Bringing together more than 200 objects produced over the past five centuries, The Clamor of Ornament: Exchange, Power, and Joy from the Fifteenth Century to the Present explores ornament in architecture, art, and design through the lens of drawing. The exhibition foregrounds ornament’s potential as a mode of communication, a form of currency, and a means of exchange across geographies and cultures. The Clamor of Ornament seeks to address the multilayered complexity of the history of ornament, including the dissonance between the unequal and destructive relationships that mediate its movement between sources. Together, the objects on view both celebrate and interrogate ornament’s fluidity by making connections between motifs, methods, and intentions.

The exhibition at The Drawing Center features a broad range of drawings, prints, textiles and objects, including eighteenth-century Indian palampores; Pennsylvania Dutch Fraktur drawings; kosode paper designs; Navajo textiles; and Albrecht Dürer’s Islamic-inspired woodblock-print knots. This broad approach to the subject of ornament also encompasses original architectural drawings by Louis Sullivan and Sir David Adjaye; contemporary ornament in the form of logos from luxury fashion brands; and even present-day designs for patisserie.