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Maria Calandra

4 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

Maria Calandra’s tiny drawings depict artworks in homes and museums as condensed moments full of personality, markers of style and flashes of art-historical greatness. They are like familiar characters you immediately recognize: a Picasso or Carroll Dunham here, a Henry Moore or Mark Rothko there. These miniaturized works are depicted in situ, with all the details of the adjacent furnishings (buttons on couches, wood grain on the floor) left lovingly intact.

In her renderings of private collections, Calandra distills the excitement of living with art and the ways collecting becomes a form of creative expression—an invitation to others to know your true self. Pieces are seen crammed into small apartments, conversing with one another, each an object of appreciation and evident pride for their owners. In the drawings of public collections, the art is given more room, so there’s evident irony in the way Calandra translates an epic De Kooning, say, into an image just a few inches across.

Calandra’s blog, Pencil in the Studio, chronicles her visits to other artists’ studios, where she draws works in progress, imbuing them with a sense of folksy earnestness and charming awkwardness. Her approach is a generous and devotional process in which she becomes both connoisseur and fan. With her endearing style and humble scale, she creates art that celebrates the joys of looking at it.—Jennifer Coates


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