Archive for June, 2014

What Our Staff Is Viewing

Last week, DMA staff got a chance to preview our newest special exhibition, Mind’s Eye: Masterworks on Paper from David to Cézanne, with co-curators Olivier Meslay and Bill Jordan. Because of their delicate nature, many of these works on paper by Delacroix, Degas, Cézanne, van Gogh, Manet, Schiele, Mondrian, Picasso, and more than sixty others are rarely on view. We’re open all week—including July 4—so stop by for what may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see them.

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Photography by Adam Gingrich, DMA Digital Media Specialist.

 

Keeping It Cool

The weather is heating up outside but it’s a cool, comfy, and constant 70 degrees (or thereabouts) at the DMA, where our temperature and humidity is monitored 24/7. More than 220 sensors are hidden throughout the Museum, and they help us record and regulate our internal environment.

With our encyclopedic collection and a vast array of media, 70 degrees with 50% humidity is the museum gold standard to best protect and preserve the precious objects entrusted to our care. If conditions are too dry, our wooden sculptures could crack; too humid, and other objects could start to mildew. What we try to avoid most are dramatic fluctuations in temperature and humidity, which could cause materials to expand and contract.

Artworks that are particularly vulnerable to climatic conditions are sometimes monitored in their cases. Wandering through our galleries, you may spot these tiny devices (just 1 x 2 inches) lurking in the corners. These hygrothermographs are temperature and humidity sensors that give us real-time environmental readings.

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Lacquer in particular, such as these works from our Asian collection, is susceptible to fluctuations, which can cause the material to lift and crack. For objects needing lower humidity, we sometimes hide the desiccant silica gel inside the casework (under decks and mounts) to create special microclimates.

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So as temperatures and humidity soar in the Dallas summer, come cool off in the Museum, where general admission (and air conditioning) is always free.

Reagan Duplisea is the Associate Registrar of Exhibitions at the DMA. 

DMA Art Will Be Everywhere

The votes are in, the results have been tallied, and the Art Everywhere US works have been chosen! The voting was so close that fifty-eight works of art made the cut (including ten works from the DMA) and will be reproduced on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms, and more this August. Be on the lookout for The Icebergs or Dorothy on your commute and stop by the DMA to visit the works in person.

Kimberly Daniell is the Manager of Communications and Public Affairs at the DMA

Highlights of Light

It’s the final week to visit the DMA-co-organized exhibition Nur: Light in Art and Science from the Islamic World, on view through Sunday, June 29. The acclaimed exhibition, which features more than 150 objects from ten centuries, highlights rare and beautiful examples of the rich heritage of the Islamic world and the influences and contributions it has made to cultures throughout history.

 

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Dad’s Day

One day isn’t enough to celebrate dads, or the fathers found in the DMA collection. Artists have shown their appreciation for their old man by capturing him in paint and pen and below are a few examples from the Museum’s collection.

Paul Cezanne, Portrait of the Artist's Father, 1868-1873, charcoal, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection

Paul Cezanne, Portrait of the Artist’s Father, 1868-1873, charcoal, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection

Gustave Courbet, Portrait of Regis Courbet, the Artist's Father, 1848-1849, watercolor and pencil on wove paper, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection

Gustave Courbet, Portrait of Regis Courbet, the Artist’s Father, 1848-1849, watercolor and pencil on wove paper, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection

Wayne V. Amerine, Father and Child, 1962, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Art Museum League Purchase Prize, 33rd Annual Dallas County Exhibition of Painting, Drawing and Sculpture, 1962

Wayne V. Amerine, Father and Child, 1962, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Art Museum League Purchase Prize, 33rd Annual Dallas County Exhibition of Painting, Drawing and Sculpture, 1962

Sculpture for the Body – Art Smith at the DMA

Art Smith , Untitled, 1948-1979, wood, paint, copper, Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Charles L. Russell, 2007.61.36a-m

Art Smith , Untitled, 1948-1979, wood, paint, copper, Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Charles L. Russell, 2007.61.36a-m

This week we are putting the finishing touches on the DMA’s presentation of the exhibition From the Village to Vogue: The Modernist Jewelry of Art Smith. Highlighting a pioneer of late 20th-century jewelry design whose work represents the progressive modernist impulse of “sculpture for the body,” the installation is both dramatic in appearance and revealing in what it contains. This collection, which also features examples of works by Smith’s contemporaries, is drawn from the collection of the Brooklyn Museum, which received a major gift of the artist’s work in 2007. While we are thrilled to host this exhibition of a leading American jewelry artist, our interest in having From the Village to Vogue appear at the DMA was also to note the larger importance of this medium and reflect upon the DMA’s interest in expanding our jewelry holdings. Just as fashion boldly entered our galleries through the 2011 presentation of The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, this year we will not only feature the work of Art Smith but also, excitingly, make plans for future exhibitions of jewelry and other design arts.

