Archive for April, 2015

Master of Monsters

One of the annual projects for the McDermott Curatorial Intern for European Art is to develop and curate a small exhibition pulled from the DMA’s works on paper collection. Of the pieces within the European collection (which includes over 1,500 works!), I was immediately drawn to ones by old masters (artists working before 1800), like Rembrandt van Rijn, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, and Francisco de Goya. I found the work by German artist Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) to be particularly fascinating, and I chose fourteen of his prints for the exhibition Saints and Monsters: Prints by Albrecht Dürer, which focuses on Dürer’s depiction of both the religious and the monstrous.

Dürer was a prolific artist working in the Northern Renaissance who revolutionized the field of printmaking through his original iconographic models, dynamic compositions, and skill in capturing details. Today he is widely hailed as one of the greatest printmakers of all time; however, since these prints are so tiny (those included in the exhibition measure only about 3 x 5 inches), it can be difficult to appreciate Dürer’s printmaking prowess in the galleries alone. To supplement your gallery experience, I thought I might share a few details from one of my favorite works in the exhibition, St. George on Foot.

Albrecht Dürer, St. George on Foot, c. 1502 - c. 1503, engraving, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Calvin J. Holmes

Albrecht Dürer, St. George on Foot, c. 1502-c. 1503, engraving, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Calvin J. Holmes

This engraving portrays St. George, a 3rd century military saint and martyr associated with his mythical slaying of a terrorizing dragon, the moment of which is depicted here. With a closer look, we can find some of the finer details that may otherwise be difficult to see in the gallery.

Albrecht Dürer, St. George on Foot (detail), c. 1502 - c. 1503, engraving, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Calvin J. Holmes

Albrecht Dürer, St. George on Foot (detail), c. 1502-c. 1503, engraving, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Calvin J. Holmes

Here we see St. George’s sensitively rendered expression as he looks off into the distance. Tendrils of hair escape his hairnet, evidence of the recent struggle between man and beast, while his beard and mustache are made of distinct curls. Framing St. George’s face is a spontaneously sketched halo, designating his holiness. Notice how Dürer was able to capture the volume and texture of the saint’s suit of armor through hatching and crosshatching, representing his remarkable ability to represent the metallic qualities of armor.

Albrecht Dürer, St. George on Foot (detail), c. 1502 - c. 1503, engraving, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Calvin J. Holmes

Albrecht Dürer, St. George on Foot (detail), c. 1502-c. 1503, engraving, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Calvin J. Holmes

The defeated dragon lies belly-up at St. George’s feet. This position makes the dragon appear especially grotesque with its open eyes, bared teeth, sharpened claws, pointed nose, and spiked wings. The monster’s neck and tail are marked with wounds created by St. George’s sword. During the 16th century, many Europeans believed dragons were real, so Dürer’s dragon both emphasizes St. George’s courage in fighting the beast while also instilling fear of the evil and unknown into viewers.

Albrecht Dürer, St. George on Foot (detail), c. 1502 - c. 1503, engraving, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Calvin J. Holmes

Albrecht Dürer, St. George on Foot (detail), c. 1502-c. 1503, engraving, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Calvin J. Holmes

Behind St. George, Dürer renders a village and harbor, which reminds us of the people George protected by slaying the dragon. The trees and buildings in a sinuous line appear as if they are floating on the water’s surface. The divide between land and water is ambiguous, and Dürer only implies land, shadow, water, and wave through simple hatch and crosshatch lines.

Albrecht Dürer, St. George on Foot (detail), c. 1502 - c. 1503, engraving, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Calvin J. Holmes

Albrecht Dürer, St. George on Foot (detail), c. 1502-c. 1503, engraving, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Calvin J. Holmes

Following his victory, St. George cast off his helmet, which holds an elaborate arrangement of lush feathers. The extravagant plumes contrast with the metallic gleam of the saint’s armor and the coarseness of the dragon’s flesh. In the lower left corner is Dürer’s distinctive signature of his initials, “A.D.”  With a careful eye, you can find Dürer signatures in each of the prints included in Saints and Monsters.

