Archive for the 'Curatorial' Category

America the Beautiful

Yesterday, the DMA had the honor of hosting 49 individuals from 18 countries during the second annual naturalization ceremony in the Museum’s Horchow Auditorium, where they took their oath of allegiance and became the newest citizens of the United States. Akron Watson, a member of the Fortress of Solitude cast from the show’s recent debut and run at the Dallas Theater Center, capped off the event with an inspiring rendition of America the Beautiful. Following the ceremonies, candidates and their families enjoyed refreshments in the Atrium, posed for photos, had a chance to become our newest DMA Friends, and toured the Museum’s American art collection.

Art + Science = Whole Brain Fun

Remember when it was all the rage to call each other left- or right-brain dominant? While these references are still popularly used today, skepticism is growing among scientists as they learn more about the brain.

Strengths in logical, analytical, and verbal thinking have been associated with the left side of the brain, and creative and intuitive thinking have been associated with the right side. Scientific and mathematical types may be labeled “left-brainers,” while artists are considered “right-brainers.”

The reality is that there’s a bit more crisscross throughout the cranial wires. Both sides of our brains may actually tackle the same problem or idea, but each may approach a solution differently. Bottom line: Te brain aims to work efficiently and this means that most of the time the whole brain is working together. How is the health of your whole brain?

Join us for a day that engages and challenges the whole brain! On Saturday, April 12, the worlds of art and science deliberately cross over and mash up at the DMA’s first Art + Science Festival, held in partnership with the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. Here are a few highlights to stimulate your neurons:

  • Stretch your mind during various 20-minute gallery talks with experts. Why might a curator use a CAT scan to learn more about an African sculpture? What can a facial recognition scientist reveal about a portrait?

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  • Inspect art materials and the natural world up-close using DIY digital microscopes with the DMA/Perot Teen Advisory Council.
  • Sit in the Perot’s Portable Universe (only the coolest movable planetarium in town) for one of two featured presentations, The Sky at Night and The Search for Water. After the Portable Universe, marvel at the connections your brain makes as you gaze upon masterworks in two DMA exhibitions. Encounter the realm of the stars in Nur: Light in Art and Science from the Islamic World, which includes a collection of astrolabes (early astronomical computers), a celestial globe, and an astrological album. Alexandre Hogue: The Erosion Series takes an in-depth look at Hogue’s powerful images confronting the tragedies and environmental issues of the Dust Bowl era.

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  • Practice your mind-hand-eye coordination by making some art. Explore lines, shapes, and patterns through the creation of a string art installation with artist Amy Adelman.

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All of these experiences and more await you for FREE at the DMA’s Art + Science Festival on Saturday, April 12. Come for a visit and challenge your whole brain! All ages are invited.

Nicole Stutzman Forbes is Chair of Learning Initiatives and Dallas Museum of Art League Director of Education at the DMA.

Images:
George W. Bellows, Emma in a Purple Dress, 1920-1923, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase; Standing power figure (nkisi nkondi), late 19th-early 20th century, wood, iron, raffia, ceramic, pigment, kaolin, red camwood, resin, dirt, leaves, animal skin, and cowrie shell, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of the McDermott Foundation; Alexandre Hogue, Drouth-Stricken Area, 1934, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase, (c) Olivia Hogue Marino & Amalia Hogue

Words with Friends (and owls, mohels, etc.)

For the exhibition Never Enough: Recent Acquisitions of Contemporary Art, New York-based artist Darren Bader visited Dallas to help us realize a unique work recently purchased by the DMA. Bader is known for his innovative and unconventional use of materials that push the boundaries of sculpture and activates environments with unexpected pairings and phenomenological experiences.

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For example, in the 2012 exhibition Darren Bader: Images at MoMA PS1, the artist presented a room filled with a newly upholstered couch and several live housecats, all of which were available for adoption by museum visitors. Elsewhere the artist installed a selection of vegetables, each on its own wooden pedestal, that was made into salad for gallery visitors by a museum staffer twice a week. While these works all had a social dimension, for the artist these elements are understood to be sculpture of one form or another, albeit in the most expansive definition of the word.

Bader’s work also frequently employs double-entendres and wordplay, as is readily apparent in the series of rhyming couplets that make up the recent acquisition at the DMA, and which is now on view: obi and/with SCOBY; oak with/and smoke; owl and/with towel; oar with/and store; oil with/and mohel; oat and/with note; orc with/and fork. Generally, when a museum purchases a work it has a set physical form, but in this case the work itself consists solely of the words listed in the title above and the conceptual potential for realizing these couplings. These absurd combinations can be realized in physical space (e.g., placing a rowing oar in the DMA store) or in the form of photographic or video documentation to be displayed in the galleries. Contractual agreements like this have a long history within the canon of conceptual art, including works by Marcel Duchamp, Yves Klein, Hans Haacke (with the aid of dealer Seth Siegelaub), and Andrea Fraser, among others.

