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New at the Morgan: Acquisitions Since 2004
April 17 through October 18, 2009

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Bruce Nauman
(American, born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, 1941)

Untitled (Study for Diamond Mind II), 1975
Graphite on paper
Inscription: Diamond Mind/Circle of Tears/Fallen All Around me/Fallen Mind/Mindless Tears/Cut like a Diamond/Layout -/12 pc. stone 7 1/2° Rhomboids/Granite 15" on a side
30 5/8 x 39 7/8 inches (778 x 1013 mm)
Gift of the Modern and Contemporary Collectors' Committee, 2008; 2008.10
Courtesy Sperone Westwater, New York.
© 2008 Bruce Nauman / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


Nauman's superb drawings reveal the creative process behind his work in other media, such as sculpture, performance, video, photography, and film. The present sheet is a study for a sculpture composed of twelve rhomboid blocks distributed in concentric circles, now in the collection of the Kröller-Müller Museum in the Netherlands. Arrows, corrections, and erasures document the artist's thought process through the particular space of the installation. Inscriptions on the drawing include not only practical instructions and dimensions but also a poetic text that recalls Nauman's interest in language and wordplay.


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Samuel Palmer (1805–1881)
Oak Tree and Beech, Lullingstone Park
Pencil, pen and brown ink, and watercolor, heightened with gouache, and gum arabic, on gray paper
Signed in pencil at lower left, S Palmer fec[t superscript]
11 5/8 x 18 7/16 in. (296 x 468 mm)
Thaw Collection; 2006.53

After meeting William Blake, who became a friend and mentor, in 1824, Palmer developed a form of Romantic landscape combining naturalist observation with a visionary style. This drawing depicts a view in Lullingstone Park, near the village of Shoreham in Kent. The artist focused on the giant oak in the foreground, suggesting the texture of its bark with a brilliant skein of dots, circles, and tiny scribbles. He conveyed light through an innovative application of yellow watercolor over white gouache, to which he applied gum arabic, imparting shine, and occasional dots of red watercolor.


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Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606–1669)
Four Musicians with Wind Instruments, ca. 1638
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, some red and yellow-ochre chalk
7 1/16 x 5 1/4 inches (179 x 135 mm)
Thaw Collection; 2004.42

Rembrandt may have made this drawing after witnessing a pageant in 1638 that included Africans and troupes of actors. The subject corresponds to descriptions of African musicians made at the time of the event. This work is one of four drawings on the subject; all display the same complex combination of media—atypical of Rembrandt's drawing technique—with red and yellow chalks, subtle tonal shifts from brown to reddish brown, and an impressively bold line.


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Alexander Ross
(American, born in Denver, Colorado, 1960)

Untitled, 2007
Colored pencil on paper
30 1/4 x 22 3/4 inches (768 x 578 mm)
Purchased as the gift of Whitney B. Armstrong and on the Young Associates Fund for Twentieth-Century Acquisitions; 2008.40
Photography by Kevin Noble, courtesy of David Nolan Gallery, NY.

Rossís fanciful images, derived from microscopic visions of cellular organisms, merge references to Surrealism, Philip Guston, and science fiction. In this drawing the close observation of nature generates an imaginary landscape made of strange, interlocking forms. Combining volume and flatness, nature and artifice, and abstraction and representation, Ross proposes a contemporary vision of nature at once playful and disquieting.


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John Singer Sargent (1856–1925)
Portrait of Paul-César Helleu, 1880s
Watercolor in tones of brown, tan, cream, gray, rose, and violet over pencil
9 1/4 x 14 3/8 in. (235 x 373 mm)
Gift of Rose Pitman Hughes and J. Lawrence Hughes in memory of Junius and Louise Morgan; 2005.5

This is Sargent's depiction of his close friend, the French painter and printmaker Paul César Helleu (1859–1927), whom he met in Paris around 1876. A former student of the academic painter Jean-Léon Gérôme, Helleu established his reputation in the 1890s with portraits of fashionable beauties. In 1912 he painted the ceiling of Grand Central Terminal in New York. The present drawing, begun with a pencil sketch and finished with broad strokes of watercolor brush, exhibits an immediacy characteristic of Sargent's portrait style.


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Egon Schiele (1890–1918)
Embrace, 1914
Graphite pencil
19 1/8 x 12 3/4 inches (485 x 323 mm)
Bequest of Fred Ebb; 2005.160

In this depiction of the artist in the arms of an unidentified companion, the jagged, seemingly erratic contours suggest a psychological agitation characteristic of Schiele's self-portraits. A feeling of tension derives from the position of the artist's head as well as from the placement of the couple to the left of the sheet, with the figure of the woman cropped. The resulting asymmetry conveys the artist's emotional unbalance and emphasizes his egocentric character while demonstrating the amazing technical agility he brought to bear to express a wide range of emotions.

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The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.