Archive for February, 2012

Installing the American Twenties

Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties opens this Sunday after an inaugural presentation at the Brooklyn Museum. Preparation for the exhibition began in January, and below are a few images of the installation process.

Adam Gingrich is the Administrative Assistant for Marketing and Communications at the DMA.

Au Revoir Monsieur Gaultier

Last week we bid adieu to The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier after three months of hosting the internationally touring exhibition at the DMA. Before the exhibition travels to its final U.S. museum, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco: de Young, here are a few stats from the DMA’s presentation:

  • 114,986 visitors over three months
  • 16,044 postcards purchased
  • 1,020 catalogues sold
  • 142 ensembles
  • 73 works on paper
  • 49 wigs designed by Odile Gilbert
  • 30 animated mannequins
  • 13 weeks on view
  • 6 galleries of works
  • 2 custom cowboy-inspired greeters
  • 1 incredible fashion designer

See the exhibition from arrival to departure and everything in between.

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Kimberly Daniell is the PR Specialist at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Happy Birthday, Mr. President!

Today we celebrate the 280th birthday of our first president, George Washington. A pivotal and iconic figure in our nation’s history, Washington is easily recognizable on the dollar bill and quarter. Here on view at the DMA are a couple more examples of representations of our founding father.

"George Washington", c. 1786, Jean-Antoine Houdon, Painted plaster, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Ronald E. Fritz

The artist Rembrandt Peale saw how the nation was being shaped through art. Using the popular neoclassical style of the time, Peale depicted the president as an idealized, authoritative figure in military garb. In this famed “porthole portrait,” Peale monumentalizes Washington by depicting him gazing pensively out of the painted stone frame.  Peale created over seventy iterations of this portrait in hopes of creating an image as iconic as Gilbert Stuarts’s (which can be found on the quarter and the dollar . . . as well as at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston). Peale’s painting is also used in the George Washington Portrait Program. You can learn more about this program on Mount Vernon’s website.

"George Washington", Rembrandt Peale, c. 1850, Oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Karl and Esther Hoblitzelle Collection, gift of the Hoblitzelle Foundation

Encouraged by the then French ambassador Thomas Jefferson, the well-known French neoclassical sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon journeyed across the Atlantic from France to Mount Vernon with the goal of creating a life-size sculpture of the president.  Houdon created a life mask of Washington, which later served as a model for the DMA portrait bust and the life-size sculpture now in the State Capitol at Richmond. Again, Houdon idealizes the president and portrays him as an enlightened leader. (Some artists took this “idealized” representation a little too far. See Horatio Greenough’s massive sculpture, dubbed the “Enthroned Washington.”)

Don’t miss these works in the galleries as you celebrate President’s Day weekend!

Fun Facts:
• George Washington was 6 feet, 2 inches.
• Washington owned at least eight sets of dentures, none of them made of wood.
.• At his inauguration in 1789 he had only one tooth left.
• Washington’s presidential inauguration was held in the Federal Hall in New York City, as opposed to Washington, D.C.

Melissa Barry is the McDermott Curatorial Intern for Contemporary Art at the DMA. Lexie Ettinger is the Adult Programing Intern at the DMA.

Traveling with The Mourners

It usually takes a few years to pull together a complicated, large and/or high value exhibition with loans from all over the world. The Mourners is an exhibition with only forty objects, and most from one source. So why did this project take about three years to open at its first venue, and why was it so complex? Well, the little sculptures are fragile, medieval and made out of stone—alabaster. In addition, they are the most treasured objects at the Musee des Beaux—Arts Dijon. The Director of the Museum, Sophie Jugie, had to promise the Mayor that absolutely nothing would happen to the little guys while they toured the United States for 2 ½ years!

After a year of conversation about the project with various parties, the DMA was asked by FRAME (French Regional American Museum Exchange) to organize and manage the exhibition tour.

In 2008 I visited Dijon to meet the staff, begin coordinating the logistics of our agreement, and of course to see the sculptures first hand to have a better idea of requirements for handling, packing, shipping, etc.

Tomb of John the Fearless. Musee des beaux-arts Dijon prior to removal of the sculptures.

In 2009 Preparator—and head mount maker—Russell Sublette visited Dijon to trace the bottoms of the sculptures in preparation for mount design. Over a few months he completed a couple of different designs for the mounts, here is one example.