As the curator for this exhibition, I was tasked with coordinating and/or sourcing the various elements needed to realize this work, including an obi and SCOBY, owl and towel, and even a mohel (more on that in a later blog post). In order to find an owl, we got in touch with Kathy Rogers from Roger’s Wildlife Rescue down in Hutchins, Texas.

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Kathy and her team run an amazing facility that rescues, rehabilitates and houses hundreds of birds of all varieties. For our project, Kathy had three types of owls available—Barred, Barn and Screech—and ultimately we decided to go with Forest, the Barn Owl. Forest was born in captivity, so he is very comfortable around humans and was more than happy to be filmed by the DMA’s crew.

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Next we had to find a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) to go along with the obi (a traditional Japanese sash used with a kimono) we purchased from eBay. Lucky for us, the wonderful people at Holy Kombucha in Fort Worth were more than willing to provide us with a grade-A large SCOBY. While the SCOBY itself is naturally slimy and smelly, it is probiotic, and when used in kombucha it makes for a very tasty health drink; however, in order to exhibit the SCOBY our Objects Conservator dried it in an oven for several hours until it became a tissue-paper thin wafer.

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For those that are curious, the SCOBY will be on view in the Stoffel Gallery, along with video clips representing other pairings from the Bader piece scattered throughout the galleries (included in free general admission!). We have also staged two small interventions outside the gallery spaces that you might encounter on your next trip to the DMA. So if you find an oar in the DMA store, or oats in the DMA donation box, don’t be alarmed . . . it’s only art.

Gabriel Ritter is The Nancy and Tim Hanley Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the DMA.

Searching for Chanel at the DMA

When Wendy Reves donated a massive collection of over 1,400 objects to the DMA in 1985, it was already known that a few large furniture objects, like the dining table, originally belonged to Coco Chanel. Recently, we began a new quest to see what other objects might have belonged to Mlle Chanel that are currently in the DMA’s collection. To do so, we looked at old photographs from the 1930s and 40s, when the designer lived at Villa La Pausa, in southern France, and tried to match furniture in those photos to what we have today in the Reves Collection. When we found matches, we knew that the objects were left behind by Coco Chanel when she sold La Pausa to Emery and Wendy Reves in the early 1950s. Here are a few examples so you can go see for yourself.

The Entry:
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This chandelier was originally in Coco Chanel’s bedroom, hanging above her bed. Like most people who move, Mlle Chanel didn’t feel the need to take the light fixtures in her home with her. Wendy Reves, however, decided this could not stay in her new bedroom and moved it to the entryway of her home.

hanel’s Bedroom at La Pausa, with the chandelier now in the Reves entry and the desk at the right now serving as a buffet table in the Reves Dining Room.

Chanel’s bedroom at La Pausa, with the chandelier now in the Reves entry and the desk at the right, now serving as a buffet table in the Reves Dining Room

The Dining Room:
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This long table was originally used by Coco Chanel as a desk; however, Wendy decided that this could be useful in another way. She unfolded the leaves and moved it into her dining room to act as a buffet table.

The Grand Hall:
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Mlle Chanel had a set of two matching clocks, this one, which is now hanging in the Grand Hall, and another that hangs above the fireplace in the Reves Salon. When Wendy and Emery Reves moved in, they enjoyed these gold clocks and kept them in their original locations before donating them to the DMA.

Coco’s Great Hall, with the same sunburst clock on the wall.

Coco’s Great Hall, with the same sunburst clock on the wall.

The Library:
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Possibly one of the coolest furniture items in the Reves Collection, this chair actually reclines using steel rods that come out of the handles. You can barely see them here, but pulling them out and pushing them in changes the recline of this chair. It is probably not as comfortable as our plush recliners today, but it was still the prototype. This early version of the recliner was originally in Mlle Chanel’s bedroom.

The Reclining Chair in the Library, shown with the rods pulled out

The reclining chair in the Library, shown with the rods pulled out

The Bedroom:
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Originally in Mlle Chanel’s bedroom at La Pausa, this mirror didn’t travel far when Wendy and Emery Reves moved. They opted to keep it in their own bedroom. Interestingly, this is the only item that belonged to Coco Chanel that is in the Reves Bedroom.

The other side of Coco’s bedroom features the mirror now in the bedroom of the Reves collection as well as the reclining chair now in the library.

