Posts Tagged 'painting'

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!

Five, Six, Seven, Eight

Chagall: Beyond Color opens on Sunday, February 17, and the highlight of the exhibition is sure to be the costumes designed by Chagall in 1942 for the production of the ballet Aleko. The ballet’s première took place in September 1942 in Mexico City, followed by the Ballet Theatre of New York production, and the costumes have not been seen in the U.S. since. Recently, DMA staff whipped out their jazz hands and did their best mannequin impersonations to assist in the installation of the Aleko costumes.

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Facing Off

Our exhibition Face to Face: International Art at the DMA is composed of never before seen pairs of objects drawn straight from the Museum’s collection. They are joined across cultures, great distances, and centuries of time to present an entirely new way to experience and celebrate a collection that is thrillingly diverse and over one hundred years in the making.

David Smith’s Cubi XVII and Aristide Maillol’s Flora

Organizing Face to Face required the collaboration of every member of our curatorial staff. Dr. Anne Bromberg, our curator of Ancient and Asian Art, spearheaded its sprawling course, spending weeks and weeks stalking the galleries, storage areas, and even her own colleagues to negotiate across departmental divides and ensure that what came to fruition was groundbreaking.

The result is a rare chance to see some of our “greatest hits” in lively and entirely new contexts. Visitors are welcome to speculate for themselves upon the many ways paired works might be related. I expect there are no right or wrong answers to these investigations, and that the discoveries one can have touring Face to Face are essentially limitless.

Peruvian Panel and Ellsworth Kelly’s Sanary

This is the first pair to welcome you to the exhibition. The composition of both works relied upon geometry and the stunning experience of pure color. The ceremonial textile from the Huari culture of Peru is beautifully composed of hundreds of blue and yellow macaw feathers—the yellow offering soft complement to the naturally iridescent shimmering of the blue.

Sanary, by American artist Ellsworth Kelly, presents a more complex pattern created from recycled paintings. No two colored squares repeat side by side, and like the feather panel, their summation elicits an explosive though carefully controlled punch of pure color. Their paired visual impact must be seen to be believed.

Egyptian mummy mask and Amedeo Modigliani’s Portrait of a Young Woman

Of all the pairings, Dr. Bromberg has said this one raised the most eyebrows among her colleagues, but after placing them side by side for the first time during installation, it became clear that though derived from wholly different civilizations and made for completely different purposes, they were easily relatable as unique expressions of the very human desire to immortalize beauty through portraiture.

Male figure from Nigeria and Naum Gabo’s Constructed Head No. 2

There’s much to be learned—things you may never have noticed before until you’re faced with this unique installation. This pair in particular enables audiences to reflect upon decisions the artists made in depicting their subjects abstractly. One might spend hours ruminating over their own visceral reactions to their striking features.

Eugène Delacroix’s Portrait of a Woman in a Blue Turban and Standing femail figure from the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Our Exhibition Design Coordinator, Jessica Harden, worked closely with Dr. Bromberg to create specific lighting, color, and spatial treatments for every pair in Face to Face. Its dynamic installation highlights the need to take one’s time in the exhibition. Here each artwork can be appreciated more intimately on its own terms.

This is particularly true with the pairing of Eugène Delacroix’s Portrait of a Woman in a Blue Turban and the standing female figure from the Luba peoples of Africa. Lengthy meditations over the artists distinct but relatable choices in depicting their subject’s tranquil and quintessentially feminine beauty are highly encouraged.

An entire case in Face to Face is dedicated to things that sparkle! And here it’s true that not all that glitters is literally gold. The DMA maintains a strong collection of decorative, functional, and ceremonial objects fashioned from precious materials by a variety of cultures for an even greater variety of reasons.

Shiva Nataraja from India and The Dharmapala Vajrabhairava from Tibet

Face to Face’s broad representation (albeit in a small space) of the DMA’s expansive, internationally renowned collection is inspiring. The exhibition not only draws our attention to the mysterious nature of creating and studying art but also to that lesser realized art form of building a collection.

While exploring any museum, it’s easy to forget that a collection is built by people, and at the DMA these people have for over a century now nursed a vision that not only tells the history of art but also the story of our great museum.

Auriel Garza is the Curatorial Assistant for Ancient Art, Non-Western Art, and Decorative Arts & Design at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Two Debuts

Our exhibition, Concentrations 54: Matt Connors and Fergus Feehily, opens soon (Sunday, April 3 to be exact). I’ve been lucky enough to work on this show from start to finish with Jeffrey Grove, The Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art. Each artist has their own dedicated space in the Marguerite and Robert Hoffman Galleries. The first museum exhibition for both artists, we worked closely with them to decide the works presented as well as the logistics of each installation. Berlin-based Irish artist Fergus Feehily is integrating three objects from the DMA’s collection into his installation: a bead, a dressing cabinet, and an Indian miniature. New York artist Matt Connors, on the other hand, is installing 10 completely new paintings (finished very recently, as a matter of fact) and also a work of his that we acquired in last year Soul Error (Vertical), 2010.

