SIDNEY LAWRENCE (b. San Francisco, California, 1948)

Chicago, 1987

Collection of the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts
The Jack Blanton Collection
Gift of Jack Blanton

Sidney Lawrence’s work is delightfully obsessive and playfully charming. This particular drawing depicting a bird’s-eye view of Chicago exudes a cheerful and child-like wonder at the bustling city. Everything is drawn with a sense of intensity and joy. The artist includes a smiling face on one of the buildings in the lower middle portion of the piece. Lawrence drew this work after spending time in the city conducting research for an exhibition he curated for the Hirshhorn about the artist Roger Brown.

In July 1996 Joe Shannon reviewed a Lawrence exhibition at Gallery K in Washington, D.C., for Art in America. Shannon explained the complicated and somewhat quirky art historical context in which Lawrence’s work can be framed. In part he commented,

Lawrence shares much with high-plane cartoonists from Paul Klee to Jean Dubuffet. This affinity runs deep—he has organized for the Hirshhorn Museum exhibitions of Red Grooms, Alison Saar and Roger Brown, among others. While his drawings share a saucy spirit that brings Saul Steinberg to mind, their obsessive “objective”—that is, the observed aspects of what he depicts—departs drastically from Steinberg’s aleatory combinations. The caricatured nets and hatches of scratchy, crooked lines that render motifs and fill the page edge to edge suggest a “Northern” expression—more cranky Cranach than calm Corot.