Calligraphy of Line: The Drawings of Anna Walinska

Graham Shay Gallery

Jan. 20, 2024 - Feb. 24, 2023

17 E 67th St Suite 1A
New York, 10065
PHONE (212) 535-5767

On view from January 20 through February 24, Calligraphy of Line: The Drawings of Anna Walinska (1906-1997) highlights a dynamic selection of the daring artist’s works on paper from the 1920s and 1950s. In conjunction with the 2023 edition of Master Drawings, this exhibition features works on paper inspired by Walinska’s international travels. Two distinct series will be represented: Nude figure drawings sketched from live modeling classes in Paris during the 1920s, and abstract works on paper inspired by Burma [now Myanmar] from the 1950s.

The common thread between these bodies of work is a careful and intentional use of line; bold, thin, sweeping lines characterize the Paris drawings, while angles and curves weave together to form compelling compositions in the Burma pieces. By placing these series into conversation with one another, they can be compared and contrasted to highlight Walinska’s artistic evolution. The title of the show refers to the beginnings of her figurative work in Paris, about which she later said “I developed the calligraphy of line that stayed with me from then on.”

At a time when women were expected to marry young and devote themselves to raising children, Walinska instead dedicated her life to the arts, unabashedly experimenting with different mediums and styles throughout her career. She spent time in Paris learning from the avant-garde, opened an art gallery in Manhattan where she gave Arshile Gorky his first solo show, exhibited with the New York School, painted with Burmese artists en plein air, and traveled solo across Asia into Europe. She also earned two retrospectives during her lifetime – the first at the Jewish Museum in 1957, the second at the Museum of Religious Art, Cathedral of St. John the Divine, in 1979. Beyond her career in the visual arts, she ventured into the performative arts as a singer, dancer, and thespian.

Although Walinska was featured in exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National Academy of Design, exhibiting alongside important contemporaries like Fernando Botero and Louise Nevelson, many art lovers are unaware of her work. Like a number of female artists, she has been overshadowed by her male counterparts in art history canon and deserves a second look.

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