Posts Tagged 'European Art'

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.

DMA Athletes in Training

One of my favorite parts of my job is that I get to spend one morning every month talking with our fantastic Gallery Attendants about works in the collection. So far, we have discussed European art, shared Personal Responses to works in the collection, written Facebook profiles for photos in the Cindy Sherman exhibition, and compared three vastly different works in our American collection. Last week, we spent time in The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece: Masterworks from the British Museum.

After looking at the discus thrower, the Gallery Attendants were asked to divide into teams of two. Each team had to select a sport and strike a pose that epitomizes an athlete participating in that sport. The rest of us had to guess which sporting event they were re-creating. Their poses were creative, clever, and funny, and we couldn’t resist sharing them with you!

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Shannon Karol is the Manager of Docent and Teacher Programs at the DMA.

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.

Picture This

For many artists a picture was not finished when the paint had dried and the varnish was applied. The culminating step was framing the artwork. Only then was the project complete. Traditionally the artist had many options. He could choose a stock frame from a local cabinetmaker, or make a thoughtful selection from a skilled framer. Artists often possessed such a keen interest to frame a painting in a manner that perfectly complemented it that they designed their own.

The 18th-century British portrait painter George Romney (1734-1802) routinely joined forces with his preferred London framer William Saunders to produce frames of the artist’s design. Frame historians have studied Saunders’ detailed ledgers that record many of these collaborations. Romney’s decorative concepts coupled with Saunders carving expertise resulted in several exquisite frames. Regrettably, as a painting changed hands the new owner would often reframe it to suit prevailing tastes or to match the room where the artwork hung.

This may have been the fate of the original frame that once surrounded Romney’s Young Man with a Flute, which is now on view in the DMA’s European Galleries. Until recently, a simple wooden frame adorned with a gilt sight edge (the part of the frame closest to the canvas) surrounded the painting. That frame was more in keeping with the sparse ones typically used by artists working in colonial America.

George Romney, Young Man with a Flute, late 1760s in its simple wooden frame

Wishing to restore the painting to Romney’s well-documented vision for his completed works, the Museum recently purchased a frame from a London dealer with an expertise in the artist’s designs. Now a “Romney Style” frame surrounds the painting. It is a faithful reproduction of the artist’s 18th-century original. The archetype became synonymous with the painter thus earning its eponymous name.

Young Man with a Flute surrounded by its “Romney Style” frame

The approximately four-inch-wide burnished gilt neoclassical frame draws the viewer’s eye into the portrait. Its decorative elements include a rope-twist back molding, superbly carved gadrooning that traverses the circumference on the outside rim, a plain frieze, a small bead course, and a delicately reeded sight edge. The reproduction “Romney Style” frame harmonizes with the painting in a manner unrivaled by its wooden unornamented predecessor.

Compared to Romney, there are scant extant records of the frame choices made by the 19th-century artist Paul Signac (1863-1935). Last year, when the DMA acquired the French artist’s Comblat-le-Château, Le pré, it had a Régence Style frame that was popular very early in the 18th century.

Second from the right, Paul Signac’s Comblat-le-Château, Le Pré in its Régence style frame.

Its decorative components included a course of cross-hatching and punch work covering the entire frame. A fussy pattern of shells, fans, palmettes, C-scrolls, and foliage ornamented the center rails and corners, while a linen liner at the sight edge completed the overall design scheme. Although a lovely frame, it is not the prototypical choice made by a post-impressionist artist who worked in the wake of the pioneering painter Edgar Degas (1834-1917). Not only was Degas enormously influential to art history but he also revolutionized frame design. In fact, he believed that it was an artist’s duty to see his pictures properly framed. Earlier this year, the DMA heeded Degas’s mandate and purchased a new frame for its Signac.

Comblat-le-Château, Le Pré with its Degas style frame.

The picture’s new frame is a reproduction based on one of Degas’s most inventive designs. It features a lightly rounded profile embellished with rows of thin parallel grooves. The frame’s roundedness and fine fluting echo Degas’s “cockscomb” pattern, which he softly gilded but rarely burnished. Because of its shape, some call this format a “cushion” molding. The frame’s innovative streamlined repetitive forms do not compete with Signac’s lovely painting; rather their simplicity harmonizes with the picture to enhance it. While these before-and-after photographs illustrate the difference a frame can make, they pale when compared to seeing firsthand each striking painting now with its stylistically appropriate frame. On your next visit to the DMA, come view these superb frames and the paintings they surround.

Martha MacLeod is the Curatorial Administrative Assistant in the European and American Art Department at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Are you ready for some Art?

It’s no secret that Super Bowl hysteria is sweeping the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. On February 6, people from around the nation will be gathering in Arlington to watch the Steelers take on the Packers. But what are some of the best things to do in Dallas leading up to the Super Bowl? Below is a Dallas Museum of Art checklist for a super week for the sports fan and art critic in you. How many will you do?