Art Smith, Ellington Necklace, circa 1962, silver, turquoise, amethyst, prase, rhodonite, Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Charles L. Russell, 2007.61.4

Art Smith, “Ellington” Necklace, c. 1962, silver, amethyst, chrysoprase, rhodonite, green quartz, Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Charles L. Russell, 2007.61.4

Beyond the realm of curators and collectors of modernist studio jewelry, Art Smith’s work is often unfamiliar, yet his impact and those of his contemporaries in the decades following World War II helped shape a new American movement in both design and craft. Drawing from the trend toward abstraction in painting and sculpture, Smith and other designer-craftspeople experimented with highly stylized forms, particularly the biomorphic imagery that characterized the work of sculptors such as Isamu Noguchi and, notably, Alexander Calder. Unlike other sculptors who may have occasionally produced jewelry, Calder’s passion for the medium appeared at least equal to that for his more widely known large-scale mobiles and stabiles. Like Calder, Smith reveled in the whirling organic line: bent wirework that was complemented by flattened ovoid forms, semiprecious stones, and richly finished patinas. Unlike so-called “high-style” jewelry, faceted gemstones and highly polished precious metals were typically set aside in preference for subdued materials and more direct fabrication techniques that were undoubtedly less labor intensive, but also ones that provided more visceral results by reflecting the hands of the artist as an immediate, personal expression. What could be more perfect for the medium of jewelry, which is, like other elements of fashion, an equally personal manifestation of the wearer’s preferences? And they were indeed artists in keeping with the spirit of the times; the modern sculpture, painting, and rhythmic vibrancy of jazz that Smith admired certainly echo throughout the punctuated, gestural lines, which form a type of visual play in his richly syncopated designs. You may notice this almost immediately upon entering the darkly colored main gallery, which features Smith’s work. Even in static display, each piece seems to dance with a particular life of its own.

(left) Art Smith, "Modern Cuff" Bracelet, designed circa 1948, silver, Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Charles L. Russell, 2007.61.15; (right) Peter Basch, Model Wearing Art Smith's "Modern Cuff" Bracelet, circa 1948, black-and-white photograph, Courtesy of Brooklyn Museum

(left) Art Smith, “Modern Cuff” Bracelet, designed c. 1948, silver, Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Charles L. Russell, 2007.61.15; (right) Peter Basch, Model Wearing Art Smith’s “Modern Cuff” Bracelet, c. 1948, black-and-white photograph, Courtesy of Brooklyn Museum

As you might expect, it is always exciting for the many hands and minds that make such exhibitions possible at the DMA to delve into a new arena as we are doing now with modern jewelry. From interpretation to design, each of our exhibitions requires hundreds of hours of brainstorming, logistical planning, and creative input, all with the hope that whatever subject we bring you will be offered in a way you will find compelling or even thrilling. As a curator, communicating facts is only one part of my job; sharing my enthusiasm for looking, learning, and celebrating the diverse creative achievements of the visual world is, at heart, what I and all of my colleagues at the DMA do every day. We hope you will find From the Village to Vogue: The Modernist Jewelry of Art Smith and our new jewelry endeavors just as exciting as we do!

Kevin Tucker is The Margot B. Perot Senior Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the DMA.

Free Summer Fun

Summer has officially arrived at the DMA! Today we began our Summer Art Camps and launched our free summer activities. Throughout June and July, we’re offering new opportunities for fun in the Museum every day of the week, on top of our year-round free general admission. Families can catch a tall tale in the DMA galleries on Tuesdays or join a family tour every Thursday. And visitors can learn more about the DMA’s collection and exhibitions during lunchtime gallery talks every Wednesday. There are many ways to experience the DMA for free, including our upcoming Late Night on Friday, June 20, and the Dallas Arts District block party! Find out about all of this and more summer fun at DMA.org.


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