Archive for the 'European Art' Category

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.

Reclining Nymph Gets a New Name

You may have heard that we recently reattributed a Baroque sculpture in the Wendy and Emery Reves Collection to the artist Giovanni Bonazza. Here’s an interview with Olivier Meslay, associate director of curatorial affairs at the DMA, explaining how he discovered the true artist of Reclining Nymph:

For additional information on the sculpture and its reattribution, you can read the full press release here or see the work up close, and for free, on view in The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection on Level 3.

Off the Walls: Erminia and the Shepherds

The DMA’s galleries house art from around the world, and each work has a story. Olivier Meslay, the Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs and Barbara Thomas Lemmon Curator of European Art at the Dallas Museum of Art, shares insight about the recent acquisition Erminia and the Shepherds, by Guillaume Guillon Lethière. After you learn about the artist and the history of the painting, visit the work on Level 2 for free!

DMA Friends: A Daily Dose of Art

“I travel a lot and always go to an art museum. But it’s expensive. Here—it’s free. I come all the time and stay like fifteen minutes…I get my daily dose of art.”

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This month, Robert “Bobby” Kaufman became the first DMA Friend to claim a high-point-level reward offered through DMA Friends, the free membership program that launched in January 2013. “The quality of rewards is so high and a positive incentive for coming [to the DMA].” For 35,000 points, Bobby claimed the “Dinner and a Movie” reward. Come this May, he’ll dine on the DMA’s dime and watch a movie of his choosing with his invited guests in the Horchow Auditorium. Way to go, Bobby!

I sat down with Bobby for a chat last Thursday and discovered that he is without a doubt one of our most loyal DMA Friends. He stands out among our growing crowd of 5,500+ Friends who participate in DMA activities ranging from viewing art in the galleries to making something in the Center for Creative Connections to attending our weekly Gallery Talks. Bobby earns points by visiting and participating often, in short spurts. He spends most of his time in the American and European galleries, where he returns to favorite works and leaves feeling inspired. “I can’t paint. . . . But looking at the masters is a reminder to me to try to create something important.” An aspiring poet, he hopes to make his mark in the field of writing one day. He eloquently related to me how details in two of his favorite European paintings—in particular the gestures of figures in each painting—inspire him to be evocative and thoughtful when describing characters through his words.

Born and raised in Dallas, Bobby told me that he came to the Museum maybe once when he was growing up. Two years ago, his parents gave him a DMA membership when he took a teaching position in the English Department of a Dallas-area high school. Then, he started visiting the DMA every few months. Since the DMA returned to FREE general admission and launched the DMA Friends program in January, he’s visited nearly every day–often after school on weekdays. He opted not to renew his DMA membership because the DMA Friends program gives him exactly what he needs for an art museum experience.

Want to learn more about how to become a DMA Friend and earn points and rewards like Bobby? Visit DMA.org/friends and then come by the Museum to see us!

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

A Dot That Went for a Walk

Once again, the Works on Paper Gallery on the Museum’s second level is being reinstalled. Fourteen drawings, lithographs, etchings, and engravings by some of the 20th century’s greatest artists—Henri Matisse, Alberto Giacometti, Pablo Picasso, and many more—will adorn the gray walls.

The new installation, titled Linear Possibilities in Modern European Prints, didn’t come together overnight. I’ve been working on it for the last six months, and I am now very excited (even a bit nervous) to present it to the Museum’s public. The idea came to me after looking many times through the Museum’s collection of European works on paper, which includes over 2,000 prints, drawings, and photographs dating from the late 1400s to the 1980s.

Henri Matisse, Loulou, 1914, etching, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of the Wendover Fund

Henri Matisse, Loulou, 1914, etching, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of the Wendover Fund, © 2013 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

I had to work with a few limiting factors before finding my final concept. The three walls of the gallery can only accommodate a certain number of works comfortably, so I had to keep the number within a range of eight to fourteen works. Also, works on paper are very sensitive to natural light. The longer a work is on view, the more damage that occurs, causing the paper to darken and certain media to fade. Therefore, I couldn’t use any work that had recently been on view. I found a few possibilities based on particular themes or artistic movements before choosing to investigate lines, one of art’s most basic elements.

