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Ways of Seeing: Three Takes on the Jack Shear Drawing Collection

Ways of Seeing: Three Takes on the Jack Shear Drawing Collection is a three-part exhibition that focuses on the extraordinary drawing collection of artist, curator, and President of the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation Jack Shear. Continuing The Drawing Center’s tradition of exhibiting drawings from outstanding public and private collections, Ways of Seeing offers a revealing experiment in connoisseurship and exhibition-making. During the course of the exhibition’s fifteen-week run, artist Arlene Shechet, critic and curator Jarrett Earnest, and Shear himself will each present an installation curated from Shear’s holdings, which consist of nearly seven hundred drawings dating from the sixteenth century to the present.

Take One: Jack Shear, Oct 2–Nov 7, 2021
Take Two: Arlene Shechet, Nov 13–Dec 23, 2021
Take Three: Jarrett Earnest, Jan 15–Feb 20, 2022

In the first installation of Ways of Seeing, on view from October 2 through November 7, Shear adopts a unique approach to hanging his collection, placing drawings alongside, directly on top of, or abutting other works on the basis of intuited visual affinities regardless of context or historical provenance.

On view from November 13 through December 23, Arlene Shechet’s interpretation of Jack Shear’s collection is presented on the heels of Shear’s own installation. Taking an equally inventive approach, Shechet has chosen artworks by a diverse group of figures, some of whom featured in Shear’s installation and many of whom did not, including Lee Bontecou, Edward Burne-Jones, Salvador Dalí, Elaine de Kooning, Robert Gober, Marsden Hartley, Lee Lozano, Agnes Martin, Henri Matisse, Elizabeth Murray, Jim Nutt, Odilon Redon, Georges Seurat, Al Taylor, and Joseph Yoakum, among many others.

Shechet’s selection of drawings, all of which highlight connectivity and intimacy, compliment her careful consideration of the viewing environment. As a sculptor, Shechet addresses the physical space of The Drawing Center’s galleries, installing four of her own hand-carved wooden benches to connect the center of the room with the walls hung with drawings. Her intervention creates a three-dimensional drawing in itself, within which visitors can gather for reflection and repose. Inspired by one of the works on view—Natura morta (1962) by Giorgio Morandi, whose still-lifes are meditations on the interrelationship of all things—Shechet hand-painted the walls with hues culled from the Italian artist’s palette. The result is a dynamic communal space that embodies the idea that how we see art is fundamental to what we see.

Taken together, the exhibition’s successive iterations—curated by Jack Shear, Arlene Shechet, and Jarret Earnest, respectively—offer a revealing experiment in connoisseurship and exhibition-making.

Curatorial Bios:

  • Jack Shear

    Jack Shear is a photographer, curator, and art collector living and working in Spencertown, NY. He previously collaborated with Anne Philbin on Drawn from Artists’ Collections, on view at The Drawing Center from Apr 24–Jun 12, 1999, and co-curated Twice Drawn at the Tang Teaching Museum with Director Ian Berry. Shear’s collection has previously been on view in the exhibition Borrowed Light: Selections from the Jack Shear Collection at the Tang Teaching Museum. Most recently, his drawings were on view at the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, Texas. His own photographs are in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Shear is also President of the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation, and serves on the Drawings & Prints Committee at the Museum of Modern Art.

  • Arlene Shechet

    Arlene Shechet is a multidisciplinary sculptor living and working in New York City and the Hudson Valley. A critically-acclaimed twenty-year survey of the artist’s work, All At Once, was on view at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston in 2015. Shechet has designed and curated exhibitions including Porcelain, No Simple Matter: Arlene Shechet and the Arnhold Collection, on view at The Frick Collection, New York (2016–17), and From Here on Now at The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC (2016–17). Her ambitious large-scale public project Full Steam Ahead featured monumental porcelain and mixed media sculptures installed in Madison Square Park, New York (2018–19). Shechet’s first solo show at Pace Gallery, Skirts, opened in New York in February 2020. The monograph Arlene Shechet: Skirts (Pace Publishing, 2020) includes an essay by scholar Rachel Silveri and interviews with the artist by Deborah Solomon and Michaëla Mohrmann. Shechet currently has work on view in New York at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Jewish Museum, and the Museum of Arts and Design. Upcoming projects include exhibitions in Hong Kong and Los Angeles, as well as a historical and contemporary installation that Shechet has designed for the Harvard Art Museums and a permanent sculpture commission for the Stuart Collection at the University of California San Diego.

  • Jarrett Earnest

    Writer and curator Jarrett Earnest has contributed criticism and long form interviews to publications including What it Means to Write About Art: Interviews with Art Critics (David Zwirner Books, 2018), The Brooklyn Rail, Vulture, The Village Voice, Los Angeles Review of Books, Art in America, Art Practical, Riot of Perfume, SFAQ, The Miami Rail, Cultured, Elephant, New York Magazine, diSONARE, and many exhibition catalogs. He has recently curated exhibitions including The Young and the Evil at David Zwirner, NY (February 21–April 13, 2019) and Closer as Love: Polaroids 1993–2007: Breyer P-Orridge at Nina Johnson, Miami (October 3–November 23, 2019). Earnest was also the editor of Hot, Cold, Heavy, Light: 100 Art Writings 1988–2017 by Peter Schjeldahl (Abrams, June 2019), TELL ME SOMETHING GOOD: Artist Interviews from the Brooklyn Rail (with Lucas Zwirner; David Zwirner Books, 2017), and FORBILL, ANYTHING: Words and Images for Bill Berkson (with Isabelle Sorrell; Pressed Wafer, 2015). Some of Earnest’s most recent writing includes “Excerpt from Drag Diary” in Ursula (Issue 6, Spring 2020); “Willi Smith in Pieces” in Willi Smith: Street Couture (Rizzoli, March 2020); and a contribution to the accompanying publication for The Young and Evil: Queer Modernism in New York 1930–1955, entitled “History of Intimacy” (David Zwirner Books, 2020).

Organized by Claire Gilman, The Drawing Center’s Chief Curator, with curators Jack Shear, Arlene Shechet, and Jarrett Earnest, and with the assistance of Isabella Kapur, Curatorial Associate.

Digital Guide

Explore this exhibition further online using our new 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.

Download Digital Guide


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