Frost Art Museum’s “Allegories for Learning” exhibition draws past ages to life 

Map of Italy and surrounding regions | Angela Alvarez, PantherNOW

Angela Alvarez | Staff Writer 

Drawing is as old as humankind, yet an underrated one when compared to other arts in the Middle Ages.

The Frost Art Museum exhibition “Allegories for Learning” demonstrates how a drawing reflects both its place of creation and the artist’s methods. 

For example, the technical elements of the piece, like media, support, and line variation, can identify a particular Italian locale. 

Obtaining the location where the drawing was likely created helps diminish the pool of artists that could have drawn the piece, as it wasn’t always apparent. 

This procedure shows how important European artists, who primarily resided in culturally rich regions like Florence, Bologna and Venice, influenced generations of students and followers in Italy and abroad. 

“It’s exciting to think about how artists’ approaches to drawing have changed over time,” said Amy Gulpin, the chief curator of the Frost Museum. 

“We also want to find connective tissue between the arts of the past and present.” 

The Frost Art Museum’s Allegories for Learning exhibition | Angela Alvarez, PantherNOW

By the end of the 14th century in Europe, drawing started to gain respect as a distinct art form. As a result, apprentices started to hone their skills by copying prints or drawings repeatedly at studios or schools. 

As the craft developed, artists began using diverse materials to draw, employing live models and teaching art with plaster molds.

For example, artists used chalk made from powdered pigment or charcoal, compressed graphite bars, water-soluble graphite, paper smudge tools, brushes and jars for water. 

This exhibition also includes items that weren’t created until decades later, including Bristol board paper, which many artists still use in their workshops today. 

Salvator Rosa, Alexander in the Studio of Apelles, Etching and drypoint on paper, 1662 | Angela Alvarez, PantherNOW

“[The exhibition] brings out the ancient way of drawing back to life…” said Xochitl Caliz, an FIU student in art major. 

“The 15th and 16th century ways they used to draw are different from what we use today since we rarely use the same materials as before… “It’s quite nice to see how traditional drawing was during those times,” said Caliz.

The artworks presented in the Allegories for Learning exhibition demonstrate the strength of drawing as a creative and versatile medium as art has evolved. 

The Allegories for Learning exhibition is open until September 10, 2023. 

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