Under the hand of artist Darryl Babatunde Smith, the airiness of metalpoint brings to life the forms of two casts from the ICAA’s historic cast collection. In an artistic approach born from the richness of ancient literature, Smith intuits a suite of metalpoints based upon the ICAA’s Venus de Vienne and Sleeping Ariadne. He draws from Ancient Greek and Roman texts, including the Hymns of Orpheus, writings by Philostratus, and Pliny the Elder that illustrate the physical presences of the mythological figures. Both the passages, the casts, and Smith’s drawings are attuned to the exposed physicality of the figures, their bodies either revealed or hidden to the viewer. Thus, instead of rendering his depiction of Venus and Ariadne from the mechanical-esque approach of figure drawing, Smith sensitively approaches the monumental fleshiness of each of the figures, pulling forward the delicacy of the contortion and stretch of the sculpted bodies as Venus and Ariadne simultaneously reveal and disguise themselves from the viewer’s attention.

That delicacy is inherent to the medium of metalpoint, a material particularly popularized by Renaissance artists like Albrecht Dürer where artists used fine styli of silver, gold, or bronze to create hair-thin lines, layered to bring forth form on paper. Despite its delicacy however, metalpoint is a permanent medium, as once metal is put to paper, its marking is not erasable, and in fact will only darken over time. Thus, Smith’s execution of these drawings in gold and silver is a testament not only to his refined skill as an artist, but his thoughtful observation of the figures’ statuesque form. His care and reverence echoes in the exhibitions title, Ad Manum, Ad Dorsum, or "hymn to the hand, hymn to the back".

Learn More about Darryl Smith | Learn More about the ICAA's Venus De Vienne Cast

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