After the mount decisions were made with Dijon, we had to purchase everything we would need: paint, felt, screwdrivers, drills, lots and lots of brass plate, and different width brass rods. Meanwhile a French packing company was busy building crates.

In January of 2010 we landed in Dijon. It was VERY cold. We immediately drove to the local “home depot” to purchase two heaters since the the Musee des beaux-arts is in the basement—of a stone medieval building. To make very detailed mounts, you need dexterity, your fingers cannot be frozen due to the cold.

I worked with the Dijon staff and Benoit Lafay (France Institute of Conservation of Works of Art) to remove the sculptures from the tomb.

The next three days we spent on high resolution photography of each sculpture, which you can appreciate in detail by going to mourners.org. Leonard Steinbach and Jared Bendis devised and organized the impressive photography equipment to complete the amazing photography. We set up shop in the gallery next to where the tombs are located. They took approximately 350 photographs of each sculpture!

Meanwhile, Russell and DMA colleague John Lendvay worked on making each mount. The first three days they worked in the gallery. And when we left the museum on Friday evening, we walked out and into a raging blizzard—the worst Dijon had seen in something like 80 years! The city looked beautiful, but it was oh so cold.

The mounts are crucial to the safety of the sculptures and travel in their own crate with all the supplies needed to make adjustments, touch up paint, replace padding, etc. They were made to fit each individual sculpture, painted to match the color of the alabaster, and padded with conservation felt.

The first stop in the exhibition tour was The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Here we had to complete more of the refinements on the mounts, as the time in Dijon had not been sufficient.

Extensive notes and diagrams are needed to make certain that each sculpture is fitted into the mount correctly.

Russell and John discussed each mount until comfortable with the design. As you can see, some of the sculptures have had repairs over the centuries, some have very small bases, and most have intricate drapery at the bottom. Many details to take into account when deciding where the clips should be placed.

At the end of the installation, a bit of very careful touch up paint might be necessary on the mounts. And they looked spectacular!

After experiencing the blizzard in Dijon, it was fitting that after we finished the installation in New York we barely made it out due to a snow storm in the east. The day the three of us left to return to Dallas, ours was the last flight out before they closed the airport. I think it is the Mourners—they like the cold! And they are wearing those fancy fur lined robes . . .

At each venue, we must complete a very detailed condition examination with the Objects Conservator of the host museum, and a Registrar from Dijon. We keep binders with dozens and dozens of photographs and notes to compare and annotate.

The sculptures travel in individual “inner” boxes and two per crate. Each inner box is configured to fit the sculpture and provide space for hands to lift the sculpture safely. With such a long exhibition tour, we had to build very good travel crates. As you can see, plenty of labels, photos, and numbers to keep things clear.

When the exhibition was in Dallas, Russell and John had the time to complete what we call “seismic mounts.” The exhibition traveled to Los Angeles and San Francisco after Dallas and we had to prepare supplemental mounts which were installed in earthquake zone venues.

Now the little Mourners have been to seven museums in the United States. Each time they are carefully packed and transported to the next museum. Once there, they are carefully unpacked and condition examinations are completed on each sculpture again.

Then, they are slowly and carefully installed once again. Mount placement is marked once the curator makes a decision as to where he wants the sculpture, we use templates to then mark the position of the seismic mounts, holes are drilled, and mounts are screwed in place. Then ever so carefully, the sculpture is “dialed” into place. Each sculpture has a unique way of fitting into the mount. Some are a little trickier to install than others. Below John is using a mirror to see behind the sculpture because the space is narrow. Very creative!

If you missed the exhibition here in Dallas, you still have an opportunity to see it at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond through April 15th.

As a Registrar, I have been doing exhibitions for over 28 years and this is one of my top five favorite projects of my career. Each time we de-install them and each time we unpack them, I marvel at the beauty of each piece and find yet another detail in the carving that amazes me. Even after 14 times—that has to be the hallmark of a real treasure.

The Mourners: Medieval Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy at the Dallas Museum of Art, October, 2010.

Gabriela Truly is the Director of Collections Management at the DMA

The Slings and Arrows

Cupid, the iconic figure of Valentine’s Day, wasn’t always the sweet, innocent child portrayed on a Hallmark card. Today’s Cupid derives from the ancient Greek god Eros, a beautiful and effeminate youth known for his mischievous ways.

