Archive for the 'Contemporary Art' Category

#DMAVacation

Nic Nicosia, Vacation, 1986, cibachrome photograph, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Meisel Photochrome Corporation © 1986 Nic Nicosia, Dallas, Texas

Nic Nicosia, Vacation, 1986, cibachrome photograph, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Meisel Photochrome Corporation, © 1986 Nic Nicosia, Dallas, Texas

Earlier this month, the large photograph Vacation by Nic Nicosia was installed in the Center for Creative Connections (C3). Vacation is one of seven photographs that comprise Nic Nicosia’s Life As We Know It series. In this series depicting contemporary American life, Nicosia plays with everyday topics such as fashion, youth, and violence. Through his use of fabricated environments and staged scenes, Nicosia blurs the line between illusion and reality. This surreal atmosphere is enhanced by the ironic twists, such as the burning plane in the background, on what would otherwise be ordinary situations.

Inspired by this work of art, the C3 team created a photo station where visitors can pose for their own staged picnic-themed photograph. Some have embraced the surreal nature of Nicosia’s work more than others. Check out our visitors’ photographs and stop by C3 to snap a photo of your DMA vacation.

Jessica Fuentes is the C3 Gallery Coordinator

The Museum is History

This weekend, explore works from the Museum’s modern and contemporary collection in a new installation by the DMA’s new Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art, Gavin Delahunty. The Museum Is History: Modern and Contemporary Art from 1950-1990 installation, featuring work by Jackson Pollock, Atsuko Tanaka, John Chamberlain, and more, will be on view through November and it is included in the DMA’s free general admission.

 

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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.

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.

Everything is Everything

This week the DMA unveiled the work Everything is Everything (2006) by the artist Koki Tanaka, which will be on view in the Concourse for the next five months.

video

The work of Koki Tanaka takes shape primarily as video and installation that explores the relationship between objects and actions. His videos record simple gestures performed with ordinary objects—a knife cutting vegetables, beer poured into a glass, the opening of an umbrella—in which seemingly “nothing happens.” Yet, through their repetitive composition and heightened attention to detail, Tanaka’s videos compel us to take notice of the mundane phenomena of daily life. Latent patterns and geometrical forms emerge out of Tanaka’s work, and otherwise ordinary objects are transformed, providing an epiphany of sorts from moments of everyday life.

EVERYTHING IS EVERYTHING, 2006, Eight channel DVDs, color, sound and materials in everyday use, dimension variable, installed at Taipei Biennial 2006 in Taipei Fine Arts Museum. Image courtesy of the artist, Aoyama Meguro, Tokyo, and Vitamin Creative Space, Guangzhou.

Everything is Everything, 2006, eight-channel DVDs, color, sound, and materials in everyday use, installed at Taipei Biennial 2006 in Taipei Fine Arts Museum
(Image courtesy of the artist, Aoyama Meguro, Tokyo, and Vitamin Creative Space, Guangzhou)

The eight-channel video installation Everything is Everything was first created for exhibition at the 2006 Taipei Biennial. For this work, the artist and two assistants spent a total of eight days recording their interactions and interventions with readily available items, including hangers, cups, towels, an air mattress, and toilet paper, all found around the city of Taipei. The physical properties of these objects were tested (a metal hanger is stretched to its breaking point) or their uses were expanded (a level placed on two table legs becomes an impromptu hurdle). Tanaka and his assistants experimented with these objects multiple times, both indoors and in public, and their exploits were compiled into eight distinct video loops ranging in length from 1:19 to 1:50 minutes. Tanaka’s tightly cropped framing of each scene often features the performers from the neck down or removes them from the shot altogether, thus focusing the viewer’s attention on the objects and the simple, repetitive acts being performed.

