Archive for the 'Exhibitions' Category

What Our Staff Is Viewing

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

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Photography by Adam Gingrich, DMA Digital Media Specialist.

 

Highlights of Light

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

 

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Sculpture for the Body – Art Smith at the DMA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Free Summer Fun

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

How Many Words Are There for “Light”

How many words can you think of that describe light? Your list can include characteristics, opposite words, and metaphors for the concept of light.

A Panel Depicting the Tuba Tree, with the 99 Names of God on its Leaves, c. 1900, watercolor on paper, The James and Ana Melikian Collection

A Panel Depicting the Tuba Tree, with the 99 Names of God on its Leaves, c. 1900, watercolor on paper, The James and Ana Melikian Collection

The exhibition Nur: Light in Art and Science from the Islamic World explores the concept of light and the many ways it is captured, studied, and featured in works of art and scientific objects from Islamic culture (nur is the Arabic word for “light”). A work of art from the exhibition titled A Panel Depicting the Tuba Tree, with the 99 Names of God on Its Leaves is currently on view in the Center for Creative Connections (C3). This painting illustrates the concept that there can be many meanings associated with a single idea. Similarly, visitors are invited to add their ideas to a growing collection of light-related words in the accompanying community installation.

Leave your ideas on what light is through the run of the exhibition, which closes on June 29.

Melissa Nelson Gonzales is the C3 Gallery Manager at the DMA.

Smartphone Learning Lab

As part of our partnership with our neighbor Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, DMA educators co-teach Learning Lab, a class for seniors in the visual arts cluster. This group of bright and talented young artists walks down Flora Street to the Museum about fifty times during the academic year. Besides spending quality time with, discussing, and responding to works of art in the DMA’s collection and special exhibitions, this year the students also had the opportunity to meet artists Jim Hodges and Stephen Lapthisophon and ask them questions about their DMA exhibitions.

For their final project, pairs of students capped off a great year of projects and discussions by creating smartphone stops for a work of art of their choosing in the exhibition Never Enough: Recent Acquisitions of Contemporary Art. They were given the option of producing a three-minute audio recording or video for their chosen work. They were asked to design their audio or video clip to either facilitate a visitor’s understanding through contextual information about the artist and his/her work, or to provide visitors with an alternative perspective or interpretation through which to view the work. They were also encouraged to exercise their creativity.

All of the pairs’ submissions were fantastic. Below are two smartphone stops created by the students:

This smartphone stop is a video inspired by Will Benedict’s 1 800 Bad Drug.

Will Benedict, 1 800 Bad Drug, 2013, gouache on board and canvas, aluminum frame with glass, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund

Will Benedict, 1 800 Bad Drug, 2013, gouache on board and canvas, aluminum frame with glass, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund, (c) Will Benedict

This smartphone stop is an audio clip related to Sara Cwynar’s Corinthian Temple (Plastic Cups).

Sara Cwynar, Corinthian Temple (Plastic Cups), 2012, chromogenic print, mounted on Dibond, framed, Dallas Museum of Art, Susan Mead Contemporary Art Fund

Sara Cwynar, Corinthian Temple (Plastic Cups), 2012, chromogenic print, mounted on Dibond, Dallas Museum of Art, Susan Mead Contemporary Art Fund, (c) Sara Cwnar

Thanks to the BTWHSPVA Learning Lab students for a wonderful year and congratulations on graduation!

Andrea Severin Goins is the Interpretation Manager at the DMA.

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

The Nur Dialogue Experience

As the senior advisor for Islamic art at the DMA, my responsibilities include engaging with institutions worldwide to create dialogue on behalf of the Museum. The most recent project involved curating the exhibition Nur: Light in Art and Science from the Islamic World, which itself required many complex negotiations! The project started in Spain four years ago, when I was asked by the Fundación Focus-Abengoa in Seville to develop their first Islamic art exhibition. Seville is no stranger to Islamic history. Almost 800 years of Islamic rule in Spain resulted in a strong presence of Islamic culture, which survived beyond 1492, when Muslims lost Spain to Christian forces. As an Islamic art exhibition in Seville, Nur was particularly significant, being paradoxically a first of its kind, yet, naturally at home. In Dallas, the Nur exhibition holds another great significance, as it is the first major exhibition of Islamic art in the 111-year history of the DMA. So, there is a great deal to learn about Islamic culture. But first of all, there is a great deal to “unlearn.” For this reason, the exhibition journey starts with a white entrance space, which aims to give the visitor a sensation of light, and is also a white slate, which prepares us to see for the first time. White light holds the full spectrum of colors.
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The Nur exhibition is at the heart of the cultural exchange venture at the DMA. With Nur, the dialogue starts with the silence of a white space, suggesting that listening is key in any dialogue. There is dialogue between the objects themselves as they link different cultures living within one culture. An example of this is a Torah case from 16th-century Syria, which is made of copper and decorated in the typical Islamic style of silver inlaid arabesques.

There is a strong connection between these objects that come from places as far apart as Spain and Asia, brought together in a configuration that creates a dialogue with the visitor. Islamic art objects are often small and they require us to humbly come close and look. They are filled with details. In the exhibition space, these details are brought to the fore by virtual screens (I prefer to call them virtual screens rather than videos!), which create other planes. They are positioned in such a way in the exhibition space so as not to interfere with the objects, but they complement the display, attract attention to some of the key aspects within the objects, and invite us to look at the objects again and again. They reveal the immense world within, sometimes, the tiniest of objects. And sight becomes insight.

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The exhibition journey reflects content and container being one; without props, the exhibition provides an experience of a different way of seeing the world. Through aspects such as reflection and attention to minute detail, a harmonious musicality is created. The exhibition concepts and design were shaped closely together to create an experience of a multilayered reality. For example, this is suggested by the openings in the walls between sections that allow us a glimpse into the next space as we make an enjoyable journey of discovery through the exhibition. Passing one of these openings, we sense the presence of another world, suggesting that what see is only part of the whole.
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Sabiha Al Khemir is the senior advisor for Islamic art at the DMA.

Installing Light

Nur: Light in Art and Science from the Islamic World is opening this weekend and the DMA is the only venue outside of Europe to host this exhibition featuring rarely seen objects from around the world. We’ve been preparing for weeks for Sunday’s opening, as you can see in the photos below,

Learn more about the exhibition and the artistic techniques used to enhance the effect of light found in the objects on display in Nur from the DMA’s senior advisor for Islamic art, Dr. Sabiha Al Khemir. And on Thursday, April 3, your lecture ticket will also include admission to Nur: Light in Art and Science from the Islamic World!

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

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.


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