Metalpoint Drawings and Paintings, 2013

"My drawings use the classical Renaissance technique of metalpoint in ways which challenge all the traditional concepts. Juxtaposing a wide variety of metals (silver, gold, brass, copper, platinum, pewter, bronze and aluminum) I obtain soft shifts in tone and color reminiscent of the luminous transparency of watercolor. Horizontal lines and tone evoke an atmosphere of serenity, and the shimmer of light on the surface, created by the metals, is quite unlike any of the usual effects of metalpoint.

I have been working within a square format almost exclusively since 1997. An even grid of narrow horizontal lines forms the basic structure of my drawings and paintings. But unlike the work of Agnes Martin, with whom I am often compared, this geometric regularity serves as a spatial context for irregular events on the surface.

Tone and line are the most important features of these works. In my wood panels I began by carving thin lines into the surface after which I applied several layers of paint or gesso. Then, after lightly sanding the surface, I enriched the surface with bronze tones and metalpoint drawing. The works seem to vibrate as the eye moves around the painting.

Many of the drawings, particularly those entitled Madrigal, create a counterpoint between fine lines drawn with a stylus and broad swatches of bronze or copper tone. Those entitled Toccata have a stronger linear presence, and on occasion I have actually used fine pencil lines as a dark black contrast to the metalpoint.

There is considerable variety in these works. A ground of black gesso alters the tones and colors of the metals in the drawings entitled Aurora. A particular variant of the linear texture characterizes the three-dimensional drawings entitled Toccata or Intermezzo, where lines wrap around the edges of the panels. And finally, the panels and drawings entitled, Polyphony feature multiple square units, often arranged in layers so that an illusion of depth, in sharp contrast to my other works, frequently seems to emerge."

-Susan Schwalb, 2013

Susan Schwalb's work has been exhibited internationally in museum and gallery exhibitions since the 1970s. Her work is in the permanent collection of numerous museums and institutions including The Museum of Modern Art, NY; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; The Brooklyn Museum of Art, NY; The Museum of Prints and Drawings, Berlin, Germany; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The British Museum, London, England; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock; and the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC to name a few.


The Enduring Appeal of Metalpoint Roderick Conway Morris
Forgotten Art in Virtuoso Drawings Fisun Güner
17 Sep. 2015
Susan Schwalb, Artist Les Femmes Folles
29 Oct. 2013
Gallery Hopping on Thursdays Karen Vanegas
3 Oct. 2013
Susan Schwalb, Spatial Polyphonies
3 Oct. 2013
Susan Schwalb Video Interview -
In her studio
Susan Schwalb - Catalog
A Gathering Quiet: Metal Point Paintings and Drawings - Excerpt from essay by Christine Temin.
Susan Schwalb
Luminosity, Reflected Light, Afterimages
Susan Schwalb - Catalog
Interior Voyages - Excerpt from essay by Helaine Posner.
Susan Schwalb - Catalog
Atmospheric Disturbances - Excerpt from "Point to Line to Plane," by Lilly Wei
Lines of Liminality:
Works by Susan Schwalb and Clifford Smith on view at Gerald Peters Gallery