The Drawing Center will present Portraits from the École des Beaux-Arts Paris, an exhibition that explores four hundred years of portrait drawings, emphasizing work from live models. Each week, a different set of four portraits from different centuries and with different formal qualities will be hung "in dialogue" with each other in a specially-built room located in the center of The Drawing Center’s Main Gallery. Forty portraits have been chosen from the collection of Beaux-Arts de Paris based on diverse criteria such as the male and female gestures, caricature, frontal gaze, social class, and profession of the model. The room is inspired by the intimate gallery at the Galleria Doria Pamphilj in Rome where Velazquez’s portrait of Pope Innocent X (c.1649) hangs, which only accommodates a small number of visitors at a time and was designed to provide a space for close viewing and contemplation without crowds. The remaining thirty-six portraits in the exhibition will be hung on the gallery's outside walls and will be visible to the visitor throughout the exhibition's run.

This unique exhibition will explore the notion of drawn portraiture and provide alternative readings of this important genre of art making within a contemporary context. The selection of works is extensive, ranging from never-before-exhibited drawings by seventeenth-century luminaries Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and Charles Garnier to the work of modern and contemporary masters Henri Matisse and Georg Baselitz to portraits by recent graduates of the Beaux-Arts de Paris. Co-curated by Emmanuelle Brugerolles, Curator of the Drawings collection at the Beaux- Arts de Paris and Brett Littman, Executive Director of The Drawing Center.

About Beaux-Arts de Paris

The École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts located across the Seine from the Musée du Louvre in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, is heir to the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, founded in 1648 by Louis XIV. Its remarkable drawing collection is second in size only to that of Le Louvre and, thanks to numerous gifts and donations for teaching purposes, includes a number of truly exceptional pieces. Historic, long-preserved state art collections and contemporary artistic creation come together in this institution, whose mission is to educate and train students planning to devote themselves to high-level artistic creation. The collections remain a vital component of teaching and study at the École. For the students, who study, examine, draw from and photograph them, they are a continual source of questioning and reinterpretation. In 1987, the Beaux-Arts de Paris was given a tremendous collection from Mathias Polakovits, who was a Match journalist and lived in New York in the 1970s. Many drawings exhibited today in The Drawing Center came from Polakovits’ collection.