We’re really excited to have both artists in town for the installation and opening events. See for yourself…

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On March 31, 2011 at 7:30 pm, Jeffrey will join both artists for a discussion of their work. Hope to see you there!

Erin Murphy is the Curatorial Administrative Assistant for Contemporary Art at the Dallas Museum of Art

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.

Painting by Numbers

Our new installation Re-Seeing the Contemporary displays more than fifty works of the art from the DMA’s captivating contemporary collection. Some of the artists on view range from familiar abstract expressionists to lesser known artists at work today. As 2010 comes to a close, we thought it might be fun to take another look at the exhibition, re-seeing the exhibition into our own top ten list of interesting categories.

1. Paintings: 29

The majority of artworks in the exhibition are paintings.

Jackson Pollock, Cathedral, 1947 Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Bernard

 

Pollock changed the definition of painting—instead of painting on the wall or an easel, he laid the canvas on the floor and applied paint to it from above through pouring and dripping.

2. Sculptures off the wall: 9

Larry Bell, The Cube of the Iceberg II, 1975 Dallas Museum of Art, anonymous gift in memory of J. O. Lambert, Jr.

Although not your typical figurative sculpture, this work has a reflective quality that involves the viewer.

3. Sculptures on the wall: 5

Alan Saret, Deep Forest Green Dispersion, 1969 Dallas Museum of Art, gift of John Weber

Though sculptures are typically displayed using a base or plinth, this work also fits the category because of its three-dimensionality. Since the piece is made out of wire and hangs off of one nail, it must be reshaped with each installation, almost becoming a living thing like the plants or moss it resembles.

4. Collages: 3

Jess, Arkadia's Last Resort; or, Fete Champetre Up Mnemosyne Creek, 1976 Dallas Museum of Art, General Acquisitions Fund

Jess took images from various sources such as jigsaw puzzles, art books, advertisements, and store catalogues and combined them to create a collage in the shape of a landscape.

5. Works never shown before: 6

Jack Whitten, Slip Zone, 1971 The Rachofsky Collection and the Dallas Museum of Art through the DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund

A new acquisition that has not yet been on view, Slip Zone adds to the DMA’s collection of postwar abstract art. Whitten created the unique design by pulling various objects across the wet painted surface.

6. Works by women artists: 5

A few of the female artists are represented in the exhibition:

Jackie Ferrara, A213 Symik, 1982 Dallas Museum of Art, anonymous gift

Susie Rosmarin, Gingham, 1998 Dallas Museum of art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Bryant M. Hanley, Jr., in honor of Charles Wylie, The Lupe Murchison Curator of Contemporary Art

Anne Truitt, Come Unto These Yellow Sands II, 1979 Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Shonny and Hal Joseph (St. Louis, Missouri) in honor of Cindy and Armond Schwartz

7. Works by Texas artists: 2

Christian Schumann, Nomads, 1998-1999 Dallas Museum of Art, Texas Artists Fund

Christian Schumann graduated from Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, located just blocks away from the DMA.

8. Works with people: 11

Wallace Berman, Untitled, 1964 Dallas Museum of Art, General Acquisitions Fund

At first glance, this collage may appear to be a repetition of the same picture. Upon further inspection, though, you can see that each hand holds a transistor radio, which in turn frames images of people, animals, and objects.

9. Works with text: 14

Glenn Ligon, Untitled, 2002 Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund

Inclusion of text is a modern development which Ligon often uses in his art. As the text progresses, it becomes more and more unclear.

10. Works with hot pink: 3

Pink is the color of happiness and works including hot pink just make us smile.

Charline von Heyl, Untitled (3/00), III, 2000 Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Kathleen and Roland Augustine in honor of Robert Hoffman

This painting, a recent museum acquisition, recalls a tropical rainforest inhabited by abstracted animal-like forms. The shocking combination of colors—yellow, green, turquoise, and hot pink—draw your attention to the composition.

Over the holidays we hope you will visit the DMA to discover the countless connections you can make with Re-Seeing the Contemporary and with the larger DMA collection.

Haley Berkman is the McDermott  Curatorial Intern for Contemporary Art and Sarah Vitek is the McDermott Education Intern for Adult Programming 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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