Pride in the DMA: Celebrating LGBTQ Artists in the Collection

In honor of LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) History Month, I’ve researched some of the LGBTQ artists whose work can be found in the DMA’s collection to bring to light a piece of their lives that isn’t commonly referenced.

First, a quick side note: There is a lot of debate concerning how to historically categorize people who did not classify themselves as part of the LGBTQ community, either because they were living in a society that didn’t accept their identity or because the words simply did not exist. Below I’ll be including artists who had same-sex relationships, who identified as gay, bisexual, etc., or whose actions in today’s world would categorize them as LGBTQ.

Anne Whitney (1821–1915)

"Find A Grave - Anne Whitney." Find A Grave.  (accessed September 23, 2014).

“Find A Grave – Anne Whitney.” Find A Grave (accessed September 23, 2014).

Born in 1821, Whitney fought to become an artist in a society that did not readily accept female sculptors; it was considered masculine, as opposed to more “feminine” artistic mediums like watercolor or drawing. She was also an avid abolitionist and advocate of gender equality.

Whitney’s relationship with Abby Adeline Manning, which lasted for over forty years, is frequently termed a “Boston Marriage.” These were characterized by two women—often with their own careers—living together and supporting themselves financially. Manning and Whitney were so close that they were buried next to one another under the same headstone.

Anne Whitney, Lady Godiva, c. 1861-1864, marble, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Dr. Alessandra Comini in memory of Dr. Eleanor Tufts, who discovered the Massachusetts-backyard whereabouts of this long-forgotten statue and brought it to Dallas

Anne Whitney, Lady Godiva, c. 1861-1864, marble, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Dr. Alessandra Comini in memory of Dr. Eleanor Tufts, who discovered the Massachusetts-backyard whereabouts of this long-forgotten statue and brought it to Dallas

Whitney’s sculpture of Lady Godiva depicts the moment when she is about to remove her clothing before her famous ride through the streets. It was gifted to the DMA by Dr. Alessandra Comini in memory of Dr. Eleanor Tufts, who discovered the forgotten statue in a backyard in Massachusetts.

Marsden Hartley (1877–1943)

"SFMOMA | Marsden Hartley." San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. (accessed September 24, 2014).

“SFMOMA | Marsden Hartley.” San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (accessed September 24, 2014).

Hartley’s life was marred by periodic tragedies that informed much of his work. Losses included his siblings, mother, and numerous close family friends. Primarily a painter, Hartley spent much of his career wavering on the brink of financial insecurity.

During Hartley’s first trip to Europe in 1912, he was introduced to Karl von Freyburg, his cousin and rumored lover. After von Freyburg, a German soldier, was killed during battle in WWI, Hartley sank into a depression that would spur his work featuring German officers.

Marsden Hartley, Mountains, no. 19, 1930, oil on board, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc.

Marsden Hartley, Mountains, no. 19, 1930, oil on board, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc.

Mountains, no. 19 hangs in the DMA’s American Art Gallery. Its Cézanne-influenced shapes are coupled with the rich colors of an autumn day in New England.

Berenice Abbott (1898–1991)

“Berenice Abbott.” Time of the Moment. (accessed September 22, 2014).

Born in Springfield, Ohio, in 1898, Abbott traveled the world throughout her artistic career. She is most noted for her portraits of LGBTQ community members in 1920s Paris and photographs of 1930s-1960s New York. Abbott was very open about her lesbian love affairs in her early years, and was, at one time, involved with silverpoint artist Thelma Wood; however, given the increasingly conservative culture of America following the Great Depression, Abbott kept her love life a secret in her later years.

Berenice Abbott, City Arabesque, 1938, print 1983, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Morton and Marlene Meyerson

Berenice Abbott, City Arabesque, 1938, print 1983, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Morton and Marlene Meyerson, © date Estate of Berenice Abbott

The DMA is fortunate to have a large number of Abbott’s photographic prints, most of them detailing her work in urban architecture. This picture is notable for the curved lines juxtaposed against the rigid, harsh structures of the cityscape.

Other artists in the DMA’s collection who are also members of the LGBTQ community include:
Jasper Johns
Charles Demuth (who was a friend of Marsden Hartley)
David Hockney
Robert Mapplethorpe
Catherine Opie

While we know the month is nearing an end, you can celebrate these artists and more throughout the year in the DMA galleries.

Taylor Jeromos is the McDermott Education Intern for Adult Programming and Arts & Letters Live at the DMA.

Dead Art Walking

Visitors to the Museum this Friday will have the chance to experience not only fantastic works of art but a Halloween performance treat as well. For the second year in a row, our gallery attendants will be in costume to greet visitors in all their glittery, and sometimes grisly, glory. This will mark the second time in the past few months that monsters have stalked the hallways.
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In August, the DMA hosted a week-long zombie camp for teens. This STEAM-based camp not only connected students with artists, scientists, and film industry professionals but also sneakily cultivated 21st-century skills such as design thinking, collaboration, and creative problem solving. Click here to read more about the program and enjoy these great images taken by photographer Teresa Rafidi!

