Joan Jonas: Animal, Vegetable, Mineral

Joan Jonas: Animal, Vegetable, Mineral is the first major retrospective focused on works on paper by Joan Jonas, one of the most significant experimental voices in American art of the postwar period. Although Jonas’s work has received critical attention and acclaim over the past few decades, her voluminous drawing oeuvre, which constitutes the backbone of her video, performance, and sculpture practices, has never been surveyed. This exhibition is a definitive look at the integral place of drawing in the career of this pioneering artist. Animal, Vegetable, Mineral occupies the entirety of The Drawing Center’s gallery spaces and features more than three hundred individual drawings dating from the 1960s to the present as well as a recent drawing environment.

Chosen from more than 2,000 works on paper drawn by Jonas over a sixty-year period, Animal, Vegetable, Mineral examines the significance of the artist’s use of the medium of drawing as a recording device, an expression of the notion of process, and a way to bring imagery of the natural world into her performances and environments. Jonas’s drawings depict dogs and other mammals like horses and foxes, as well as birds, butterflies, fish, snowflakes, shells, rocks, leaves, and even rivulets of water. Over the years, the artist has also drawn herself, isolating individual body parts like her hands, face, and torso, creating atomized self-portraits that are as studied and carefully rendered as her lexicons of non-human animals.

Joan Jonas: Animal, Vegetable, Mineral is organized by Laura Hoptman, The Drawing Center’s Executive Director, with Rebecca DiGiovanna and working in close collaboration with the SoHo-based artist. It will run concurrently with a retrospective of Jonas’s work at MoMA, on view from March 17 through July 6, 2024.

Digital Guide

Explore this exhibition further online using our digital guide, available for free as part of the Bloomberg Connects app. By downloading the app on your mobile device, you can discover other exhibition guides, drawing activities, and educational resources.


Past Programs