The other side of Coco’s bedroom features the mirror now in the Reves Bedroom as well as the reclining chair now in the Library.

The Salon:
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Of the many items in this room that belonged to Coco Chanel, we think that this yellow couch might have originally been covered in a darker fabric and left behind when she sold La Pausa. Wendy liked the color yellow and recovered the couch to fit her tastes. We can see the similarity between them when comparing the side views.

Chanel’s Salon at La Pausa, with the same couch seen from the side.

Chanel’s Salon at La Pausa, with the same couch seen from the side

Michael Hartman is the McDermott Intern for European Art at the DMA.

Rauschenberg’s President

In honor of Presidents’ Day, we’re  highlighting the one who watches over the Atrium and greets visitors as they enter the Museum. President John F. Kennedy is featured in the DMA’s Robert Rauschenberg painting Skyway, along with other elements of American history in the 1960s.

Robert Rauschenberg, Skyway, 1964, oil and silkscreen on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Roberta Coke Camp Fund, The 500, Inc., Mr. and Mrs. Mark Shepherd, Jr. and General Acquisitions Fund

Robert Rauschenberg, Skyway, 1964, oil and silkscreen on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Roberta Coke Camp Fund, The 500, Inc., Mr. and Mrs. Mark Shepherd, Jr. and General Acquisitions Fund, (c) Rauschenberg Estate/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Kimberly Daniell is the manager of communications and public affairs at the DMA.

Hide and Go Seek: A Behind-the-Scenes Field Trip to Permanent Collection Storage

A few months ago, the seven other McDermott Interns and I toured art storage with Anne Lenhart, associate registrar for the permanent collection. Each year, McDermott Interns explore the storage facilities and get a sneak peek inside the DMA’s collection. We spotted more than a few hidden gems during the tour, which you can find, too, through our DMA Friends program. DMA Friends points can be redeemed for an Into the Deep reward that explores art storage. See snapshots of the secrets of storage below!

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First stop, Main Storage: Adolph Gottlieb’s Orb, 1964, is rolled out for closer inspection. If you would like to see it for yourself, the painting is on view through March in the Museum’s Hoffman Galleries.
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Second stop, Conservation Office: Mark Leonard, chief conservator, works on a painting’s mounting in his old office. With the opening of the Paintings Conservation Studio in November, his work process is now on public display.
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Third stop, Photography: Here works, such as water pitchers, are photographed for publication.
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Fourth stop, Cold Storage: Marc Quinn’s blood heads have never been stored here. If they ever do come to the Museum, we’ll have the proper storage for them!
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Fifth stop: Textile Storage: Textiles are tightly packed on rungs.
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Sixth stop, Large Objects: While some artists do not designate what particular hardware and software to use for digital artworks, some do. We have a nice collection of “ancient” relics.
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Seventh stop, Prop Storage
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Eighth stop: Meso-American and Small Objects Storage: Anne gives Amy Kaczmarek a closer look.
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Temple Shipley is the McDermott Curatorial Intern for Contemporary Art at the DMA.

Digging Deep

The DMA recently welcomed Dr. Kimberly L. Jones as the new Ellen and Harry S. Parker III Assistant Curator of the Americas. Uncrated caught up with Dr. Jones to find out more about her job and what’s caught her eye as she explored our galleries.

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Describe your job as a curator:
For me, being a curator provides the best of all worlds. At the most basic, it entails being in the presence of amazing human achievements on a daily basis. It generally involves engrossing research on such objects, their artisans, and the cultural context in which the materials were created. It means staying informed about ongoing fieldwork and investigations that ever amplify our knowledge of these cultures. As a curator, I have the opportunity to share such fascinating insights with a broad range of people who visit a museum specifically to appreciate and learn about such hallmarks of human ingenuity. Above all else, I see my role as foremost to honor the amazing cultures of our past and present and to instill in others (hopefully) a bit of my passion and enthusiasm for their diverse conceptions and visual manifestations of the world around us.

What might an average day involve?
An average day so far usually includes juggling a few projects, from more immediate to longer-term. It entails basic catalog revisions, research on the collection, e-mails with colleagues and staff, planning for publications and exhibitions, etc.

How would you describe the best part of your job and its biggest challenges?
The best part of my job is sharing the collections and their cultural contexts with others, in any format, from tours to research inquiries to publications. That people become aware of the rich diversity of populations, practices, beliefs, and artworks throughout the Americas is the most inspiring aspect of my role. The biggest challenges (yet perhaps most fruitful exchanges) may come through the developing nature of collections and exhibitions in ancient American art, as museums engage actively in the modern global community and seek growing collaboration among individuals, institutions, and nations.

