In Pictures: The Drawing Center’s Raucous Summer Show Is an Ode to All Things Ornament, From Japanese Woodblock Prints to Graffiti

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As its title tells you, “The Clamor of Ornament” is a raucous explosion of color and pattern. The Drawing Center’s summer show throws pretty much everything that might plausibly be fit in the category of “ornament” into its mix. As a result, there is truly something for everyone here.

The title of the show is an art history joke: It riffs on Owen Jones’s famous Victorian style manual, . But while Jones tried to create a system that connoted taste and decorum, this show—curated by Emily King with Margaret-Anne Logan and Duncan Tomlin—is anti-systematic and wildly eclectic. From William Morris wallpaper to Japanese woodblock prints, and from graffiti tags to scrimshaw, the show is like a stream of consciousness riff on its subject, breathlessly channel-changing between centuries and media.

It’s not without its critics either. In the , critic Jed Perl unleashed a 3,000-plus word attack on the show, declaring it emblematic of the degeneracy of contemporary taste. But even Perl admitted, “There’s real fun to be had here.”

See some of the highlights of “The Clamor of Ornament,” below, and judge for yourself.

Installation view of “The Clamor of Ornament"

Installation view, “The Clamor of Ornament: Exchange, Power, and Joy from the Fifteenth Century to the Present” at the The Drawing Center, New York. Photo: Daniel Terna

Installation view of “The Clamor of Ornament"

Installation view, “The Clamor of Ornament: Exchange, Power, and Joy from the Fifteenth Century to the Present” at the The Drawing Center, New York. Photo: Daniel Terna

Installation view of “The Clamor of Ornament"

Installation view, “The Clamor of Ornament: Exchange, Power, and Joy from the Fifteenth Century to the Present” at the The Drawing Center, New York. Photo: Daniel Terna

Installation view of “The Clamor of Ornament"

Installation view, “The Clamor of Ornament: Exchange, Power, and Joy from the Fifteenth Century to the Present” at the The Drawing Center, New York. Photo: Daniel Terna

Installation view of “The Clamor of Ornament"

Installation view, “The Clamor of Ornament: Exchange, Power, and Joy from the Fifteenth Century to the Present” at the The Drawing Center, New York. Photo: Daniel Terna

Albrecht Dürer after Leonardo da Vinci

Albrecht Dürer after Leonardo da Vinci, The Second Knot, Interlaced Roundel with an Amazon Shield in its Center (before 1521). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, George Khuner Collection, Bequest of Marianne Khuner, 1984

Wolfgang Hieronymus Von Bömmel, Lion and Hare Composed of Ornamental Leaf-Work

Wolfgang Hieronymus Von Bömmel, Lion and Hare Composed of Ornamental Leaf-Work from “Neue-ersonnene Gold-Schmieds Grillen” (New Designs for Ornaments in Gold) (1698). Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution

Owen Jones, Designs

Owen Jones, Designs (1 of 51) for publication in Examples of Chinese Ornament (1866–67). Victoria and Albert Museum, London. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

David Kulp, Presentation Fraktur of a Double Eagle

David Kulp, Presentation Fraktur of a Double Eagle (ca. 1815). American Folk Art Museum. American Folk Art Museum / Art Resource, NY

Unknown artist, A Unique Example of a Transitional-phase Navajo Weaving in the "Germantown" Tradition, with American Flag Panels and Eye-dazzlers

Unknown artist, A Unique Example of a Transitional-phase Navajo Weaving in the “Germantown” Tradition, with American Flag Panels and Eye-dazzlers (ca. 1868– 1910). Private collection

Emma Pettway Gee’s Bend Quilt

Emma Pettway, Gee’s Bend Quilt (2021). Private collection. Photograph by Daniel Terna

Wendy Red Star, Peelatchiwaaxpáash / Medicine Crow (Raven)

Wendy Red Star, Peelatchiwaaxpáash / Medicine Crow (Raven) (2014). Brooklyn Museum. © Wendy Red Star

Toyohara Kunichika, From the series “Flowers of Edo: Five Young Men”

Toyohara Kunichika, From the series “Flowers of Edo: Five Young Men” (1864). Courtesy of Ronin Gallery, New York

Unknown artist, Scrimshaw

Unknown artist, Scrimshaw (19th century). The Whaling Museum & Education Center

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