Alberto Giacometti, Annette in the Studio, 1954, lithograph, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alfred L. Bromberg

Alberto Giacometti, Annette in the Studio, 1954, lithograph, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alfred L. Bromberg, © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

The idea was influenced by a great quote from the Swiss artist Paul Klee: “A line is a dot that went for a walk.” Lines appear in many types and sizes: vertical, horizontal, zigzagged, curvy, squiggly, thick, thin, long, short. When combined, lines reveal spaces or forms and allude to volume or mass. They can possess emotive qualities as well as imply movement.

Paul Klee, Hoffmanesque Scene (Hoffmaneske Szene), 1921, color lithograph, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Stuart Gordon Johnson by exchange; General Acquisitions Fund; and The Patsy Lacy Griffith Collection, gift of Patsy Lacy Griffith by exchange

Paul Klee, Hoffmanesque Scene, 1921, color lithograph, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Stuart Gordon Johnson by exchange; General Acquisitions Fund; and The Patsy Lacy Griffith Collection, gift of Patsy Lacy Griffith by exchange, (c) Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Pablo Picasso, Three Standing Nudes, at Right, Sketches of Heads (Trois nus debout, à droite esquisses de têtes), 1927, etching, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase

Pablo Picasso, Three Standing Nudes (left) and Sketches of Heads (right), 1927, etching, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase, © 2013 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The works in the installation demonstrate how painters and sculptors of the European avant-garde turned to drawing and printmaking in a new manner, creating with nothing but lines. They explored the possibilities of rhythmic or abstracted sequences of delicate, robust, and expressive lines in their compositions of a nude, an artist’s studio, or more abstracted scenes. There is an astonishing beauty to be found in these prints and drawings by Matisse, Giacometti, Picasso, and others. I encourage you to visit the Dallas Museum of Art (general admission is free!) to see these amazing and innovative works.

Linear Possibilities in Modern European Prints goes on view in the European Art Galleries on Level 2 Sunday, March 17.

Hannah Fullgraf is the McDermott Graduate Curatorial Intern in European 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

Red, White, and Blue

Some visitors to the DMA may have taken our self-guided tour Seeing Red, and loyal readers of our blog may remember a post we did back in December about works in our collection that are white. So while we have not focused on the color blue yet, we thought this would be a good day to share with you a few works in our collection that feature red, white, and blue.

Striped chevron bead, Drawn glass, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of The Dozier Foundation

Childe Hassam, Flags, Fifth Avenue, 1918, Watercolor, Dallas Museum of Art, Munger Fund, in memory of Mrs. George Aldredge

Anne Vallayer-Coster, Bouquet of Flowers in a Blue Porcelain Vase, 1776, Oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O’Hara Fund and gift of Michael L. Rosenberg

Rufino Tamayo, El Hombre (Man), 1953, Vinyl with pigment on panel, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association commission, Neiman-Marcus Company Exposition Funds [credit line published in 1997 DMA Guide to the Collections: Dallas Museum of Art, commissioned by the Dallas Art Association through Neiman-Marcus Exposition Funds]

Piet Mondrian, Composition with Large Blue Plane, Red, Black, Yellow, and Gray, 1921, Oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Mrs. James H. Clark

Yves Tanguy, Apparitions, 1927, Oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., in honor of Nancy O’Boyle

Jean Antoine Theodore Giroust, Oedipus at Colonus, 1788, Oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O’Hara Fund

James Brooks, Quand, 1969, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Meadows Foundation Incorporated

Wassily Kandinsky, Boating (from Sounds), 1907-1911, 1913, Volume with thirty-eight prose poems and twelve color and forty-four black-and-white woodcuts, Dallas Museum of Art, Centennial gift of Natalie H. (Schatzie) and George T. Lee

Stacey Lizotte is the Head of Adult Programming and Multimedia Services.

Picasso and African Art

Our Picasso masterwork Bust is normally considered in the context of early 20th-century modernism. Its home is in the European galleries alongside the works of Picasso’s cohorts like Matisse, Braque, and Léger; however, a recent installation in our European Galleries offers up a new reading of the painting—that it has footings not only in European modernism but also in African art.

