The selection of 60 drawings from Milan’s Ramo private collection of 20th century Italian art on paper at the Estorick (17 April – 23 June 2019) is pretty impressive indeed, with works by Umberto Boccioni, Giorgio de Chirico, Alighiero Boetti, Pino Pascali, Gino Severini, Fausto Melotti and many more. The drawings range from simple outlines such as Lucio Fontana’s I vigliacchi (Pratelli, Sironi, Ponti), 1933 to detailed light and shading in Cagnaccio di San Pietro’s Senza Titolo, 1941.
The very title of this exhibition begs the question, why the title? It arises from the curator’s challenge: “the cliched view is that drawing is somehow subordinate to painting and sculpture” and her response is “you can trust drawing, come close to them – there’s no need to be afraid”(Irina Zucca Alessandrelli).
But is there a need to launch the exhibition with the assumption that viewers consider drawing second to painting or sculpture? The Ramo collection - started in the 1990s by Pino Rabolini (1935-2018), founder of an Italian jewellery brand - is a testimony to the status of drawing as an art. More curiously, the works on display utilise more than the pencil or charcoal. Fabio Mauri’s magnificent montage of figures, End Screen, 1960, uses oil, ink, pastel and enamel. Roberto Crippa (Untitled – Spiral, 1960) employs florescent pink and red acrylic and Indian ink. Maria Lai’s delightful Diary cleverly weaves string into unintelligible words on paper and fabric. As the exhibition moves through its four phases - Abstractions?, Figurations?, Words + Images =? and What About Sculptors? - the boundaries of drawing, screen printing, painting and sculpture becomes increasingly blurred but no less enjoyable.
Drawings Top Left to Right: Roberto Crippa, Senza titolo (Spirale), 1960s; Cagnaccio di San Pietro, Senza titolo (Bozzetto per il Trittico dell’Ospedale al Mare del Lido di Venezia), c. 1941; Fabio Mauri Schermo fine, 1960s
Drawings Bottom Left to Right: Lucio Fontana, I vigliacchi (Pratelli, Sironi, Ponti), 1933; Pino Pascali, Senza titolo (Muffa), 1959; Umberto Boccioni, Controluce, 1910
Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, London
Twitter / @Estorick
Facebook.com / estorickcollection
Instagram.com / estorickcollection