In her canonical text, Passages in Modern Sculpture (1981), art historian and critic Rosalind Krauss begins the book’s final chapter with a film by Richard Serra, Hand Catching Lead (1968), in which the artist’s disembodied hand tenaciously attempts to catch pieces of falling lead. Krauss reads Serra’s film as characteristic of minimalist sculpture in the way that it “exploit[s] a kind of found object for its possibilities as an element in a repetitive structure.” The repetitive nature of the actions in Everything is Everything, combined with the use of inexpensive, mass-produced materials, highlights an affinity Tanaka’s videos share with the logic of minimalist sculpture and process art of the 1960s. Similarly, Tanaka’s repetitive use of the objects in Everything is Everything alludes to Serra’s Verb List (1967–68), in which the artist listed eighty-four verbs such as “to roll . . . to crumple . . . to drop . . . to scatter” as a means to relate actions to “oneself, material, place, and process.” Tanaka’s object-oriented work is indebted to minimalism as well as to the legacies of Mono-ha and Arte Povera, as evidenced by a shared interest in exploring the physicality and formal qualities of quotidian objects through processes of encounter and repetition.

Japan Pavilion Photos: Keizo Kioku

Japan Pavilion Photos: Keizo Kioku

Japan Pavilion Photos: Keizo Kioku

Japan Pavilion Photos: Keizo Kioku

Koki Tanaka was born in Tochigi, Japan, in 1975, and currently lives and works in Los Angeles. He received his MFA from Tokyo University of the Arts, Japan, in 2005 and has since been the subject of solo exhibitions at UC Irvine University Art Gallery (2012), the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco (2010), and the Museum of Modern Art, Gunma (2008). Recent group exhibitions include Made in L.A. at the Hammer Museum (2012), the Yokohama Triennale (2011), and Making is Thinking at the Witte de With, Rotterdam (2011). Most recently, Tanaka was selected to represent Japan in the 55th Venice Biennale, for which he received a special mention.

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

Music and Masterpieces

We are very excited about the upcoming launch of a new program, Music and Masterpieces, produced in partnership with the Dallas Opera, on Saturday, November 10.

We have worked closely with our Arts District neighbor the Dallas Opera on many programs and projects in the past. These have included the commission of the song cycle A Question of Light by writing duo Gene Scheer and Jake Heggie, which was inspired by works of art in the DMA’s collection in honor of our shared benefactor and art advocate Margaret McDermott; hosting several special opera season preview performances; and most recently hosting a recital by Laura Claycomb.

The success and positive response to  A Question of Light started us thinking: How can we connect the art of performance and music with the art in the galleries in a more meaningful way, and more often? After a fun brainstorming session between the DMA programming staff and the Opera’s Marketing and Education department, the idea for Music and Masterpieces was born. The DMA and the Dallas Opera will work together to choose a theme based on an area of the DMA’s collection or special exhibitions that will serve as inspiration for a performance and tour to be held on the same day. Through this pairing, visitors will gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of both of these art forms and the influences they have on one another within a shared theme, era, or culture.

Jules Cheret, “Jardin de Paris”, 1890, color lithograph, Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Milton F. Gutglass, M1998.158, Photo by John R. Glembin, Milwaukee Art Museum

Next Saturday’s Music and Masterpieces program is inspired by the exhibition Posters of Paris: Toulouse-Lautrec and His Contemporaries. Nathalie Paulin*, a French-Canadian soprano, will perform music ranging from late 19th-century French opera to art songs and Parisian bistro chansons. A tour of the exhibition will follow the performance. The performance will start at 2:00 p.m, and the tour will begin at 3:00 p.m. Please arrive early as space on the tour is limited and on a first-come, first-served basis the day of the event. 

Nathalie Paulin

We have other Music and Masterpieces programs in the works as well. On January 27, 2013, we will feature Twyla Robinson*, soprano, with Charles Dillard* as accompanist. This program will be themed around the exhibition Difference? and will include music from the 20th century featuring strong feminine themes.

We hope to see you Saturday and at future Music and Masterpieces programs!

Denise Helbing is the Manager of Partner Programs at the Dallas Museum of Art.

*Artists subject to change

Calling all Dallasites

“Birds on the wire” Photograph from the opening of a 500X Gallery show, February 13, 1978. 500X Gallery Records, 1977-1996.

In 2013 the Dallas Museum of Art will celebrate a milestone in our institutional history: the 1963 merger of the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Art with the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. The DMA is marking this occasion by launching an initiative to show how this moment was a starting point for community-wide interest in and support of contemporary art.

Brochure for the “Dallas Art ’78” exhibition at Dallas City Hall, Publications and Printed Materials.

