Sketchbooks & Art Books

In Gladys Barker Grauer’s sketchbooks you will find color studies, composition studies, gestures, portraits, fashion drawings, and over time you begin to learn her visual language: the shapes she was interested in, the kind of movement she wanted to achieve throughout an artwork, the way she used patterns to not only fill up empty space but to imbue it with meaning.

Notably, we are not able to confirm that all the sketchbooks left behind by Gladys Barker Grauer were even her own: during her 2017 career survey exhibition “Gladys Barker Grauer, Speaking Her Mind: Then and Now” she remarked, anecdotally, that around the time she attended the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1940s it was common practice for friends to take each other’s sketchbooks. It’s possible some of the sketches could have even been from Grauer’s late husband Solomon Grauer, who had studied fashion design.

We also see Grauer engaging with the book as an art medium itself. A lot of her work as an artist and activist included working within artist collectives, and collaborative art books were at the root of artist collective identity. Therefore part of the effort of digitally archiving these sketchbooks is as a reminder that Grauer’s works, ideas and artistic goals never existed in a vacuum, that she sought out collaboration and welcomed the idea that the world around her could change her mind.

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