So while it’s true that this blog normally covers contemporary artists living in NYC, the new retrospective of work by Anna Zemánková (1908-1986), at the Cavin-Morris Gallery in Chelsea, was just too good to pass up. Here’s why:

First, Zemánková’s botanical drawings twist and sway like dancers; using delicate pastel, ink, pencil, and crocheted details, the artist made her vascular and feathery plant-forms in the early hours of the morning (in the hypnogogic pre-dawn when the mind is often as soft as clay).

Born in Moravia (now the Czech Republic), Zemánková began her unusual artist journey after her family moved to Prague in 1948. Her son, a sculptor, had given her art materials and encouraged her drawing as an outlet for the feelings of depression she was experiencing. The early morning drawings continued unabated until the last few years of her life, from 1979 to 1986, when she died.

Currently on view at Cavin-Morris Gallery, Twilight Before Dawn: Anna Zemánková reveals some of the works from her family’s collection. Most were made after the 1960s, when Zemánková began to introduce an unusual application of her materials.

It is exciting to get up close and see how intricately and lovingly some of the details were rendered using crocheted threads. These embellishments move easily back and forth between the surface of the paper and the dream world of her botanical forms, diving into the flower heads of scarlet and resurfacing again on a leaf of cerulean blue. (Alessandro Keegan)

(All images courtesy of Cavin-Morris Gallery.)

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