By looking at the North Texas art scene over the past five decades, we hope to bring greater public awareness to the richly varied but widely undiscovered history of the area’s contemporary art avant-garde. People, places, and events are the subjects of this project, as we look outside the Museum to topics like the emergence of the gallery scene in the late 1960s with galleries like Valley House, C. Troup Gallery, Haydon Calhoun, Mary Nye, and more, and the establishment of an artists’ community as collectives take shape (the Oak Lawn Gang in the 1960s, the Oak Cliff Four and the “842s” in the 1970s, Toxic Shock in the 1980s, A.R.T.E. and the Good/Bad Art Collective in the 1990s, etc.) and artist-run spaces emerge, like A.U.M. Gallery,  D.W. Coop, 500X Gallery, and Stout McCourt Gallery.

Gallery announcement for David McCullough’s studio exhibition of his work with James Surls in December, c. 1976. Paul Rogers Harris Collection of Dallas and Texas Gallery Announcements.

Gallery announcement for “Dubious Edge” exhibition at Theatre Gallery, c. 1987. Paul Rogers Harris Collection of Dallas and Texas Gallery Announcements.

Gallery announcement for “el clumsio” group exhibition at Angstrom Gallery, November – December, 1996. Paul Rogers Harris Collection of Dallas and Texas Gallery Announcements.

Over the past year, we have developed the content that will form the basis of an exhibition scheduled to open at the Museum in May 2013. During this time, I have conducted oral history interviews with artists, arts administrators, collectors, and writers; waded through thousands of gallery announcements dating as far back as the late 1960s; burned my eyes from looking through miles of microfilmed collections; and done my best to get the word out that the DMA wants to know YOUR story.

Poster for the Old Oak Cliff Kinetic Sculpture Parade sponsored by the Oak Cliff Preservation League, September 21, 1985. Paul Rogers Harris Collection of Dallas and Texas Gallery Announcements.

So let’s hear it – do you have anything you would like to share with us regarding your experience with contemporary arts in North Texas? Is there anything you are certain MUST be part of this project? This is my formal open call to Dallasites: as we develop the content for the exhibition, we are going to do our best to represent Dallas and its surroudning arts community over the past fifty years, but we do need your help. What is sitting in your closet? Do you have photographs from gallery openings or performances? Records from your gallery? Press releases announcing your show? Publications that help to document the “scene”?

Toxic Shock page from Bwana Arts, vol. 3, 1982. Paul Rogers Harris Papers, 1959-2001.

The exhibition is only the first step as we present to you what we have found. In the coming years, we hope to add to the DMA Archives, making it the primary repository for the history of contemporary art in North Texas. So if you have something you’d like to share (be it tangible ephemera or abstract memories), please do not hesitate to contact me at larnold@DallasMuseumofArt.org. I look forward to hearing from you!

“500X in a Box,” box of a single work by every member of 500X in 1989. Charles Dee Mitchell Collection.

Leigh Arnold is the Dallasites Research Project Coordinator at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Focus on: Nobuo Sekine

For the past few months, Japanese sculptor Nobuo Sekine’s (b. 1942) works have been on view in the Marguerite and Robert Hoffman Galleries. For those of you who haven’t seen them yet, or are still wondering what these works are all about, this blog post is for you.

Phase No. 10 (1968), Phase of Nothingness-Water (1969/2005), and Phase of Nothingness-Cloth and Stone (1970/1994) were originally created in the late 1960s, and what they have in common is the word “phase” in their title. In order to understand these works better, let’s first talk briefly about global art trends in the late 1960s and then explore the idea of “phase” that so interested Sekine.

In the early 1960s, artists such as Richard Serra, Donald Judd, and Robert Morris made a clear shift away from the gestural quality of abstract expressionism (Jackson Pollock) and embraced a more minimal aesthetic. Minimalist art was intended to discard the emotionality of the past along with all non-essential formal elements related to the art object. The resulting work took shape as hard-edge geometric volumes created with industrial materials that showed little-to-no evidence of the artist’s hand in its making. As minimal sculpture evolved, artists in the late 1960s began moving outside the white cube of the gallery and museum space to create large-scale outdoor works that used the earth itself as the medium. Known as Land Art, this movement was closely associated with the work of Robert Smithson, Michael Heitzer, and others. It is within this transitional moment between minimalism and Land Art that the work of Sekine Nobuo and the Mono-ha movement in Japan came into being.

