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Guercino: Mind to Paper At the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Center
October 17, 2006-January 21, 2007

September 7, 2006

LOS ANGELES—Probably the greatest Italian draftsman of the 17th century, Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, il Guercino (Italian, 1591–1666), called “the Rembrandt of the South”, is hailed for his wide-ranging inventiveness, unusual working methods and his ability to capture drama and movement.  The exhibition Guercino: Mind to Paper, at the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Center, October 17, 2006–January 21, 2007, highlights his extraordinary talent, and illustrates his use of different media to convey texture, shadow, light, and space in his drawings.

Guercino: Mind to Paper features more than thirty remarkable drawings by the artist whose nickname – Guercino (“the squinter”) – derives from a childhood accident, which left him cross-eyed. The majority of the drawings are on loan from the Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery, London, with other works coming from the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, three loans from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, as well as two objects from two West Coast collectors. Appearing at the Getty Center, and then traveling to the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, this exhibition is part of an ongoing collaboration between the Getty Trust and the Courtauld.

Guercino’s works were especially prized for their deft touch, psychological insight, and inventive approach to subject matter. The range of drawings on view in this exhibition represent the full arc of Guercino’s unique and prolific talent, and span the range of his lengthy and successful career.  His drawing style was not only distinctive and spontaneous but reveals an extraordinary aptitude with effects of light and texture, whether employing red and black chalk, or his favored media, pen and ink. Not only did these drawings play an important intermediary role in developing the composition of his paintings, they allowed him to examine human character and object surfaces.

A gifted storyteller, Guercino drew scenes from the life around him in his hometown of Cento, a small northern Italian town  – everyday people going about their work, women drying their hair, an intimate portrait of a mother with her child. In contrast, he also studied figures in armor or in a skirmish as preparatory drawings for more complex large-scale paintings.
Guercino: Mind to Paper is curated by Julian Brooks, assistant curator of drawings, the J. Paul Getty Museum, who is also the author of the accompanying catalogue.

Publications are available in the Getty Bookstore, by calling (800) 223-3431 or (310) 440-7059, or online at

Guercino: Mind to Paper
By Julian Brooks
This fully illustrated catalogue seeks to provide an introduction to the defining characteristics of Guercino’s draftsmanship and investigates why his work is so highly esteemed. This publication brings together a group of the artist’s drawings from the Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery, London, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and private collections that reveal a great artist’s vigorous imagination at work.
Paperback: $24.95

All events are free, unless otherwise noted.  For reservations and information, please call (310) 440-7300 or visit

To draw or not to draw?  Contrasting the approaches of Caravaggio and Guercino
While most Italian late Renaissance and Baroque artists made drawings to prepare for their paintings, Caravaggio apparently never made a drawing in his life.  In contrast, Guercino – whose early paintings reflect Caravaggio’s strong light effects and shocking subjects – drew incessantly.  Julian Brooks, assistant curator of drawings, the J. Paul Getty Museum, examines these two artists’ different approaches and how drawing (or the lack of it) influenced their works.  Reservations required.
Sunday, December 10, 4:00 p.m., Museum Lecture Hall

Drawing from the Old Masters
Join artist Peter Zokosky in an exploration of Guercino’s drawing methods and materials – including an introduction to iron gall ink, quill and reed pens, and natural chalk – followed by sketching in the galleries with graphite.
Course fee $20.  Open to 25 participants.
Tuesday, October 10, 1:00-4:00 p.m.; repeats Sunday, October 15 and Tuesday, October 24, 1:00-4:00 p.m., Museum studios and galleries

Curator’s Gallery Talks
Julian Brooks, assistant curator of drawings, the J. Paul Getty Museum, leads a gallery talk on the exhibition.  Meet under the stairs in the Museum Entrance Hall.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006, 1:30 p.m., and Thursday, January 11, 2007, 2:30 p.m., Museum galleries  

Take a self-guided audio tour, and listen to curators discuss Guercino’s unique approach to drawing.  Pick up a GettyGuide Audio Player in the Museum Entrance Hall.

Note to editors:  Images available on request.

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Miranda Carroll
Getty Communications

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