Morgan Library curator talks about century-spanning exhibit

Dürer to de Kooning: 100 Master Drawings from Munich,” currently at the Morgan Library & Museum features drawings from Picasso, Michelangelo and Munich, represent a rich variety of masterworks from renaissance to the modern periods. The Eye talked to Jennifer Tonkovich, curator at The Morgan Library & Museum about the show.

Which drawings are the ones you are most excited to see personally?
One of the groups that I was excited to see were the eighteenth century German drawings, because there are not many of them in this country, and they really represent some of the greatest achievements of the German Baroque and Rococo period. And Munich has such a wonderful collection and these artists are a revelation.

And one of the other drawings that I was most excited about is a drawing by Matthias Grünewald, in part because he is such a rare draftsman. There’s only a little over 2000 drawings by his hand. He is somebody who was iconic.

 This is the first time to introduce such large number of drawings from a German museum. What do you think to be the cultural importance of such an exhibit?
In the field of the drawings, it’s unlike paintings. If you go to Munich, you wouldn’t see these drawings on the wall of a museum. So for us, the importance of these exchanges is to share with the public great drawings from collections that they wouldn’t otherwise see. It gives our audience the opportunity to see these drawings that they would have to sacrifice a week of sightseeing in order to go to the study room and request.

In many past exhibitions, drawings do not often attract much public attention. What do you think to be the reason?
Well, it’s funny. I know Holland Cotter says that, and other people say that. First of all, I’m not entirely sure that that’s true. Second of all, I think that perception is because painting shows are often heavily promoted. I think that there are various reasons that the painting shows may be more high-profile, but we have established a very devoted core audience. There’s clearly people out there who care about this material, and are really intrigued by the opportunity to see material that isn’t always on the wall.

What are your suggestions for visitors who are not art experts? What should they have in mind when they are looking at these drawings?
I would say go to the show and find what interests you. A hundred drawings are a lot drawings to look through. The good thing is I give a lot of talks, I take people through, and each time, it differs. A different drawing catches my mind; a different drawing interests me. People should go to the show and find what they respond to, what intrigues them, what they want to know more about, and then take the time to look very closely at that. I think that can be really rewarding.


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