I hope that with this closer look you will better be able to appreciate Dürer’s virtuosity in the print medium and ability to utilize shadow, texture, and form to convey drama and emotion. Come see this work and more in Saints and Monsters: Prints by Albrecht Dürer, currently on view in the European Works on Paper Gallery, located on Level 2 and included in the Museum’s free general admission.

Laura Sevelis is the McDermott Curatorial Intern for European Art at the DMA.

Pulling At Our Heart Strings

When a Museum acquires a new work of art, it can be a very quick process or it can take months—or sometimes years! The latter was the case with The Harp Lesson, a monumental triple portrait by the French neoclassical painter Jean Antoine Théodore Giroust (1753–1817).

We first became aware of the painting’s availability in 2010, but the circumstances to purchase it were not quite right. When it came up for auction at Christie’s Old Masters sale in New York on January 28 of this year, we were ready to spring into action. So Olivier Meslay, the DMA’s Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs and Barbara Thomas Lemmon Curator of European Art, headed to New York, hoping that the weatherman’s forecast for twelve to eighteen inches of snow there would not thwart our chance to bid on the painting. The morning of the auction, several of us excitedly watched the sale live online from our offices in Dallas. The bidding went quite fast; it seemed to be over in the blink of an eye! Then, after the auctioneer said “sold!” with a thwack of his hammer, we had to endure several anxious minutes before we learned that the DMA was the high bidder.

This month, the monumental painting went on view in the European Galleries. Including the frame, it measures just shy of ten feet tall. While installing it was no minor undertaking, these pictures are proof that no challenge is too insurmountable for the DMA’s expert art preparators!

Completed in 1791, this large triple portrait depicts the fourteen-year-old Louise Marie Adelaïde Eugénie d’Orléans (1777–1847) and her governess, Stéphanie Félicité du Crest de Saint-Aubin, Comtesse de Genlis (1746–1830), each playing a large, beautiful harp. Leaning on the music stand before them is Mademoiselle Paméla (c. 1773–1831), who had been adopted by Madame de Genlis and raised as a companion to the d’Orléans children.

This remarkable life-size triple portrait is sure to create a sensation in our galleries just as it did when it debuted at the 1791 Salon in Paris.

installed

Martha MacLeod is the Curatorial Administrative Assistant in the European and American Art Department at the DMA.

We’re Turning Five

This Saturday, April 25, we are celebrating the 5th anniversary of the DMA Autism Awareness Family Celebration. The first program took place in April 2010, tied to Autism Awareness Month, with research beginning in the summer of 2009. A frequent DMA visitor with a son on the autism spectrum sparked my interest in creating an event in which families with children on the spectrum felt welcomed and comfortable at the DMA. I found there weren’t many museums that offered programming for this audience. After discussions with special education parent groups, I discovered that very few families had ever visited the DMA with their children on the spectrum due to the uncertainty of how their child might behave when here. It became apparent that the key element for hosting a program for this audience should include the following: an event that was private for families who had kids with autism, working with an autism specialist to plan activities to meet the specific needs of children on the spectrum, and providing resources to parents about the DMA.

For our pilot program in April 2010, I worked with an autism specialist to schedule the morning’s events, connected with a music therapist specializing in working with children with autism for a performance, and created a social story so that parents registered for the event could review and plan in advance with their child. The response for the first event was overwhelming! It was important to keep the attendance relatively low, so as not to overwhelm the children—and the waiting list grew to be just as long as the list of attendees. We received supportive affirmations from grateful parents both during and after the event.

Five years later, these events are still robust and constantly adjusting to accommodate community needs. When we piloted this program, the prevalence of autism was 1 in 110 children. Since 2009, the frequency of autism has increased to 1 in 88, and more recently 1 in 68. The DMA program has evolved over the years to include themes for each event, the creation of a quiet-sensory space with the help of the School of Occupational Therapy at Texas Women’s University, and tours for teens on the spectrum.