Eros lamp holder, early 1st century B.C., bronze, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., in honor of Anne Bromberg's 30th anniversary with the Dallas Museum of Art, 2005.12.A-B.McD

Eros was an archer, endowed with the power to make individuals love-struck with his arrows; one strike would make the victim instantly fall in love with the next person he or she saw. Though Eros was mostly benevolent in his use of this power, he could also wreak havoc. Eros took sport in using his bow and arrow to create ill-fated matches.

Jan van Scorel, "Venus and Two Cupids," c. 1528, oil on panel, Dallas Museum of Art, The Karl and Esther Hoblitzelle Collection, gift of the Hoblitzelle Foundation, 1987.29

At times he was reckless and struck unintended victims, including his own mother, Aphrodite. While Eros was leaning in to hug his dear mother, an arrow inadvertently pierced her breast, and although she pushed him away, she instantly became enamored with the next man she saw, a human by the name of Adonis.

Unfortunately for Aphrodite, human-god affairs were scandalous and bound to end in disaster. No one was safe from Eros and his clumsy quiver—not even his mother!

'Folding fan with "Adonis Led by Cupids to Venus," after Francesco Albani,' mount, c. 1720s-1730s; guards and sticks c. 1740s-1750s, gouache and watercolor on double vellum leaf, mother-of-pearl, gilding, and paste gem (later), Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, 1985.R.496

Over time, both his image and his reputation transformed into what we know now: Cupid (the Roman name for Eros), an adorable baby and symbol of romantic, everlasting love. The DMA’s encyclopedic collection provides a great look at how different cultures and periods have appropriated the Cupid figure.

Eros earrings, late 4th century B.C., gold, Dallas Museum of Art, Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund, 1995.25.A-B

"Capital pin with Aphrodite and Eros," 1st century B.C., gold, Dallas Museum of Art, Museum League Purchase Funds, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., and Cecil H. and Ida M. Green in honor of Virginia Lucas Nick, 1991.75.91



Antoine Coypel, "The Alliance of Bacchus and Cupid," c. 1702, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O'Hara Fund, 1990.144.FA

Henri Fantin-Latour, "Venus and Cupid (Venus et l'Amour)", 1895, lithograph, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mrs. A.E. Zonne, 1942.48


Andrew Sears and Hannah Burney are McDermott Interns at the Dallas Museum of Art.


Different Perspectives

We are trying something new at the Dallas Museum of Art in conjunction with our current contemporary art exhibition Mark Manders: Parallel Occurrences/Documented Assignments. What questions or emotions do you experience after viewing Mark Manders’ work? You can now discuss your reactions to the exhibition to discover answers or perhaps look at the work in a new way.

Installation View of "Mark Manders: Parallel Occurrences/Documented Assignments"

Every Thursday, through the end of the exhibition, staff and special guests will be in the exhibition from 6:30 to 8:45 p.m. for our new In Residence program. Just look for the person wearing the In Residence button and start a conversation or ask thim or her a question about Manders’ process or the materials he uses.

Mark Manders, "Ramble-room Chair" , 2010, Courtesy of the artist and Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp

As part of the In Residence program, we have invited an archaeologist, a poet, and an architect not only to answer questions and talk with visitors about what they perceive in Manders’ work but to participate in a conversation for our Perspectives series.

Perspectives is a series of conversations led by DMA staff who will explore with the special guests what their professions can reveal about Manders’ work. The first Perspectives conversation will take place tomorrow evening and will feature archaeologist Dr. Gregory Warden.

Mark Manders, "Anthropological Trophy", 2010, Courtesy of the artist; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York; and Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp

If you can’t join us tomorrow night, be sure to stop by one Thursday evening before April 12 and take part in this new program. It might just change your perspective!

Mark Manders, "Room with Chairs and Factory", 2003-2008, Museum of Modern Art, New York, Marguerite Stone Bequest and Gift of Mrs. Saidie A. May (both by exchange), 393.2010

Stacey Lizotte is Head of Adult Programming and Multimedia Services.

Kicking off our Super Bowl weekend

This week we were pleased to host Gene Jones, Ruth Ryan, and Tiffany Cuban at the DMA for an interview with NBC 5’s Meredith Land. The discussion took place near Henry Moore’s Reclining Mother and Child, located next to the Arts of the Ancient Mediterranean galleries on Level 2. The piece will air this Sunday after the Super Bowl. Below are a few images we captured throughout the day.

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