The Drawing Center (New York) presented Ken Price: Slow and Steady Wins the Race, Works on Paper, 1962–2010 (June 19–August 18, 2013), the first comprehensive survey of drawings by the sculptor Ken Price (1935–2012). It is a selection of 65 works on paper that tracks Price’s fifty years of dedication to drawing. This exhibition opened concurrently with the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s presentation of the traveling retrospective of Price’s sculpture that originated at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It was organized by Douglas Dreishpoon, Chief Curator at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, where the exhibition is currently on view through January 19, 2014. Its final stop will be the Harwood Museum of Art (February 22 to May 4, 2014), in Price’s hometown of Taos, New Mexico.
Price has sustained a quiet storm of creativity through drawing that remained under the art world’s radar until recently. Drawing has a time-honored status among sculptors: it’s an expedient way to dream on paper without having to worry about an idea’s material realization. For years Price drew with no audience in mind. Drawing was a means to explore multiple themes early on in his process. Some of the drawings are decidedly sculptural. He used them to visualize an object’s physical properties and presentation, and, in some instances, to determine if it was worth tackling in clay. From the start, drawing also functioned as a way to relax, to stretch out and improvise imaginary scenes, and, at times, to fantasize. Price always approached drawing as an independent endeavor with its own inherent challenges and rewards.
Viewing this show in New York, where it was elegantly and spaciously hung, was richly rewarding; it was an intense pleasure to bathe in Price’s polychromatic delight and precise, masterful draftsmanship. Price began his art education in 1952, taking classes in life drawing and cartooning at Chouinard Art Institute (now California Institute of the Arts) before moving on to ceramics. If there is any criticism at all, it is that the show was not enough. It was like going out for the night, eating delicious hors d’oeuvres and being sent home without dinner. I would happily have traded the spacious layout for dense clusters of drawings hung salon style—and gone home sated.
Garth Clark is the Curator and Chief Editor of CFile.
Ken Price, Frog Cups, 1967. Acrylic, graphite, and colored pencil on paper mounted on board, 14 x 10 3/4 inches (36 x 28 cm). Estate of Ken Price, Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery
Ken Price, Chinese Figurine Cup, 1969. Acrylic and graphite on lithograph proof, 22 x 18 inches (55.9 x 45.7 cm). Collection Jackson Price
Ken Price, Study for Oval Plate, 1974. Acrylic, graphite, and colored pencil on paper, 14 x 11 inches (35.6 x 27.9 cm). Collection Jackson Price
Ken Price, Untitled, 1992. Acrylic and ink on paper, 20 1/4 x 25 3/4 inches (51.4 x 65.4 cm). Museum of Modern Art: The Judith Rothschild Foundation Contemporary Drawings Collection