The Two Käthes

Join us for Late Night this Friday when we will host artist Käthe Kollwitz of the feminist activist art collective the Guerrilla Girls as part of a celebration of women artists featured in Visions of America. For more than thirty years, women artists from across the country have donned gorilla masks and joined the ranks of the Guerrilla Girls to produce public art campaigns that raise awareness about gender and ethnic discrimination in the art world and beyond. Having decided early on that the members of the Guerrilla Girls would remain anonymous, they took this opportunity to shine some limelight on great women artists of the past by assuming the names of pioneers like Käthe Kollwitz, Frida Kahlo, and Zubeida Agha.

Guerrilla Girls at the Abrons Art Center, 2015

In an interview for the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art Oral History Program, Käthe explained the origin of their pseudonyms.

“Eventually we realized that we needed individual names within the Guerrilla Girls.  When we went places in a group or in pairs, we needed to be individuals in some way.  So this idea came up to have dead women artists as pseudonyms, and it was a useful idea because art historians were re-finding and representing the work of a lot of women artists from history.  Most of the pseudonyms that people took were artists they’d never heard of before they started and only discovered when they read up on women artists, looking for a name.”

Käthe’s own namesake, Käthe Kollwitz (1867–1945), was a German printmaker and sculptor who also addressed social injustice in her work. She also happens to be well represented in the DMA’s collection

Kollwitz’s work is at times touching and heart-wrenching with intimate portraits of mothers with their children as well as genre scenes depicting the plight of the urban poor. Her subjects are often gaunt figures whose shadowy eyes and pained poses speak volumes about the dire circumstances under which they lived. Having endured multiple personal tragedies and both world wars, she was an artist who did not shy away from showing the realities of war, poverty, and loss.

Käthe Kollwitz, Revolt (Sturm), 1897, Etching, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts, The Alfred and Juanita Bromberg Collection, bequest of Juanita K. Bromberg, 2000.192.FA

Remarking on how she arrived at the pseudonym Käthe Kollwitz, the artist said, “It’s very personal for everybody.  Käthe Kollwitz is not my all-time favorite artist, but she’s a great role model.  She was an activist as well as an artist.  She didn’t believe in the expensive, fancy art system.  She did a lot of cheap prints that she gave and sold very cheaply.  She did a lot of work about working people, about women and children, even work about sex.  She was a fierce woman artist.”

Over 70 years after Kollwitz’s death the Guerrilla Girls are continuing the practice of using art to raise awareness. Reflecting on their own 30 year legacy, Käthe will speak about favorite projects and how the group has approached activism in their work. For more information about this and other Late Night programs, visit DMA.org.

Jessie Frazier is Manager of Adult Programming at the DMA

How to Install a Robert Smithson

A new rotation of artworks was recently installed in the Barrel Vault, our main contemporary art space. Included in this new installation are masterpieces by Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, and Hans Hofmann, as well as several newly acquired artworks. One of the highlights of the gallery is Robert Smithson’s Mirrors and Shelly Sand. The work is composed of approximately three tons of sand and 50 mirrors (glued back-to-back in pairs of two) lined up in a row, creating the illusion of infinity when you gaze into them. This engaging piece invites the viewer in and encourages interaction (but just of the mental variety—please remember not to touch!).

The piece becomes even more interesting when you know the process required to install it. It takes a lot of work and skill to transform the 125 buckets of sand and two crates of mirrors into the finished work of art. There are specific instructions from the artist on how the piece should be installed, but there will always be variances due to the nature of the materials. Thankfully for us, one of our Senior Preparators, Mary Nicolett, has installed the Smithson eight times and is a pro.

First our crew constructs a massive tent made of plastic. This keeps all of the sand contained and ensures that other artworks in the area are protected. On installation day, our stellar team of preparators (professional art handlers) put on their protective gear and prepare to get dirty. After the Registrar (me!) completes a condition report on all the mirrors, they are lined up based on the artist’s specifications and a small pile of sand is poured over them to keep them in place. Once all of the mirrors are in place, the real fun begins. Each preparator grabs a bucket of sand and begins pouring. Once all the buckets are empty, Nicolett begins smoothing the sand into the appropriate shape. At the end of the day, the dusty crew exits the tent to let the dust settle. The next day, the tent is removed and the finishing touches to the sand are completed.

