Today we at the DMA are excited to welcome home after a “sabbatical” in Paris one of our masterpieces, van Gogh’s work on paper Café Terrace on the Place du Forum. On tour at the Musée d’Orsay, this magnificent work of art was one of only seven drawings featured in Van Gogh/Artaud: The Man Suicided by Society. This exhibition was seen by nearly 655,000 visitors over the course of four months, making it the highest-attended exhibition in Musée d’Orsay history. Now prominently and proudly on view in our special exhibition Mind’s Eye: Masterworks on Paper from David to Cézanne, Café Terrace on the Place du Forum joins other masterworks by van Gogh’s peer artists including Manet, Degas, Cézanne, and Renoir. Say “bonjour” and see it now through October 26 on a visit to Mind’s Eye.
Archive for the 'European Art' Category
Tags: Cézanne, Dallas Museum of Art, Degas, DMA, France, Manet, Musee D'Orsay, night cafe, Paris, Renoir, Vincent van Gogh
Tags: Apple Harvest, Camille Pissarro, Claude Monet, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA, Georges Seurat, Painting Conservation, Paul Signac
A long-time favorite in the DMA’s European galleries, Camille Pissarro’s Apple Harvest of 1888 has returned to view this month after a visit to the Painting Conservation Studio.
The painting, which has been at the Museum since 1955, is in very good condition, but it was brought to Chief Conservator Mark Leonard to determine whether it was in need of cleaning. He opened a small “cleaning window” along the right side of the canvas, removing the layer of protective varnish. The bright pigments revealed by this small test confirmed that the varnish had become dark and yellowed over the past half-century, masking the true colors of the painting. It needed to be removed. The painting was carefully cleaned and its original vibrant tonality has been rediscovered.
Pissarro actually made three different paintings of this subject: a group of peasants gathering apples in the shade of an apple tree. The first version dates back to 1881, when Pissarro was one of the leaders of the impressionist group, and is painted in a classic impressionist style, with open brushwork describing the dappled sunlight that falls on the figures.
The same year, Pissarro started another, larger version of the subject, but did not complete it until 1886, when he showed it at the eighth and final impressionist exhibition.
At that exhibition, Pissarro championed the participation of the young pointillist painters, Georges Seurat and Paul Signac, and Seurat showed his “manifesto painting,” A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte—1884.
Pissarro had recently adopted Seurat’s neo-impressionist method as the approach to painting that was “in harmony with our epoch” and an evolution from the older, “romantic” impressionism of artists like Monet. When he began work the next year on the DMA’s Apple Harvest, Pissarro was returning to a familiar subject, but armed with the new, “scientific” principles he had learned from Seurat.
Pissarro prepared the painting with a number of drawings, oil studies, and a full compositional watercolor, which he squared for transfer.
In one drawing for the apple tree, Pissarro carefully noted the local colors he observed in the grass while sketching in the apple orchard: “yellowish red-orange,” “green,” “violet,” and “pink.”
In the final painting, these colors were evoked optically through a flurry of carefully selected and painstakingly applied flecks and dots of pure, unmixed color.
The pointillist method was a source of ongoing internal debate for Pissarro during these years. Despite his methodical preparatory studies, Pissarro placed a very high value on freedom and improvisation in painting. In September 1888, around the time he was completing work on Apple Harvest, he wrote to his son Lucien, a fellow neo-impressionist: “I am thinking a lot here about a way of producing without the point,” he reported. “How to attain the qualities of purity, of the simplicity of the point, and the thickness, the suppleness, the liberty, the spontaneity, the freshness of sensation of our impressionist art? That’s the question; it is much on my mind, for the point is thin, without consistency, diaphanous, more monotonous than simple.”
In Apple Harvest, Pissarro went to great lengths to avoid the monotony of pointillism, and his dots are surprisingly active and diverse, fracturing and curling to define form as well as color.
Robert Herbert, one of the great 20th-century historians of impressionism, described Pissarro’s complex approach to describing the deep shadow under the apple tree at the center foreground of the painting with a myriad of colored points: “The shadow has brilliant red, intense blue, intense green as well as pink, lavender, orange, some yellow, and subdued blues and greens. The pigments were not allowed to mix much together, and preserve their individuality which, because of the high intensity, results in an abrasive vibration in our eye that cannot be resolved into one tone. In order to make the contrast still sharper, Pissarro strengthens the blue around the edges of the shadow, a reaction provoked by the proximity of the strong sunlit field.”
By February of the next year, Pissarro informed his son that he was still “searching for a way to replace the points. Up until this moment, I haven’t found what I desire; the execution doesn’t seem to me to be quick enough and doesn’t respond simultaneously enough to sensation.” Pissarro sought nothing less than translating the immediacy of his optical sensations into the solid fact of paint on a canvas. Throughout the late 1880s, he was testing the capacity of the neo-impressionists’ methods to sustain this personal artistic goal.
