With its invention in China in the 2nd century, paper has served as the support for an extraordinarily diverse body of work. When paper production was firmly established in Europe in the 15th century, the material was used widely for manuscripts and prints. During this time artists like Leonardo da Vinci developed drawings on paper to explore ideas in preparation for creating paintings and sculptures. At the outset of the 20th century, paper would become not only the support, but also the medium itself, as Picasso and Braque explored collage, layering numerous fragments of paper onto paper to create dense compositions. Contemporary works on paper show an inventive amalgamation of materials and techniques, featuring drawing over prints and interspersed collage elements with painting.
Why works on paper? Encompassing a diverse range of media — from drawing and painting to collage and beyond — works on paper can offer a glimpse into an artist’s creative process.
For many, the freedom and immediacy afforded by working on paper became instrumental to their practices, spawning new techniques and aesthetics, subjects and methods. Far from being confined to studies and experiments, works on paper represent important modes of art-making in their own right.