front cover Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Mel Pekarsky, American (Chicago IL born 1934)
Desert Book
Work Type
1980 - 1986
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Various media, including graphite, colored crayon, watercolor, felt-tipped pen on cream laid paper
actual: 25 x 31 x 4 cm (9 13/16 x 12 3/16 x 1 9/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: graphite, l.r.: (MP)
  • inscription: Some pages have watermark: rooster and shield.
[G. W. Einstein Company, Inc., New York, New York], sold; to Harvard University Art Museums, 1995.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Margaret Fisher Fund
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art
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Total of 190 pages of cream laid paper with approximately 96 drawings.
Label text for "A Decade of Collecting: Recent Acquisitions of Prints and Drawings, 1940-2000," June 3rd-August 27th.

Mel Pekarsky
American, b. 1934
Landscape, from Desert Book, 1980–86
Margaret Fisher Fund

In this remarkable sketchbook of approximately ninety-six drawings, Mel Pekarsky explores the beauty and mysteries of the desert’s empty vastness. The allover compositions of his large-scale independent drawings—based on aerial photographs of desert landscapes—and the far more intimate depictions found in this sketchbook sustain a remarkable balance between abstraction and representation. Calling his drawings "environmentally political," Pekarsky has become obsessed not only with recording the desert’s vastness but also conveying its fragility and vulnerability:

The desert is vast, but fragile and vulnerable. It’s beautiful, rapidly and
constantly changing: neat. I try to bring this back, not as a souvenir or
picture, but as icon and metaphor. I’m interested in surface, in the precision
of chance, in the controlled gesture, and the quiet intensity of nature’s
violence here.

(Edward Saywell)
Publication History

Mel Pekarsky, drawings from three decades, exh. cat., G. W. Einstein Company, Inc. (New York, NY, 1995), repro., cat. no. 19

Exhibition History

Mel Pekarsky, G. W. Einstein Company, Inc., New York, 04/01/1995 - 05/26/1995

A Decade of Collecting: Recent Acquisitions of Prints and Drawings from 1940 to 2000, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 06/03/2000 - 08/27/2000

Under Cover: Artists' Sketchbooks, Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 08/01/2006 - 10/22/2006

Related Works

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