Ad Libs: Drawing the past and present | Ad Libs | Rebecca Wallace | Palo Alto Online |

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By Rebecca Wallace

About this blog: I grew up in Menlo Park and have long been involved with both local journalism and local theater. After starting my career as an editorial intern with The Almanac, I was a staff reporter for the Almanac and the San Mateo County Ti...  (More)

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Ad Libs: Drawing the past and present

Uploaded: Jul 30, 2013
The lights are dim, and some of the images require bend-in, squint-close viewing. Magnifying glasses hang on the walls here and there. We're grateful to find them.

It all makes sense when you reflect that we're looking at fragile drawings on paper from hundreds of years ago. Can chalk and graphite really live this long? If the conditions are right.

Now at the Cantor Arts Center, the Blanton Museum's "Storied Past" show of French drawings may not be the most dynamic of exhibitions, but up-close viewing has its rewards. Jean-Baptiste Greuze's delicate "Arms of a Girl Holding a Bird," carefully drawn in red chalk on cream paper. Nicolas Lancret's barely-there "Study of a Man" in black and white chalks. The subtlety of everyday life in a medium we've all tried our hands at.

Striking bright spots emerged where the artists used white chalk as highlights: on faces, figures, sparks of sky. In Theodore Rousseau's 19th-century "A Marshy River Landscape" (pictured), the glints of chalk in charcoal feel like hope on a dark day.

To read this blog in its entirety, go to Ad Libs.
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