Existed: Leonardo Drew

  • Feb 6, 2010 – May 9, 2010
Installation view: Weatherspoon Art Museum, 2010.

The Weatherspoon Art Museum is proud to be the exclusive presenting museum in the southeast of Existed: Leonardo Drew. This major mid-career survey exhibition includes fourteen large-scale works realized between 1991 and 2006, including the installation, Number 123 (2006), which is specially adapted by the artist for the Weatherspoon’s atrium, along with eight works on paper made between 2005 and 2008.

Throughout his career, Drew has been continuously engaged with the cyclical nature of existence. Made to resemble the detritus of everyday life, his formally abstract but emotionally charged compositions have an aesthetic authority and metaphorical weight that are unique, transcending time and place in a celebration of things eternal. These works range from the intense drama of his sculptures and installations of the 1980s, to the epic sweep of his massive wall-bound tableaux of the 1990s, to the ethereal language of his paper casts of the early 2000s.

Beginning in 2002 Drew began to create sculptures using paper replicas of his ongoing collection of castoff items that have constituted the material source for his works. Presented on their own or in encasings of the artist’s making, they introduce a ghostlike immateriality and a sense of meditation that counter the visceral weight and physical immediacy of his earlier tableaux. The new on-site installation of Number 123 in the Weatherspoon’s atrium is composed of many individual elements collected over the span of Drew’s career and is considered one of his grandest and most ambitious projects to date.

Leonardo Drew (b. 1961, Tallahassee, FL) attended the Parsons School of Design and received a BFA from the Cooper Union in 1985. His work has been shown internationally, including at the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC; the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Miami Art Museum; Tate Modern, London; and the St. Louis Art Museum.

A monograph published in conjunction with the exhibition is the first publication to fully document and interpret Drew’s career and his place within the broader context of contemporary art. At 208 pages, with more than 110-four color illustration plates, the publication includes essays by exhibition curator Claudia Schmuckli, Director, Blaffer Gallery, the Museum of the University of Houston and Allen S. Weiss, Associate Adjunct Professor, Performance Studies and Cinema, New York University; an interview with the artist; an annotated chronology; and a selected biography and bibliography. The catalogue retails for $59.95 and is available in the Museum Shop.

Existed: Leonardo Drew is organized by Blaffer Gallery, the Art Museum of the University of Houston. Major funding has been provided in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional support from the Eleanor and Frank Freed Foundation, the Harpo Foundation, the Linda Pace Foundation, The Fifth Floor Foundation, and Sikkema Jenkins & Co. Support for the exhibition at the Weatherspoon has been generously provided by the Weatherspoon Art Museum Association.

Educational and public programs related to the exhibition at the Weatherspoon are made possible through a grant from the North Carolina Arts Council.


View the Leonardo Drew Opening event photos.  Photos include images of Larry Lavender's dance group performing Sociography.

View event photos from Catch the Rhythm: Spring Community Day, April 10, 2010; featuring the works of Leonardo Drew.

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