IU Eskenazi Museum of Art Acquires Sculpture by Contemporary Artist, Leonardo Drew

The Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University is pleased to announce the acquisition of Number 258 (2020) by contemporary artist Leonardo Drew. The purchase of the sculpture was made possible thanks to the generosity of National Advisory Board Members Nancy and Bill Hunt.

Number 258 is a prime example of Drew’s wall-hung, three-dimensional sculptures. Drew begins with raw materials—primarily found and machined wood fragments—then combines them with washes of paint and gesso, creating assemblages that juxtapose elements of chaos and order. His sculptures seem to suggest densely populated cities, forests, wastelands, or organic forms, referring to the cyclical character of time and nature. This work exemplifies new directions in Drew’s sculptural practice, which has grown to incorporate fluid waves and spirals. The acquisition of Number 258 was spurred by Drew’s exhibition Cycles, on loan to the Eskenazi Museum from the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation.

Leonardo Drew was born in Tallahassee, Florida, and grew up in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He was heavily influenced by those early surroundings, in particular the city dump in Bridgeport, which he saw from the windows of his childhood apartment. Drew spent hours culling through remnants and discarded objects, providing new life to many items. He recalls, “It’s this metaphor and consistent weight of being which drives my work to this day. Though I do not use found objects in my work today (my materials are fabricated in the studio), what has remained from my early explorations are the echoes of evolution . . . life, death, regeneration.” Drew lives and works in Brooklyn and internationally. He attended Parsons School of Design and received a BFA from the Cooper Union in 1985.

Drew considers his works as a continuum, with new projects feeding off those that came before. He is well known for his large-scale installations created through the transformation—often through oxidizing, burning, or decaying—of raw materials like wood, rope, animal hides, and cotton into something completely different from their original state.

Of the acquisition, Curator of Contemporary Art Elliot Reichert said, “Number 258 is exemplary of Leonardo Drew’s innovative and ever evolving sculptural practice. The combination of rigid, wooden elements with an undulating structure produces exciting moments of texture and motion. This is truly an exceptional addition to the museum’s growing contemporary collection.”

David Brenneman, Wilma E. Kelley Director of the Eskenazi Museum, noted, “We are thrilled to introduce a work by this versatile artist into our collection. This acquisition illustrates our commitment to the diversification of our holdings with works by important contemporary artists. I am grateful to Nancy and Bill Hunt for their generous contribution to these efforts.”

The exhibition Leonardo Drew: Cycles, From the Collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation, currently on view at the Eskenazi Museum, features thirty-two of Drew’s highly textured prints and four wall sculptures.

About the IU Eskenazi Museum of Art

Since its establishment in 1941, the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art has grown from a small university teaching collection into one of the most significant university art collections in the United States. A preeminent teaching museum on the Indiana University campus, its internationally acclaimed collection, ranging from ancient gold jewelry and African and Oceanic works to paintings by modern masters such as Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock, includes more than 45,000 objects representing nearly every art-producing culture throughout history.

The Eskenazi Museum of Art just completed a $30 million renovation of its acclaimed I. M. Pei–designed building. When it reopens on November 7, 2019, the newly renovated museum will be an enhanced teaching resource for Indiana University and southern Indiana. The museum is dedicated to engaging students, faculty, artists, scholars, alumni, and the wider public through the cultivation of new ideas and scholarship.

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