Growing up, what type of career did you envision yourself in? Did you think you’d work in an art museum?
Prior to the teenage years, I was pretty well geared toward work in archaeology, as my childhood digging in the backyard clay would attest. For graduate studies, I returned to this natural inclination, doing fieldwork for the past ten years in northern Peru. When my graduate advisor predicted a museum curatorial role for me, I dismissed him at the time, unwilling to relinquish my joy of being in the dirt. But I must admit that it is because of my work in archaeology that I feel so dedicated now to work in a museum, to have the opportunity to do best by the material achievements of these past peoples. The objects themselves remain (especially in societies without recognized writing) a crucial primary testament to ancient cultural beliefs, rituals, practices, concepts, materials, and techniques. The global community—individuals and institutions alike—would only benefit from ever-growing collaboration and commitment to ensure the long-standing preservation and public appreciation of such diverse and treasured heritage.

Do you have a favorite work in the DMA’s collection yet?
As any person who works at this institution would likely say, I cannot name one favorite but rather many that provoke that full-body smile. Emma-O in the Asian Galleries is captivating; I am struck always by the Jazz vase in the Decorative Arts Galleries; Shiva Nataraja in the South Asian Galleries harmonizes meaning and form; the cabinet in the Colonial Americas Gallery is an impressive testament to colonial trade; and the sword (telogu) with sheath from Indonesia is just plain fabulous.

As for my area of the Americas, I could not begin to share how many I cherish as masterworks of their respective cultures, exemplifying at times the technical skill and, at others, the creativity of the artisan. As a museum aims to provide for everyone, the more you know of an object—any artwork—often the more fascinating and engaging it becomes. I hope that through tours, gallery talks, invited lectures, and exhibitions, I will get to share my various “favorites” from the Arts of the Americas collection with an avid, interested community.

What are you looking forward to in your future here at the DMA?
Everything!

Hocus Pocus

Halloween is just around the corner and it has us seeing haunting references in works at the DMA and treats throughout the Museum’s galleries. Tell us which works cause you to have a hair-raising Museum visit.

Honoring Luc Tuymans and TWO x TWO

This year marks the 15th anniversary of TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art, the annual contemporary art auction held at The Rachofsky House benefitting the Dallas Museum of Art and amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research. As a part of TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art 2013, the renowned Belgian artist, Luc Tuymans, will receive the amfAR Award of Excellence for Artistic Contributions to the Fight Against AIDS this weekend, in recognition of his generosity and support of amfAR’s programs. In 2009, the Dallas Museum of Art presented Tuymans’ first retrospective of paintings in the United States, and he has since become one of the most significant artists of his generation with work represented in the world’s most important public and private collections.

Tuymans’ work draws on the historical traditions of Northern European art, as well as photography, television, and cinema, to capture the human condition of the late 20th and 21st centuries. Tuymans is best-known for examining the memory traces of trauma, specifically focusing on politically-charged topics like, the Holocaust, the American response to 9/11, and Belgium’s controversial role in post-colonial Congo.

Luc Tuymans, The Man From Wiels II, 2008, oil on canvas, The Rachofsky Collection and the Dallas Museum of Art through the DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund

Luc Tuymans, The Man From Wiels II, 2008, oil on canvas, The Rachofsky Collection and the Dallas Museum of Art through the DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund

In The Man From Wiels II, Tuymans explores issues of history and memory, as well as the relationship between photography and painting. This painting was purchased in 2009 with funds from the DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction and is currently on view, along with Tuymans’ Mirror, at the DMA.

Meg Smith is the contemporary art curatorial administrative assistant at the DMA

Artist Talk: Jim Hodges

With quiet determination, artist Jim Hodges has, over the past twenty-five years, produced one of the most affective bodies of sculpture, drawing, and installation of any artist of his generation. Jim Hodges: Give More Than You Take brings together works in all media–from modest objects to room-sized installations that engage the viewer in sensory experiences–to fully reveal the breadth and complexity of Hodges’ inventive vision.

Comprising over eighty objects produced from 1987 through the present, the exhibition also includes works never before seen in the United States, along with a major new piece, Untitled (one day it all comes true), created especially for this exhibition.

I’m proud to have worked so closely with Jim Hodges and Olga Viso, executive director of the Walker Art Center, to bring this remarkable exhibition to fruition, and I invite you to be among the first to see it at its US premiere in Dallas, before it travels to Minneapolis, Boston, and Los Angeles. Please join me in the Horchow Auditorium for a conversation with Jim Hodges tomorrow evening, October 3, at 7:30 p.m., and join us for a sneak peek on Saturday, October 5, a day before the exhibition opening.

Jeffrey Grove is the senior curator of special projects & research at the DMA.


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