Matthew Marks Gallery is currently hosting a retrospective of thirty-four Drawings from the estate of Ken Price, most on view for the first time. If you are not familiar with the work of the late ceramic artist and printmaker, this exhibit is an excellent introduction.
“I’ve been drawing since I can remember,” Price has said. “I think sculptors learn to draw so that they can see what they’ve been visualizing.” His earliest works on paper explore forms and colors for his abstract sculptures, as seen in the Specimen drawings of the early 1960s. Price also drew impossible objects, like cups with a leaping frog or a cavorting nude for a handle. In his drawings of the late 1960s and early 1970s, the imaginary spaces inhabited by these objects became more fully realized.
Price’s drawings provide a counterpoint to his sculptures while imagining a world they might inhabit. Two Sofas (1991), for example, shows an imaginary domestic interior with a view of anonymous downtown high-rises. A semi-fictional Los Angeles appears in several drawings, complete with clogged freeways and palm-studded skylines.
Nature became the dominant force in the drawings from the early 2000s, which feature erupting volcanoes and turbulent seas inspired by Price’s trips to Hawaii. After his 2002 move to Taos, New Mexico, Price focused more on the high-desert scenery of rocky outcroppings, dramatic sunsets, and isolated trailer homes.
He also began depicting his sculptural forms in nature, re-imagining them as monumental figures in the primordial landscape. The effect is both comic and mysterious, like his sculptures themselves — embodying, in the words of Lucy Lippard, “a beautiful and rather horrible strangeness that appeals to both the mind and the senses.”
Ken Price passed away in 2012 at the age of 77.
Ken Price, Drawings will be on Exhibit Through June 25th, at Matthew Marks Gallery, Located at 2016 523 West 24th Street, in the Chelsea Gallery District.