Phase Mother Earth (1968/2012) (Photo courtesy of artspacetokyo.com)

The term Mono-ha (meaning “School of Things”) encompassed a variety of different forms and approaches, but at its core the short-lived movement explored the encounter between natural and industrial objects. Using natural materials such as stone, wood, and cotton in their unadulterated states, in conjunction with wire, light bulbs, glass, and steel plates, the work of Mono-ha artists presented objects “just as they are,” with the hope of bridging the gap between the human mind and the material world.

The tenets of Mono-ha are most clearly embodied in Nobuo Sekine’s famous outdoor sculpture Phase Mother Earth (1968/2012). Often cited as the beginning of the Mono-ha movement, Sekine’s sculpture consists of a 2.2 meter-tall cylinder of earth positioned beside a hole of the exact same dimensions. While clearly in dialogue with other American and European Land Art of the time, the modest scale of Sekine’s work invites the viewer to experience the earth simply as earth rather than as a grand artistic gesture writ large across the landscape.

Phase No. 10, Nobuo Sekine, 1968, Steel, lacquer, and paint, The Rachofsky Collection and the Dallas Museum of Art through the DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund

Sekine’s Phase-Mother Earth is closely related to the artist’s previous sculptures exploring the mathematical field of topology. Topology is a field of spatial geometry in which space and materials are considered malleable and can undergo countless transformations from one “phase” (state) to another without adding or subtracting from the original form/materials. In Sekine’s words, “a certain form can be transformed continually by methods such as twisting, stretching, condensing, until it is transformed into another.” This idea of manipulating form and space can be seen in Sekine’s work Phase No. 10 (1968) currently on view at the DMA. This wall-mounted sculpture closely resembles a Mobius strip, and when viewed head-on it appears to be a flat, curvilinear design, but when viewed at an angle the sculpture juts out from the wall, creating an optical illusion.

Phase of Nothingness—Water, Nobuo Sekine, 1969/2005, Steel, lacquer, and water, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund

The work Phase of Nothingness—Water (1968) continues Sekine’s engagement with topology. To illustrate these ideas, the artist juxtaposed two equivalent shapes—a cylinder and a rectangle—both containing the same volume of water. At first glance, it doesn’t appear that the shallow rectangular tank and the tall cylindrical tank both hold the exact same amount of water. Similar to his earlier outdoor sculpture Phase—Mother Earth, this work attempts to depict a sense of equivalence and emphasizes the continuity of form and material. These two shapes are not meant to be seen as opposites but as equals. As Sekine explains, “[T]he mass of the universe neither increases nor decreases. This is the universe of eternal sameness. When one becomes aware of this, then the futility of modern concepts of creation can be realized.”

I hope this blog helps explain some of the fascinating (and at times complicated) ideas that inform Sekine’s sculpture. The exhibition closes Sunday, so plan your visit to the DMA before it’s too late!

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

Seldom Scene: Scaled Down

The new DMA exhibition Variations on Theme: Contemporary Art 1950s–Present explores themes and ideas that drive an artists’ creative process. With this concept in mind, the Contemporary Art Department thought it would be the perfect opportunity to share one way that curators tap into their own creative processes when developing a new exhibition – by using a scale model. Curators use scale models much like they would a doll house, to rationalize the gallery space in accordance with the placement of the art objects. Variations on Theme is installed in the gallery spaces known as the Barrel Vault and Quadrant Galleries, which are roughly 11,500 square feet. DMA carpenter Dennis Bishop constructed a wooden model of these galleries with a scale of 1:24 (one half-inch equals one foot). The objects in Variations on Theme are of various sizes and mediums and are complicated to install, so in order to visualize how certain works might look next to one another DMA exhibitions intern Jasmine Shevell created maquettes of each work that are proportional to the scale model of the exhibition space. Once each object is set into place, the design model is shared with our talented exhibitions team, registrar, and preparators, who bring the curator’s model to life!
Variations on Theme is on view at the Dallas Museum of Art until January 27, 2013.

Meg Smith is a Curatorial Administrative Assistant at the Dallas Museum of Art. Photography is by Adam Gingrich, the Marketing Administrative Assistant at the Dallas Museum of Art.


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