Why Draw? 500 Years of Drawings and Watercolors at Bowdoin College

Exhibition Website

May 3 2017 - Sep 3 2017

This exhibition surveys the Museum’s distinguished collections of drawings, which was founded by James Bowdoin with a bequest in 1811 and is widely regarded as the first in the country. This overview features rarely seen works by artists from Carlo Maratti and Peter Paul Rubens to Winslow Homer, Ed Ruscha, Eva Hesse, and Natalie Frank. 

Throughout the last 500 years, artist found ingenious ways to capture their observations, visualize information, and work through pictorial ideas. They drew to learn, to teach, and to communicate with workshops, colleagues, and collectors. The intimacy of drawing makes it an absorbing field of study for anyone interested in human imagination and creativity.

Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.

 Whether you go or not, the richly illustrated and highly engaging Why Draw?: 500 Years of Drawings and Watercolors from Bowdoin College presents historic and contemporary selections from one of the nation’s oldest collections of drawings. The publication explores the significance and pleasures found in tracing movements of the hand on paper by asking the question Why Draw? An intimate art form, drawing offers a direct connection to one’s imagination; a means of exercising the eye, brain, and the hand; and a way to spark new ideas and resolve pictorial challenges. This volume features more than 100 exceptional drawings, pastels, watercolors, and collages from the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, which has been collecting drawings since the 1811 bequest of James Bowdoin III. The works exemplify what compels artists to draw and thus illustrate the ongoing relevance of drawing as the most foundational artistic practice. Gathered here for the first time in a book, the range, quality, and uniqueness of the drawings will captivate anyone interested in drawing as an art form. Reproduced in gorgeous color illustrations, works from Peter Paul Rubens to Mary Cassatt, Ed Ruscha, and Jim Dine are accompanied by brief commentary. Statements from acclaimed contemporary artists, leading curators, and distinguished scholars provide insights into the creative process. Why Draw? grants personal access to this singular, evolving collection and will appeal to art lovers everywhere.

  • Works on Paper
  • International
  • Carlo Maratti
  • Peter Paul Rubens
  • Winslow Homer
  • Ed Ruscha
  • Eva Hesse
  • Natalie Frank
  • and others

Exhibition Venues & Dates