For more information on upcoming teen programs like our T-shirt design contest and monthly workshops, visit the DMA website .

Juan Bigornia is the C3 Program Coordinator at the DMA.

Sweet Sixteen

The year 2014 marks the 16th annual TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art Gala and Auction, which benefits amfAR and the DMA. To date, the yearly event has raised over $45 million dollars to support amfAR’s AIDS research efforts and the DMA’s contemporary art acquisitions fund. And each year the benefit honors an artist. TWO x TWO’s 2014 honoree is American artist Wade Guyton, who, although only in his early forties, is already recognized as one of the most influential artists of his generation.  Discover Guyton’s work at the DMA in the exhibition The Museum Is History for free.

 

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Lost in Space

 Isa Genzken: Retrospective, currently on view in the DMA’s Barrel Vault, arrived in Dallas after presentations in New York and Chicago, and came together after weeks of installation. Each work of art required a different approach and took varying amounts of time to place on display. Below, watch the installation process of Genzken’s 2007 work Oil XI, which invites you into the exhibition. Visit it now for free through January 4, 2015.

Why Flowers?

bouquets
The Dallas Museum of Art is currently at T-minus 11 days until the opening of our new exhibition, Bouquets: French Still-Life Painting from Chardin to Matisse. Floral still-life paintings are arriving from across North America and Europe, and Bouquets will open to the public on Sunday, October 26, 2014 (DMA Partners will have a chance to see the exhibition a few days earlier during the DMA Partner Preview days on October 23-25).

As a curator of this exhibition, I’ve already had several people ask me how I became interested in this rather specialized subject. I will confess straightaway that it is not because I have any particular skill in growing flowers (sadly, the contrary), identifying flowers (I have a shockingly bad memory for names, of both plants and people), or arranging flowers (even the most elegant bouquet from the florist becomes an awkward muddle when I’m entrusted with the task of transferring it to a vase). So, I did not enter into this exhibition with the belief that I had any special insights into the world of flowers to share.

Rather, I was brought to the exhibition by the DMA’s art collection. In some cases, we decide to pursue an exhibition because it allows us as curators to share with our audiences art that is not represented in depth in our own collection. This was the case with J.M.W. Turner in 2008 or Chagall: Beyond Color in 2013; however, there are also moments when we create exhibition projects as a way to showcase particular strengths of our collection and build a major research project around our own masterpieces. This was the case with Bouquets.

Several years ago, I was approached by my co-curator, Dr. Mitchell Merling of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, with an idea for an exhibition of French floral still-life painting. He wanted the exhibition to focus on the table-top still life and the bouquet, and was starting to build a list of possible works to include. Did the DMA have many paintings that fit that description, he asked? By the time I finished rounding up all the works that fit the bill, I went back to Mitchell and told him that I hoped to partner with him in curating the exhibition. Not only did the DMA have more than a dozen works of art that met the criteria, but quite a number of them were also masterpieces of our European art collections. These included important (and incredibly beautiful) paintings by Anne Vallayer-Coster, Henri Fantin-Latour, Edouard Manet, Gustave Caillebotte, Paul Bonnard, and Henri Matisse. I knew that this exhibition would be an invaluable opportunity to give these paintings the kind of visual and scholarly context they so richly deserved. Luckily, Mitchell agreed with me, and we set to work on crafting the exhibition together.

Bouquets includes six important paintings from our collection, making the DMA the largest single lender to the exhibition. In addition to these works that will travel with the exhibition to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond and the Denver Art Museum in 2015, we have also included two additional still lifes from our collection just for the show’s presentation in Dallas—the more the merrier! Although there wasn’t room to include all of our French floral still-life paintings in the exhibition, you can see several others elsewhere in the Museum.

For instance, in Mind’s Eye: Masterworks on Paper from David to Cézanne (on view until October 26, 2014, the same day that Bouquets opens), you can see a major pastel, Flowers in a Black Vase, by the inventive symbolist artist Odilon Redon. Redon is featured in Bouquets with three paintings, but because of the length of the exhibition tour we were not able to include any of his ethereal and fragile pastels. In Flowers in a Black Vase, Redon crafts one of his most sumptuous and darkly beautiful bouquets, a perfect floral tribute for the Halloween season:

Odilon Redon, Flowers in a Black Vase, c. 1909-1910, pastel, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection

Odilon Redon, Flowers in a Black Vase, c. 1909-10, pastel, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection

When you visit our galleries of European art, you’ll see that in the place of Fantin-Latour’s Still Life with Vase of Hawthorne, Bowl of Cherries, Japanese Bowl, and Cup and Saucer, featured in Bouquets, we’ve brought out another painting, Flowers and Grapes, by the same artist. This meticulously composed autumn still life was one of the first paintings in the collection selected for treatment by Mark Leonard, the DMA’s new Chief Conservator, even before his Conservation Studio was opened last fall. The jewel-like tones of the chrysanthemums, zinnias, and grapes in the newly cleaned painting now positively glow on our gallery walls.

