A Luminous Line: Silverpoint and Metalpoint Drawing

Speaker: Susan Schwalb - Artist

Susan Schwalb has worked in silverpoint and metalpoint drawing for over 40 years. Metalpoint drawing, briefly discussed in the fourteenth century by Cennino Cennini in Il Libro dell’Arte, saw its first heyday during the Florentine Renaissance, then traveled north before largely disappearing from art history for hundreds of years. It was revived in Victorian England before being brought to the United States where it was written about by James Watrous and practiced by American artists like Joseph Stella and Paul Cadmus. A major reinvigoration of the medium began in the 1970s in America by artists such as Schwalb, who adapted the medium for abstract work and began to teach and write about metalpoint in particular. Now hundreds of artists use metalpoint for work in diverse figurative, abstract, and conceptual styles. Her new book is the first treatise on the subject with chapters on early history; materials including grounds, supports, metals, and tools; techniques for working in metalpoint as well as mixed media. A chapter on contemporary metalpoint lists over 40 artists that span the twentieth century up to today. In her talk Schwalb will present a short historical overview of the medium along with some basic technical information and then show an overview of her work since 1977.

Susan Schwalb is one of the foremost figures in the current silverpoint revival. Born in New York City in 1944 she studied at Carnegie-Mellon University and has had over 50 solo exhibitions in galleries and museums world-wide.  Her work is represented in most major public collections, including The Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin, the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, and the British Museum, London. Schwalb was one of only three living artists included in the historical metalpoint exhibition Drawing with Silver and Gold: From Leonardo to Jasper Johns at the National Gallery of Art, Washington which traveled to the British Museum in 2015. Her book written along with a co-author Tom Mazzullo, ‘Silverpoint and Metalpoint Drawing: A Complete Guide to the Medium’, was published in 2019 by Routledge/Focal Press, UK. Her two-person exhibition of metalpoint paintings and drawings will open on April 29 through June 1, 2019 at Patrick Heide Contemporary Art, London, with a reception on May 8 from 5-8pm.

Organised by Dr Alixe Bovey (The Courtauld) 

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7 May 2019

Tuesday 7th May 2019

The Courtauld Institute of Art, Vernon Square, Penton Rise, King’s Cross, London