Big New Field: Artist in the Cowboys Stadium Art Program

  1. Big New Field: Artists in the Cowboys Stadium Art Program is an exhibition of work by the artists featured in the Cowboys Stadium Art Program. While exploring the exhibition, try to figure out which artist’s work from the Cowboys Stadium belongs to the work at the DMA. Pick up Cowboys Stadium: Architecture, Art, Entertainment in the Twenty-First Century from the Museum Store if you need some help.
  2. See the former head coach of the 2006 World Champion Indianapolis Colts Tony Dungy and his wife, Lauren, on Saturday, February 5, at 3:00 p.m., part of Arts & Letters Live BooksmART. They will discuss their new children’s book You Can Be a Friend and you can stick around to meet the Dungys after this free event. Be sure to reserve your seats at https://www.tickets.DallasMuseumofArt.org/public/ or call 214-922-1818.
  3. Have you ever wanted to meet a room full of former NFL players? On Saturday, February 5, the NFL Players Association will hold the annual Jazz Brunch and Art Auction Smocks & Jocks in the Dallas Museum of Art’s Atrium at 10:30 a.m. Mingle with former and current NFL players while discovering their artistic talents. For more information on the event, click here.
  4. Explore the Center for Creative Connections and soak up some inspiration before you stop by the Art Studio to create your own work of art, maybe even a special football-inspired trophy sculpture.
  5. If you are looking for a break from football, travel to Europe without leaving the Museum through a bite-sized tour of four recent acquisitions in our new European galleries.

Discovering a Romney

You might have heard about the recent discovery of a George Romney painting in the Museum’s collections. Olivier Meslay, Senior Curator of European and American Art and The Barbara Thomas Lemmon Curator of European Art at the DMA, shared the story about the discovery with us last month. You can visit the painting in person in the European Galleries on Level 2. To read more about George Romney and Young Man with a Flute, click here.

Form/Unformed: Building a Collection of Modern and Contemporary Design at the DMA

As the curator of decorative arts and design for the DMA, I oversee a collection of nearly 8,000 works of American and European art. From 17th-century ceramic vases to 20th-century plastic chairs, these holdings are among the Museum’s most expansive and diverse. One aspect of this collection is a growing number of modern and contemporary international design objects, a selection of which has recently been installed in an exhibition in the Museum’s Tower Gallery, Form/Unformed: Design from 1960 to Present. In this installation, we showcase, for the first time, a perspective upon design of the last fifty years as seen through the lens of the DMA’s collections.

Zaha Hadid's coffee and tea service set.

Although the DMA began acquiring modern design of the 20th century nearly two decades ago, it has only been in recent years that opportunities to collect contemporary design have been taken, resulting in a host of new acquisitions, such as a tea service and bench by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid and a witty assemblage of stuffed animals as a chair by the Brazilian design team of the Campana brothers. Many of the objects reflect a logical continuum with the Museum’s historic decorative arts works–whether by function as seating and tableware, or most plainly as aesthetic creations inspired by the era and cultural milieu in which they were fashioned. Even so, a few works in the exhibition, such as Giovanni Corvaja’s “The Golden Fleece” ring, reveal a new collecting interest within the department, that of jewelry. Just this year, over a dozen exceptional examples entered the collection, with yet more growth anticipated in the coming years. Such decisions to expand collecting areas are not made lightly, as resources must be carefully considered and such “new” areas of interest must be reviewed for their logical connections to the DMA’s other collections (in this instance, ancient Greek and pre-Columbian jewelry).

Robert J. King's Celestial Centerpiece.

Our new jewelry collecting efforts have been exciting, and as we continue to add new works in this area (and in other arenas of design), you will see additions to this exhibition and the Museum’s galleries–so keep a watchful eye!

Kevin W. Tucker is the The Margot B. Perot Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Re-imagining and Re-installing

 

The DMA exhibitions department spends much of its time planning, organizing, and fine-tuning any given exhibition. And ironically, the installation process marks the beginning of the end of our efforts. On the Museum’s second floor, our department is now working to complete the massive reinstallation of the  European galleries, which host some of the most well known and celebrated works of art in the DMA’s collections. Alongside curators Olivier Meslay and Heather MacDonald,  the exhibition designer, preparators, registrars, and carpenters have come together to re-introduce this selection of masterpieces to DMA visitors.

 

During “install,” the exhibitions department ensures that the careful removal of objects, new construction (such as platforms, walls, and pedestals), and re-installation of the artwork all run according to plan. Close attention to the condition of the galleries and the creation of hospitable environments for the works — and visitors — come into play.

