Grey matters: Graphite

The mineral graphite derives its name from the Ancient Greek 'to draw/write'. It is one of the most common materials used for drawing, and also one of the most versatile, allowing the artist to exploit a vast range of effects, from a needle-sharp contour line to the velvety depths of soft pencil shading, sometimes worked into a gleaming, almost metallic, sheen.

This exhibition highlights the extraordinary expressive potential of the medium through four centuries of graphite drawings from the Museum's holdings. It will include 17th century 'plumbago' portraits miniatures on vellum, vigorous compositional sketches by George Romney, and superb portrait drawings by master draughtsmen, Ingres, Degas, and Augustus John. In marked contrast, the contemporary artist Christopher Cook pushes the medium to the opposite extreme, by using a 'primal soup' of graphite powder, oil, resin and solvents to create enigmatic imagery that blurs the boundaries between drawing, painting, and photography.

Graphite is the first in a series, Grey Matters, which sets out to explore the impact of the greyscale on the artistic imagination.

Look out on our events pages for associated events and workshops in January and February 2012.

Image credit: Christopher Cook, Drivetime, 2003

Tue 29 November 2011 to Sun 11 March 2012
Shiba Gallery (14)

Related Links

To explore more works in graphite visit the web site for Kettle's Yard, the collection of modern art of the University of Cambridge.


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Grey matters: Graphite

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