Installation works like Mirrors and Shelly Sand allow our prep team to flex their creative muscles. While we do follow the instructions provided by the artist, the preparators are the ones who physically create the artwork as you see it. A good prep team is vital to any art institution as they are the ones who know the intricacies of a piece and how to safely install it. Thankfully for us, we have one of the best!

 

Katie Province is the Assistant Registrar for Collections and Exhibitions at the DMA.

Second Thursdays with a Twist

Does your typical Thursday night have the dance moves of Michael Jackson, a “potions” class for adults, a tour about beautiful backsides, live covers of the best 80s music, and storm troopers? Would you like it to? If your answer is yes, then you’re going to love our new line-up for Second Thursdays with a Twist!

All year round, every Second Thursday of the month, we are looking at our collection with a pop culture twist. If this program sounds familiar, it’s because this program is The Artist Formerly Known as Off the Wall. We thought we would change up the name, but keep the same day, same time and same fun! We are kicking off the new name and new season of themes this Thursday with Don’t You Forget About Me. The night will have all the 1980’s nostalgia you can handle, a photo booth, a Ferris Bueller themed tour and more.

We hope you all will come out and enjoy Second Thursdays with a Twist, we had so much fun coming up with ideas for these themes and we hope that you will have even more fun experiencing them!

August 10: Don’t You Forget About Me

Geoff Winningham, High School Prom, negative 1973, print 1976, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Prestonwood National Bank, 1981.36.11

September 14: Smooth Criminal

Ralph Gibson, Untitled, 1972, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, Polaroid Foundation grant, 1977.79

October 12: Mischief Managed

Owl effigy, Arts of the Americas, 20th century, ceramic, slip, and paint, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Bywaters, 1963.179

November 9: Who Run the World?

Anna Hyatt Huntington, Joan of Arc, modeled, 1910; cast c. 1915, bronze, Dallas Museum of Art, Kiest Memorial Fund, 1924.3

December 14: In a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Dan Flavin, alternate diagonals of March 2, 1964 (to Don Judd), March 2, 1964, daylight and cool white fluorescent tubing, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Janie C. Lee, 1976.74.A-G

January 11: Ice Ice Baby

Frederic Edwin Church, The Icebergs, 1861, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Norma and Lamar Hunt, 1979.28

Katie Cooke is Manager of Adult Programming at the DMA

 

 

 

Warhol and Monroe, Inked Immortal

In August 62 I started doing silkscreens. I wanted something stronger that gave more of an assembly line effect. With silkscreening you pick a photograph, blow it up, transfer it in glue onto silk, and then roll ink across it so the ink goes through the silk but not through the glue. That way you get the same image, slightly different each time. It was all so simple quick and chancy. I was thrilled with it. When Marilyn Monroe happened to die that month, I got the idea to make screens of her beautiful face the first Marilyns. – Andy Warhol (1981)

Visions of America

Andy Warhol was always interested in the morbid and he often found artistic inspiration in taboo occurrences such as Marilyn Monroe’s tragic death. He first started producing Marilyns in 1962, bringing the starlet’s likeness back to life. According to MoMA Learning, through these Marilyn works “he (Warhol) reveals her public persona as a carefully structured illusion.”  It wasn’t until 1967 however, 5 years after Monroe’s untimely departure, that the infamous print in Visions of America: Three Centuries of Prints from the National Gallery of Art came about.

Marilyn Monroe (Marilyn)

Warhol based the print on a publicity photograph by Gene Kornman for the 1953 film Niagara, as were his famous Marilyn Monroe silkscreen paintings of 1962. Now the prints are synonymous with the vixen herself, both’s popularity and intrigue as pungent as they were in the sixties.

Marilyn Monroe Photo Portrait

Publicity photograph by Gene Kornman for the 1953 film Niagara. Image from http://www.moma.org via web link

We invite you to celebrate  the birth week of Warhol by visiting Marilyn Monroe (Marilyn) in Visions of America: Three Centuries of Prints from the National Gallery of Art today. The popular print is one of a set of ten, don’t miss this opportunity to spend some time with this rare beauty.

