and nuances of colour out of dry, black charcoal, he celebrates the materiality of paint that is, according to Font-Réaulx, ‘the sensitive and intimate meaning of these works’.
In this way, Longo not only establishes a dialogue between drawing and painting, but also calls into question the value systems of the art world, prompting us to revisit our relationship to images.

Robert Longo
Untitled (Nagasaki Bomb, 1945), 2022
Graphite and charcoal on paper
21.3 x 17.8 cm

Robert Longo
Untitled (After Appel; Amorous Dance, 1955), 2022
Charcoal on mounted paper
177.8 x 228.6 cm

Robert Longo
Study of After Hofmann; Laburnum, 1954, 2022
Ink and charcoal on vellum
53 x 66.2 cm

14 November 2019

Robert Longo

Untitled (Refugees Moonbird Sighting, Mediterranean Sea; May 5, 2017), 2019.
Charcoal on mounted paper,
246.4 x 304.8 cm

Robert Longo. Fugitive Images
14 November – 21
December 2019
Metro Pictures, New York

Robert Longo

Untitled (Statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee Covered;
Charlottesville, Virginia; August 12, 2017)
, 2018.
Charcoal on mounted paper,
304.8 x 241.9 cm

Robert Longo

Untitled (Russian Air Strike; Syria, 2015), 2017.
Charcoal on mounted paper
246.4 x 355.8 cm

[from the pressrelease
The eight monumental, hyperreal charcoal drawings in the exhibition continue Robert Longo’s “Destroyer Cycle,” a series that focuses on the indelible imagery generated by the current politics of power, greed, aggression, and inhumanity. The title Fugitive Images refers to the transitory appearance and displacement of impactful media images from across the globe. Longo believes it is morally imperative to secure their permanence.

Longo’s drawing of Jamal Khashoggi is central to the exhibition, which includes works depicting a range of world events from disparate locations. The journalist is shown disappearing into a field of static that recalls a television with poor reception, struggling to maintain the picture. In stark contrast to the evanescent portrait of the murdered journalist is a deeply humane drawing of a mass of migrants on a grueling journey from Central America. The work focuses on the faces and personal effects of the individual men, women, and children, who appear desperate and exhausted. Another drawing that shares the main gallery counters this sympathetic sentiment, showing a choreographed military parade of North Korean soldiers in an exaggerated, highly athletic, mechanized goose step commonly associated with dictatorial regimes and blind obedience.

The reference images that are the basis of Longo’s drawings are generally extensively altered and merged. His drawing of a Jewish cemetery in France crudely vandalized by Neo-Nazis is an exception. Longo maintains the legibility of the tombstones despite the spray-painted swastikas, which fail to obscure the engraved epitaphs of the people buried there––a widow, a religious man who lived a long life, and an honest hardworking man who died on Shabbat.

The exhibition ends with a moment of optimism, determination, and progress. Longo’s drawing of Congress during President Trump’s second State of the Union Address immortalizes the female representatives and lawmakers who chose to wear white in solidarity with the suffragette movement by portraying them as a blurred beacon of light within a sea of darkness.

A weblog about contemporary drawing, scribbles, notes and an occasional painting or photograph. Click on images to go directly to original pictures, or on the links to learn more about the artist involved. 

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