‘Do It Up

Who doesn’t love visiting the salon to relax, recharge, gossip, and get a fresh new ‘do? And all of that pampering couldn’t happen without your trusty hairstylist. Since today is Hairstylist Appreciation Day, let’s check out what hair-raising inspiration the DMA’s collection has to offer.

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Isaac Soyer, Art Beauty Shoppe, 1934, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Public Works of Art Project

It’s no surprise that women back in the 1930s enjoyed being pampered at the salon too, though their pampering may have required a bit more work. Case in point: notice the guest in the green dress with the strange contraption on her head—she’s getting a perm with an early permanent wave machine. Oh the things we do in the name of beauty!

William Wetmore Story, Semiramis, designed 1872, carved 1873, marble, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Morynne and Robert E. Motley in memory of Robert Earl Motley, Jr., 1942-1998

William Wetmore Story, Semiramis, designed 1872, carved 1873, marble, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Morynne and Robert E. Motley in memory of Robert Earl Motley, Jr., 1942-1998

According to myth, Semiramis murdered her husband so that she could become the sole ruler of Assyria. A lady this fierce certainly requires the appropriately coiffed hair to match. Her tight curls are bound down her back and set off with a lovely crown, just to remind everyone exactly who’s in charge.

Charles Willson Peale, Rachel Leeds Kerr, 1790, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Pauline Allen Gill Foundation

Charles Willson Peale, Rachel Leeds Kerr, 1790, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Pauline Allen Gill Foundation

By the late 18th century, hair was teased to towering heights. Styles would be elaborately arranged by hairdressers and maintained for weeks by sleeping in less than comfortable positions with hair wrapped in handkerchiefs. Day dress required the proper covering of the head, but for evening the intricately crafted style was put proudly on display. If size does matter, we can only imagine what talents Mrs. Kerr’s hairdresser employed under her cap.

Stop by the DMA the next time you’re in need of a little hairstyle inspiration and see what your stylist can dream up!

Sarah Coffey is Assistant to the Chair of Learning Initiatives at the DMA.


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