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Giuseppe Penone, Propagazione (Propagation), 1995–, typographic ink and graphite on paper, felt-tip pen on wall. Installation view, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2011.Photo: Jonathan Muzikar. © Giuseppe Penone/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris.

“On Line”

Giuseppe Penone, Propagazione (Propagation), 1995–, typographic ink and graphite on paper, felt-tip pen on wall. Installation view, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2011.Photo: Jonathan Muzikar. © Giuseppe Penone/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris.

WHAT IS A LINE? I used to think that a “line” was a pure mathematical concept, something that did not exist in nature. I also used to think about line in terms of its meaning within a linked series of oppositions: the linear versus the coloristic, the draftsmanly versus the painterly, the “essence” versus the “difference,” the “masculine” versus the “feminine” of pictorial art. And of course, there is linear versus nonlinear thought. But now, having seen the fabulous exhibition “On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, curated by Catherine de Zegher and Cornelia H. Butler, I see I must begin to think otherwise.

Including everything from actual drawing on paper to collage and cloth and construction, to what used to be called painting and sculpture, to dance and video and installation, “On Line” embraces work from twenty-five countries

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