In the 1930s, while WPA artists were teasing out American Regionalism, Richard Pousette-Dart (1916-1992) was soaking up so-called primitive art in frequent visits to the Museum of Natural History. This fertile imaginative period for the future founding member of the New York School of painting is the subject of this show at the Drawing Center, which comprises 80 works including drawings, notebooks and brasses. The fractal, sculptural figures drawn on paper reference tribal masks and other motifs from Oceanic, African and Native American traditions. Pousette-Dart’s devotion to the body (almost all his drawings are figurative) and concern for sculptural forms resonates with “Picasso Sculpture” currently at MoMA. The brasses, though—small carvings meant to be “held in the hand”—resemble amulets, and may possess their own magic.
Pictured: Richard Pousette-Dart: The Walking Man, ca. 1930s, gouache, ink and graphite on paper, approx. 16 by 12 inches. Estate of the artist.