 

For example, the sculptural grouping found off the Level 2 courtyard requires proper window tinting before the works can reach their “final destination.” Anyone will agree that this precaution was worth the wait when caught between Brancusi or Hepworth’s monochromatic contours and Matisse or Kandisnsky’s vibrant polychrome canvases. When filtered properly, the same light that can damage art now works in tandem with it, persuading us to step back and experience the “dance” between these gleaming three-dimensional whites and the vivid impressionist brushwork.


 

 
We hope you’ll come see for yourself on your next visit to the DMA.
Aja Martin is the Exhibitions Administrative Assistant at the Dallas Museum of Art.
 
 

 

Celebrating the Silver: The Reves Collection at Twenty-Five

We just celebrated the silver anniversary of the Wendy and Emery Reves Collection and ever since its opening twenty-five years ago, it has been one of our most visited galleries. Featuring more than 1,400 European artworks and decorative objects, including masterpieces by Renoir, Manet, Degas, and Pissarro, this remarkable gift from the Wendy & Emery Reves Foundation, Inc. on behalf of Wendy’s late husband, Emery, transformed the Museum’s collection of late 19th- and early 20th-century European art and European decorative art.

What’s also amazing is that visitors see this collection in a 16,500-square-foot wing made specifically for it.  Built in 1985, this is not the run-of-the mill gallery space. These rooms are a faithful reproduction of the couple’s villa in the South of France. Named La Pausa, it was built in 1927  for that ultimate fashionista Coco Chanel, who directed its design. For example, the patio and the hall were built specifically to remind “Mademoiselle” of the Romanesque convent outside Paris where she boarded as a child. Many of the furnishings in the Museum’s Reves wing, including a chair in the living room, were part of Chanel’s original décor of the villa.

DMA architect Edward Larrabee Barnes meticulously re-created the library, dining room, salon, bedroom, hall, patio, and central courtyard from this  luxurious—and historically fascinating—Mediterranean retreat.

On this silver anniversary here’s a look back:

Today, visitors to the Wendy and Emery Reves Collection can access a DMA smARTphone tour of highlights from the collection. On it, Wendy Reves shares memories of life at Villa La Pausa and of her and her husband’s passion for collecting art.

Martha MacLeod is the European and American Art Curatorial Administrative Assistant at the Dallas Museum of Art.

A Curator’s Best Days

The best days in a curator’s professional life are often the days spent in the conservation lab. That’s where we get to spend quality time with works of art and talk to conservators, the fantastically knowledgeable people who can look through a microscope or infrared scope and tell you the life history of an object. I was lucky enough to spend several hours in the painting conservation lab of the Midwestern Art Conservation Center (MACC), a private conservation center housed at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA). I was there to confer with conservator David Marquis just before he begins cleaning an important painting in the DMA’s collections, Paul Gauguin’s Under the Pandanus, also known by its Maori title I Raro Te Oviri.

Gauguin painted Under the Pandanus in 1891, a few months after he arrived in Tahiti for the first time.  Sometime later, possibly the next year, he painted a second version of the composition, and that picture is now in the collection of the MIA. When I got to the MACC lab, they had brought both paintings to the lab and removed them from their frames so that we could do a thorough comparison. Ours is on the right, the MIA version on the left.

Last year we began to look closely at the condition of our painting, and earlier this summer we sent our painting to the MACC for technical analysis. Once the two versions of the painting were placed side by side, the differences become more and more obvious . . . and intriguing.

Though the technical study had just begun, David Marquis immediately pointed out how dirty the surface of the DMA canvas was, and how discolored the old layer of varnish had become. This yellowed varnish layer and surface layer of grime radically changed the appearance of the painting. MIA Associate Curator of Paintings, Sue Canterbury, described it as being like looking at the painting through a double-amber filter—not exactly what Gauguin had intended! The MIA version, which was cleaned within the last ten years, gives us a much better sense of what our painting must have looked like when it was first completed.

Once we decided to take off these two “amber filters,” David Marquis began by making “cleaning windows,” that is, cleaning small areas of the canvas. This is the first window he opened, in an area of the horizon near the right edge of the painting.

The results are pretty amazing! The white surf is actually so much brighter and cooler in tone than it appears in the dirty areas. Now that he knew what the cleaning might reveal, David opened some windows in other areas. When I got to the lab to take a look, several areas of the canvas had been cleaned, revealing a whole new palette of colors.

Once David’s cleaning of the varnish and grime is complete later this summer, we’ll have a much better sense of the choices Gauguin made while he was working on our painting, as well as how the painting has changed over time and the extent of work done by earlier conservators. We’re just at the beginning of this important project, so stay tuned for future updates about the results of our study of Under the Pandanus, and look for it to be back in the galleries, and looking better than ever, next year.

Heather MacDonald is The Lillian and James H. Clark Associate Curator of European Art at the DMA.


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