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Roni Horn's Drawings Get the First Museum Show in the US

  • Roni Horn - The Dog's Chorus
February 19, 2019
Balasz Takac is alias of Vladimir Bjelicic who is actively engaged in art criticism, curatorial and artistic practice.

During the 1980s, a variety of media was practiced by the artists, but painting was quite dominant due to an increasing interest of collectors around the globe. Despite the potential market value of their works, certain artists decided to pursue more conceptual, introspective, intimate and even slightly marginal approaches in order to remain loyal to their creative visions, and one of them was Roni Horn.

Although the artist’s drawing-based practice is recognized and critically acclaimed, her entire oeuvre is currently showcased in a US museum for the first time and will be conducted in two parts at the Menil Drawing Institute.

Roni Horn - If 2
Roni Horn – If 2, 2011. Pigment, varnish, colored pencil, and graphite pencil on paper. Sheet: 101 9/16 × 101 15/16 in. (258 × 259 cm). Frame: 103 1/4 × 106 × 3 1/2 in. (262.3 × 269.2 × 8.9 cm). La Colección Jumex, Mexico.

The Drawing As A Primary Media

For more than three decades, the contemporary American artist Roni Horn has been producing drawings, and this media of choice remained fundamental to her practice. To be more precise, drawing is a powerful tool for articulation and expression of concepts such as time, place, language and identity.

The upcoming exhibition in two parts will feature different stages of her oeuvre from the early 1980s until the present day. The audience will have a unique opportunity to get acquainted with the specificities of her approach characterized by mark-making, dense hues of pure pigment and process of cutting and reassembling images and language.

Left Roni Horn - Or 7 Right Roni Horn - Brooklyn Red
Left: Roni Horn – Or 7, 2014. Powdered pigment, graphite, charcoal, colored pencil, and varnish on paper. Sheet: 109 1/2 × 101 1/2 in. (278.1 × 257.8 cm) Frame: 113 3/4 × 106 1/8 × 3 1/2 in. (288.9 × 269.6 × 8.9 cm). Glenstone Museum, Potomac, Maryland / Right: Roni Horn – Brooklyn Red, 1985. Powdered pigment, graphite, charcoal, colored pencil, and varnish on paper. Sheet: 13 × 11 in. (33 × 27.9 cm). Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. © Roni Horn

The Works

The first part of the exhibition features Horn’s large scale drawings which feature disintegrating shapes; those forms are contrasted by the artist’s meticulous moves in graphite. These works reflect a sentimental and largely personal testimony which captivates the gaze of the beholder.

On the other hand, the second part will display a selection of drawings saturated with red, as well as an extensive series of drawings that exemplify Horn’s experimental technique of cutting as a form of drawing. The artist used carefully dismantled pieces from the famous texts by William Shakespeare and Gertrude Stein.

Roni Horn - Clownout
Roni Horn – Clownout (2), 2004. 2 C-print photographs cut and reassembled. Sheet: 55 1/2 × 65 in. (141 × 165.1 cm). Frame: 58 1/4 × 67 3/4 × 2 3/8 in. (148 × 172.1 × 6 cm). Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. © Roni Horn

Roni Horn at The Menil Drawing Institute

The title of the exhibition is practically the definition of the artist’s perception of the drawing as a medium, since Horn firmly claims that this activity is of great relevance same as breathing activity on a daily level. Senior Curator of The Collection Michelle White who curated the exhibition stated:

For Roni Horn, drawing is not static. It is a process: a way of thinking, a way of being, and a way of remembering her experience of place in and through the world. Her approach to discipline is an allegory of discovery and invention. It is intuitive, improvisational, intimate, and so fundamental and necessary to her that she compares it to the life-sustaining act of breathing.

The artist was invited by the Menil Drawing Institute to install her latest wall drawing titled Wits’ End Sampler which consists of hundreds of clichés and hand-written idioms collected by the artist over the years.

Roni Horn: When I Breathe, I Draw, Part I will be on display at The Menil Drawing Institute in Houston, Texas until 5 May 2019, while Part II will be on display from 7 June until 1 September 2019.

Featured image: Roni Horn – The Dog’s Chorus. Let Slip to the Ends of the Earth, 2016. Watercolor, pen and ink, gum arabic on paper with tape. Sheet (Left drawing): 26 3/4 × 21 in. (67.9 × 53.3 cm). Frame (Left drawing): 29 7/8 × 23 3/4 × 1 5/8 in. (75.9 × 60.3 × 4.1 cm). Sheet (Center drawing): 29 1/2 × 20 in. (74.9 × 50.8 cm). Frame (Center drawing): 32 5/8 × 23 1/8 × 1 5/8 in. (82.9 × 58.7 × 4.1 cm). Sheet (Right drawing): 29 3/4 × 19 in. (75.6 × 48.3 cm). Frame (Right drawing): 33 × 22 1/8 × 1 5/8 in. (83.8 × 56.2 × 4.1 cm). Installed (All 3 individually framed on wall together): 32 13/16 × 65 1/2 in. (83.3 × 166.4 cm). All images courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. © Roni Horn