Henri Théodore Fantin-Latour, Flowers and Grapes, 1875, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated

Henri Théodore Fantin-Latour, Flowers and Grapes, 1875, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated

And, finally, in the Wendy and Emery Reves Galleries on Level 3, be sure not to miss a special display of one of our smallest and most unpretentious bouquets, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s Bouquet of Violets in a Vase. Painted when the artist was just 18 years old, this still-life reveals the potent influence of Manet on the young artist, as well as Lautrec’s own precocious talent. This small panel painting, usually displayed in the Library Gallery of the Reves wing, where it is difficult for visitors to appreciate, is currently on view in an adjacent space where it can be enjoyed up-close, alongside another early painting by Lautrec.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Bouquet of Violets in a Vase, 1882, oil on panel, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Bouquet of Violets in a Vase, 1882, oil on panel, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection

Flowers are in bloom throughout the Museum this October, and there is no better time to fully appreciate the depth, importance, and sheer beauty of the DMA’s collection of European still-life painting.

Heather MacDonald is The Lillian and James H. Clark Associate Curator of European Art at the DMA.

London Calling!

Originally posted on DMA Canvas:

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Baby Explorers at the Manchester Museum, used with permission

Some people go to London for Big Ben, or to see the Queen, or to attend a Shakespearean play. I went to London for the babies! Thanks to a generous grant from the Carl B. and Florence E. King Foundation, I was able to take a research trip to the United Kingdom a few weeks ago to investigate what museums there are doing for children ages 0-2.

More than a year ago, I stumbled across the CultureBabies blog, which highlighted the great work focused on babies happening in museums in Manchester and London. While many museums in the US offer a variety of programs and classes for toddlers and preschoolers, classes actually focused on babies seem to be harder to come by. I knew I had to see what was happening in the UK in person…

View original 946 more words

Mind’s Eye from a Different Frame of Reference

You still have time to come to the Dallas Museum of Art to visit the exhibition Mind’s Eye: Masterworks on Paper from David to Cézanne before it closes on October 26. The show is a rare opportunity to see exceptional drawings, pastels, and watercolors by many of the most acclaimed European artists in the Museum’s collection, as well as some from many local private collections.  Linger in a gallery and closely study exquisite works by Renoir, Gérôme, Pissarro, Bonnard, and Mondrian. Then, before moving into the next room, step back a bit to view the broad array of frames that surround these fabulous artworks. The various shapes, designs, and colors add a pleasant texture to the walls and bring an unmatched intimacy to the overall experience.

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Consider the fantastic tabernacle frame surrounding Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret’s little gem Portrait of Gustave Courtois. With its liner plinth (or base), columns topped with Corinthian capitals, and crowning entablature, it’s easy to see that this sort of frame employs a structure and ornamentation inspired by ancient Greek and Roman architecture. The intricate gold ornamental foliage patterns coursing over the narrow, flat groves of dark green couple with rich gilding to elevate the mystery of the distinguished sitter, who was a fellow artist.

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Nearby is Théodule Ribot’s Head of an Old Man with Beard and Cap. This little drawing from the DMA’s collection was in storage unframed, but we did not need to go any further than our own Reves Collection to find something perfect. Based on 17th-century Dutch frames with waffle or ripple style moldings that were darkly painted to simulate ebony, this frame is enhanced throughout by long passages of inlaid tortoise shell. Then, to bring perfect harmony to drawing and frame, we added a custom-designed mat embellished with strands of pale blue, silver, and brown marbling that echoes the frame’s tortoiseshell.
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Like museums, artists were often quite particular about their frames. For example, Edgar Degas most likely designed the frame on his drawing After the Bath, Woman Drying Herself. This frame has the hallmarks of his most inventive design, which includes a soft overall gilding over a lightly rounded profile, enhanced with rows of thin parallel grooves. Degas called this frame a “cockscomb” or “cushion” pattern. The frames’ characteristic gentle curves subtly reinforce the arc in the nude’s back, as well as the fleshiness of her torso, buttocks, and arms.

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Even simpler than Degas’s frame is the one that Swiss artist Ernest Biéler designed for his L’épine-vinette. He polished the wood (oak) to bring out its subtle grain, allowing it to serve as a backdrop to the small strips of wood that step down at the sight edge, drawing our eyes toward the lovely portrait. Biéler followed a similar design scheme when made the frame for his Self-Portrait, which hangs to the left. Thus we see both of these works just as he intended.
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In the last room of the exhibition, you will find a fantastic frame on Pablo Picasso’s Still Life with Glass and Bowl. Although probably not designed by Picasso, its strong linear features and curvilinear gold leaf embellishments mirror those same aspects in the master’s drawing.

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If you are not ready to explore the rest of the Museum, return to the first Mind’s Eye gallery for a look at the one-of-a-kind mat surrounding Hubert Robert’s View of the Gardens at the Villa Mattei. The cartouche bearing the artist’s name is a work of art itself.

Martha MacLeod is the Curatorial Administrative Assistant for the European and American Art Department at the DMA.


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