Skull Drawing

Kerry James Marshall


Drawing, 43.2 x 48.3 cm.
Materials: graphite, paper

Collection: Courtesy of the artist, Jack Shainman Gallery, NY, and Koplin Del Rio, CA.

Marshall was barely 16 years-old when he made Skull Drawing (ca. 1970-71). His quest for making use of a variety of materials and techniques is apparent for the first time here. While he read books about these artists, he also learned that they too had trained their talent by, for example, making sketches of plaster sculptures, copying work of other artists, studying anatomy and making anatomical drawings. This inspired Marshall to start sketching plastic skulls that he found in local stores.

“The Skull Drawing (1970-71) is my attempt to replicate the educational process of artists I admired, like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo: to gain not just a superficial understanding of how bodies are constructed, but an internal understanding of how they are made. I would sit at home most evenings, doing studies from my plastic skull and from a set of plastic skeletons, trying different lighting sources and things like that. I was too young to have well-developed conceptual aims. The first priority was to develop skills.”

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