The first critics who saw Apple Harvest in 1889 and 1890, when it was shown at important exhibitions in Brussels and Paris, were profoundly impressed with how Pissarro managed to convey the experience of sunlight using the pointillist approach. One early critic wrote, “Truly, the canvases of M. Pissarro are today painted with the sun.” Later writers have agreed, pointing out how Pissarro “directed the light so that it appears to radiate from the depths of the scene, to activate with color everything along its path and then to issue forth in to the viewer’s space.”
How, then, does the painting’s recent cleaning alter our understanding of Apple Harvest? For many decades, the painting has appeared more yellow than Pissarro intended because of the darkened layer of varnish on its surface. This change has no doubt influenced viewers of the painting who noted the “warm” palette of the canvas, which “positively throbs with the heat of a late summer’s afternoon.” The intensely sunlit effect of the painting was, it seems, given an additional golden glow by the amber hue of the darkened varnish. But, the dazzling luminosity of Apple Harvest—its “powerful fiat lux,” in the words of one early critic—was no accident of time. It was apparent to viewers as soon as the painting left Pissarro’s easel, and now, 125 years later, the painting’s brilliant colors and lighting effects have been restored to their original, white-hot intensity.
Celebrate Camille Pissarro’s birthday on July 10 with a visit to the newly conserved work on Level 2.
Heather MacDonald is The Lillian and James H. Clark Associate Curator of European Art at the DMA.
Tags: Dallas Museum of Art, DMA, Käthe Kollwitz, Works on Paper, World War I
A new installation in the European Works on Paper Gallery contemplates the life and work of the German artist Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945). For Germans born in the latter half of the 19th century, life was in a constant state of chaos. Immigration to America was at an all-time high, and World War I would soon be on their doorstep only to be followed by the destruction of World War II. For Kollwitz, the impact of these grave events became the inspiration for her artwork.
As a graphic artist and sculptor, Kollwitz was widely popular in Europe and America throughout her long life. Kollwitz had always been drawn to representing the working classes. But it was with a cycle of six prints documenting the Weaver’s Revolt of 1844 that she achieved instant fame. The DMA owns the last two prints in the series, Revolt and End.
Together these works document the uprising of peasant workers and the resulting death and destruction. This series was so popular that Kollwitz was awarded a gold medal at the Great Berlin Exhibition of 1898, but the Prussian emperor Wilhelm II refused to award it to her, fearing her striking images would spark rebellions among the working classes. Nevertheless, it was this subject matter that would carry throughout her life’s work. She became dedicated to advocating for the lower classes and the downtrodden in society.
After the war, Kollwitz created many lithographs of women and children, such as Bread! and Hungry Children. These images were widely popular and circulated throughout the country. Kollwitz intended to draw attention to the starving working class and the impact of World War I on the nation.
These two works were reprinted nearly a decade later. During World War II, Bread! was published in the National Socialist women’s magazine, Warte, as pro-Nazi propaganda, with the forged signature of St. Frank. Kollwitz was outraged, as she was a staunch opponent of Nazism and another world war. The United States appropriated Hungry Children as a propaganda poster to encourage rationing for the war effort.
The works are currently on view in the Museum’s European Works on Paper Gallery on Level 2 and are included in the DMA’s free general admission.
Michael Hartman is the McDermott Intern for European Art at the DMA.
Tags: Central America, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA, European Art, Halloween, Jim Hodges: Give More Than You Take
Tags: Dallas Museum of Art, DMA, Giovanni Bonazza, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection
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.
Tags: Dallas Museum of Art, DMA, Erminia and the Shepherds, Free, Guillaume Guillon Lethière, New acquisition, Olivier Meslay, painting
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!
Tags: Dallas Museum of Art, dinner and a movie, DMA, DMA Friends, European Art, Free, Rewards
“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.”
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.
Tags: Alberto Giacometti, Dallas Museum of Art, Henri Matisse, Modern European Prints, Pablo Picasso, Works on Paper
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tags: Dallas Arts District, Dallas Museum of Art, Gene Scheer, Jake Heegie, Laura Claycomb, Masterpieces, Music, Nathalie Paulin, Posters of Paris: Toulouse-Lautrec and His Contemporaries, The Dallas Opera
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.
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.
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
Tags: Anne Vallayer-Coster, Childe Hassam, Dallas Museum of Art, Fourth of July, James Brooks, Jean Antoine Theodore Giroust, Piet Mondrian, Rufino Tamayo, Wassily Kandinsky, Yves Tanguy
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.
Stacey Lizotte is the Head of Adult Programming and Multimedia Services.