Picasso is known to have been captivated by African art. He frequented the Trocadéro, Paris’s famed ethnographic museum, to study its holdings. He was also an avid collector of African objects and amassed over one hundred statuettes, textiles, and masks, all of which he stored in his studio.

Picasso in his studio at the Bateau-Lavoir, Paris, 1908, Musée Picasso, Paris,
Photo Credit: Réunion des Musées Nationaux

Although these so-called “primitive arts” held little monetary value—most were seen as mere trinkets and lined the shelves of curio shops, flea markets, and bistro tablescapes—their alien forms and dramatic abstractions were invaluable inspirations for Picasso. He carefully studied African works, mimicked them, and even openly copied them. He found them to be complex, conceptually sophisticated, and emotionally charged because their abstractions expressed the “unseen” and “unuterrable” in visual and quantifiable terms. Throughout his career, Picasso struggled with trying to represent the unknown or unrepresentable, and African abstract forms gave him a clear visual language to express what he couldn’t before.

In the case of our painting Bust, he appears to have lifted the entire compositional makeup of a kifwebe mask and translated it into a two-dimensional painted form:

Pablo Picasso, “Bust,” 1907-08, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Joshua L. Logan, Loula D. Lasker, Ruth and Nathan Cummings Art Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Edward S. Marcus, Sarah Dorsey Hudson, Mrs. Alfred L. Bromberg, Henry Jacobus and an anonymous donor, by exchange, 1987.399.FA, © Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Democratic Republic of the Congo, Songye or Luba Peoples, Helmet mask (“kifwebe”) and costume, late 19th to early 20th century, wood, paint, fiber, cane, and gut, Dallas Museum of Art, The Gustave and Franyo Schindler Collection of African Sculpture, gift of the McDermott Foundation in honor of Eugene McDermott, 1974.Sc.42

The stylistic resonances between the two works are truly striking. Both have the same facial configuration—a convex forehead contrasted by a concave facial plane—and the same facial features, from the almond-shaped downcast eyes, to the broad band bisecting the foreheads, to the fine-lined surface relief.

Through painting a female subject in the likeness of an abstract kifwebe mask, Picasso saw himself as able to visually articulate the invisible aspects of her nature—a feat not possible through a mere depiction of a human form. Moreover, he saw this abstract representation as a “real” representation of a person; for him, reality was something beyond our eyes, so representing someone’s internalized and invisible nature meant he was representing who someone really is. Through abstraction, Picasso was able to make the female figure’s spirit not only visible but real, living, and tangible; through African art, Picasso was able to eclipse old modes of representation and was, in his words, “freed.”


Andrew Sears is the McDermott Curatorial Intern for European and American Art at the Dallas Museum of Art.


Picture This – Part Deux

Over a year ago, the Dallas Museum of Art sent  College of Animals by Cornelis Saftleven (1607-1681) to a conservator for cleaning and minor repair. With the grime removed from the Dutch artist’s enigmatic composition, it was the perfect time to do a bit more. So we replaced the thin, unadorned gilt frame that formerly surrounded the canvas with one more in keeping with the sort preferred by Dutch artists working during Saftleven’s time. Seventeenth-century Netherlandish artists typically favored a waffle or ripple style molding frame. These darkly painted wooden frames that simulated ebony are decorated with several rows carved in a zigzag design, and often have a reverse ogee profile.  A few months ago, the DMA purchased a period Dutch frame that has all of these design elements from a Parisian dealer. Now that Saftleven’s College of Animals is back from the conservator and has an appropriate frame, it is once again on view in the European galleries for everyone to enjoy!

The simple gilt frame that formerly surrounded Cornelis Saftleven’s “College of Animals,” n.d., oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Karl and Esther Hoblitzelle Collection, gift of the Hoblitzelle Foundation, 1987.32

Cornelis Saftleven, College of Animals with its period seventeenth-century waffle-style Dutch frame.

Detail of College of Animals’ new frame

Martha MacLeod is the Curatorial Administrative Assistant to the European and American Art departments.

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


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