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Charcoal

Woman looking away, 1900

Charcoal is one of the first tools humans used to make artwork, appearing in cave paintings dating back 28,000 years. Artists have refined the medium from burnt wood to finely-ground charcoal bound with wax or gum into sticks, crayons, and pencils. During the Renaissance, charcoal was often used to create gestural sketches to prepare for a painting, but charcoal’s range of expression makes it a beautiful medium for finished work — from the gentle ochre used in Da Vinci’s Study of a Woman's Hands to the intense black of Redon’s spiders.

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Study of a Woman's Hands

Study of a Woman's Hands

Leonardo da Vinci1490
Tears

Tears

Odilon Redon1878
The Cube

The Cube

Odilon Redon1880
The Crying Spider

The Crying Spider

Odilon Redon1881
The Smiling Spider

The Smiling Spider

Odilon Redon1881
Unemployed

Unemployed

Ferdinand Hodler1891
The Halberdier

The Halberdier

Ferdinand Hodler1895
Christ In Silence

Christ In Silence

Odilon Redon1897
Village Church

Village Church

Piet Mondrian1898
Girl looking up

Girl looking up

Adolf Hirémy-Hirschl1900
Woman looking away

Woman looking away

Adolf Hirémy-Hirschl1900
Trees on a Yellow Background

Trees on a Yellow Background

Odilon Redon1901
Pearl Oyster

Pearl Oyster

Mikhail Vrubel1904
After the Concert, at the Fireplace

After the Concert, at the Fireplace

Mikhail Vrubel1905
Music (Sketch)

Music (Sketch)

Henri Matisse1907
Young Woman Reading (Ines)

Young Woman Reading (Ines)

Umberto Boccioni1909-1910
Sketch for States of Mind: The Farewells

Sketch for States of Mind: The Farewells

Umberto Boccioni1911
Sketch for States of Mind: Those Who Go

Sketch for States of Mind: Those Who Go

Umberto Boccioni1911
Sketch for States of Mind: Those Who Stay

Sketch for States of Mind: Those Who Stay

Umberto Boccioni1911
Studies of Self Portrait

Studies of Self Portrait

Ferdinand Hodler1911
Illustration for Souz Molodyozhi

Illustration for Souz Molodyozhi

Olga Rozanova1913
Illustration for Souz Molodyozhi

Illustration for Souz Molodyozhi

Olga Rozanova1913
Pier and Ocean

Pier and Ocean

Piet Mondrian1914
The Rhine at Duisburg

The Rhine at Duisburg

Paul Klee1937
Vase, Palette, and Mandolin

Vase, Palette, and Mandolin

Georges Braque1944
Self-Portrait

Self-Portrait

Elaine de Kooning1946
Untitled, 1965

Untitled, 1965

Brice Marden1964-1965
Future Indicative

Future Indicative

Lee Krasner1977

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