Sculptors’ Drawings, Pangolin and Kings Place Gallery, London

Are sculptors’ drawings different from those of painters? How do two-dimensional drawings work as preparatory studies for three-dimensional objects? What do they tell us about the creative process? This show of some 100 works on paper, including collages, prints and computer-aided graphics, is a collaboration between the two galleries at Kings Place and is the largest exhibition of sculptors’ drawings ever mounted.

Spanning the 20th and 21st centuries, it ranges from Jacob Epstein and Picasso to Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas, the Chapman Brothers and young emerging artists. Some pieces are detailed and highly finished – Aristide Maillol’s monumental “Back View of a Nude”, Marino Marini’s gouache and ink “Horse and Rider”; others – Antony Gormley’s “Days of Fire”, exploring the body in space in a series of frenetically whirling lines, for example – represent the germs of ideas. Drawing, says Gormley, is “a halfway house between the materiality of sculpture and the mentality of imagination”.

All the works here are revealing of the transition from initial thought to completed form. Among the surrealists, for instance, Giacometti’s expressive, brooding drawings, with their elongated perspectives, uncertainty of solid forms and interpenetration of mass and space, suggest the sculptor’s preoccupation with elusiveness of contour, sensation, existential mystery. Hans Arp’s flat coloured surfaces and precise biomorphic forms are, by contrast, the work of a painter turned sculptor, while the energy of Henry Moore’s drawings comes from the transformation of natural organic shapes into human forms.

“There is a general idea that sculptors’ drawings should be diagrammatic studies,” Moore wrote, “without any sense of background behind the object or of any atmosphere around it. That is, the object is stuck on a flat surface of the paper with no attempt to set it in space – and often not even to connect it with the ground, with gravity. And yet the sculptor is as much concerned with space as a painter.”

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