Conversations in Drawing: Seven Centuries of Art from the Gray Collection

February 19, 2021 through June 6, 2021

This exhibition celebrates the remarkable collection of drawings assembled by the collecting couple Richard Gray, one of America’s foremost art dealers, and art historian Mary L. Gray. Amassed over the course of nearly 50 years and encompassing works produced in Europe and the United States between the fifteenth and the twenty-first centuries, the collection provides a stimulating stroll through a long and distinguished history of art making via one medium: drawing.

Many of the works included in the exhibition focus on the human figure, underscoring the role of art as a window onto our shared humanity. While established names appear throughout the display—Boucher, Degas, Hockney, Matisse, Picasso, Rubens, Seurat, and Van Gogh, among others—the Grays were more interested in skill than in celebrity, and many of their exceptional drawings bear the names of lesser-known draftsmen. Keenly aware of their place in the history art, many of the artists consistently engaged in lively conversations with their contemporaries and forebears. Juxtaposing drawings from distinct periods and places, this exhibition explores these visual connections, highlighting the affinities and tensions that have emerged over the course of the medium’s long history.

Conversations in Drawing: Seven Centuries of Art from the Gray Collection was organized by The Art Institute of Chicago in cooperation with the Morgan Library & Museum.

The exhibition is made possible by an anonymous donor.

Pablo Picasso (1881–1973)
Two Dancers, 1925
© 2021 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Photo by Jamie Stukenberg, Professional Graphics Inc.