Julie Henley is the Communications and Marketing Coordinator at the DMA. 

After Hours: Staff Art

 


Ever wanted to know more about the staff at the Dallas Museum of Art? Until November 26, After Hours: Works by DMA Staff will be on view on Level M2. The show features 60 works by 38 staff members and showcases talents from many different mediums, including video and sculpture work. DMA employees whose roles at the Museum range from gallery attendant to librarian participated in the exhibition.


David Caldwell, a Gallery Attendant Supervisor at the DMA for 5 years, created his painting Marie Madeleine En Provence Devant Un Monolithe Kubrick this year based on the story of Mary Magdalene in the South of France and the Stanley Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Caldwell has a BFA with an emphasis in Broadcast/Film from SMU. When asked how his position at the DMA inspired his artwork, Caldwell said, “My role at the DMA has inspired my paintings. As a Gallery Attendant, I learned about La Pausa [the home of Wendy and Emery Reves in the South of France], the phrase means ‘the pause.’ I found out that it refers to a French legend that Mary Magdalene fled the Holy Land a few years after the crucifixion. She and her entourage were adrift on a boat in the Mediterranean. They came to shore at what is now the French Riviera in Provence. Legend has it that Mary and her friends, on their journey inland, rested in a grove of olive trees that reminded them of home. That olive grove is said to be located on the property, called La Pausa, of Coco Chanel and then Wendy and Emery Reves. I would have never known this story had I not worked at the DMA.”


Center for Creative Connections Coordinator Kerry Butcher graduated with a BFA in Studio Arts with an emphasis in photography. Butcher entered two photographs she took during a road trip to Montana with friends in 2015. Using a gently used point and shoot film camera, Butcher said, “I had the intent of really working on refocusing my eye on capturing moments that were personal to me, something I felt I had somewhat lost touch with since graduating college.”


Burdette Katzen, a Library Assistant at the DMA for 18 years, created an oil painting titled Morning in Byzantium for the show. When speaking of her work, Katzen stated, “I especially enjoy depicting ordinary women performing typical tasks during their average days. Although there are many impressive paintings of spectacular landscapes, and colorful flowers, I believe there is great beauty to be seen in the simple things of everyday life.”

On your next trip to the DMA, stop by the exhibition and check out the works created by the staff!

Samantha Nemazie is the Exhibition Design Intern at the DMA.

 

Open Office: Exhibition Planning

It has been said that the environment we create is a reflection of our state of mind. For Skye Olson, Exhibition Designer at the DMA, this sentiment could not be more true. Her office is crisp and organized with pops of color peeking through exhibition models and paper diagrams. She is in the business of aesthetics, choosing paint, finishes, and elements that will showcase art in the best possible light. The clean lines of her office reflect the detailed approach she takes in designing exhibition spaces. Sneak a peek inside Skye’s Museum office:

skye

Grime, Dust, and Drips…oh my! A short update from the Steichen Conservation team

If you’ve walked through the Barrel Gallery recently, you might have seen some conservators crawling around. Whether on the floor or on the ladder, the monumental size of Steichen’s mural series, In Exaltation of Flowers, has required some minor acrobatics. The team recently finished the cleaning phase of the treatment process – an essential step to protect the paintings from further degradation and ensure they can be enjoyed to the full extent that their beauty merits.

Cleaning huge paintings with tiny sponges.

You may recall from the short history of the murals that was recently posted that the canvases have been rolled up for over a century. During that time they encountered water damage, dust, dirt, grime, and other indignities that can be found in a storage room. This left the paintings with a significant amount of dust and dirt on their surfaces, which dulled the colors and deadened the sheen of the paint. To remove this disfiguring accumulation, we used special non-abrasive sponges to gently dry clean the surface and reveal the surprisingly fresh surface the paintings still exhibit. In areas of drips from water damage, tiny hand-rolled cotton swabs and a gentle chelating solution were employed.

The aftermath.

After cleaning, the paintings were brighter, more even, and much closer to the appearance Steichen intended them to have. The next phase of treatment includes loss compensation, framing, and preventive measures like backing boards. We’ll describe these processes next week.

Before and after cleaning

 


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