We have learned a great deal from visitors over the years at our Autism Awareness Family Celebrations, including how important the experience is for the siblings. Annie, age 11, told us that she “like[s] coming here because no one stares at my brother.” It’s feedback like this that helps us improve the program, and we love hearing the impact the event has on our participants:

Angie and her son during an Autism Awareness Family Celebration

“Our family has a 6-year-old nonverbal son with autism, and a 3-year-old son that is typically developing. We are an active family that loves to enjoy what DFW has to offer. We’ve been going to the DMA Autism Awareness Family Celebration events for the last few years, and we absolutely love them! Having been to many other family events and museums in the area, we have never found anything like what the DMA offers. It is exciting and refreshing that the Museum provides a safe and fun sensory-friendly event for kids on the spectrum, as well as for siblings. It is good for my youngest to see other families similar to ours. We struggle with finding activities that both of my boys can enjoy. From the interactive music program to art activities and sensory toys, the DMA has thought of everything. We love watching them play and interact together! Thank you!” —Angie G.

Rachel's son attending Hands-On Summer Art Camp for Children with Autism at the DMA

Rachel’s son attending Hands-On Art Summer Camp for Children with Autism at the DMA

“Our family is so thankful for the DMA’s outreach to the autism community. From the beginning, the DMA educators have provided programming very thoughtfully organized with the input of autism specialists and parents. Programs such as the Autism Awareness Days and their Summer Camp have opened up a new avenue for families with special needs children to explore and learn in the art museum. My son has attended the Hands-On Art Summer Camp for the past four years, and I’ve been so impressed with the camp preparation, the camp curriculum, and the trained educators and volunteers who have connected children with autism to the DMA’s art collection. My son feels very welcome at the DMA and always wants to return, which is such a blessing in light of the lack of educational public programming designed for children on the autism spectrum. The DMA has found their niche offering high-quality educational opportunities for special needs populations.” —Rachel S.

As we continue to learn more about the needs of children with autism, the definition of best practices in museums programming for this audience will continue to evolve. Society’s awareness of autism is fast-growing and, hopefully, more and more public institutions will begin to offer specialized experiences for kids on the spectrum and their families. It is important that nonprofits work together to share resources and help families with children on the spectrum feel comfortable visiting museums. Whether it is offering a summer camp just for children with autism (check out this year’s Hands-On Art Summer Camp at the DMA), creating a quiet corner in a museum gallery, or making a sensory-focused guide of your institution, we want all kids to have opportunities to learn, play, and have cultural experiences with their families.

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Learn more about all of the access programs the DMA offers at DMA.org.

 Amanda Blake is the Head of Family, Access, and School Experiences at the DMA.

Mr. Turner: They Say It’s Your Birthday

This week we will celebrate Joseph Mallord William “J. M. W.” Turner’s 240th birthday! The pioneering English artist always claimed that his birthday was April 23, 1775, but in fact the precise date of his birth is a bit of a mystery. Turner was a prolific artist. By the end of his celebrated career, he had produced more than 550 oil paintings, 2,000 watercolors, and 30,000 works on paper. You may recall many of his works from the DMA’s popular 2008 exhibition J. M. W. Turner.

But you don’t have to wait for another blockbuster exhibition to see paintings by Turner at the DMA. Wend your way to the European Galleries on Level 2 to see his 1803 landscape Bonneville, Savoy. In this painting, Turner describes the gentle landscape of the foothills of the Alps, dotted with signs of human habitation, but in the distance he includes a glimpse of Mont Blanc’s forbidding snow-capped peak.

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Bonneville, Savoy, 1803, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Nancy Hamon in memory of Jake L. Hamon with additional donations from Mrs. Eugene D. McDermott, Mrs. James H. Clark, Mrs. Edward Marcus and the Leland Fikes Foundation, Inc. 1985.97.FA

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Bonneville, Savoy, 1803, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Nancy Hamon in memory of Jake L. Hamon with additional donations from Mrs. Eugene D. McDermott, Mrs. James H. Clark, Mrs. Edward Marcus and the Leland Fikes Foundation, Inc., 1985.97.FA

Later in Turner’s career, his palette became brighter and more transparent, ultimately resulting in compositions that were almost pure shimmering color and light, making the objects he depicted practically unrecognizable. This mature style placed his works in the vanguard of European painting that greatly influenced the next generation of artists. In fact, the French impressionist Claude Monet closely studied Turner’s techniques.

To learn more about this important British artist, watch the 2014 film Mr. Turner. It includes a scene in which he reportedly strapped himself to the mast of a ship so that he could paint a snowstorm. Or even better, stop by the DMA’s Museum Store and purchase a copy of Turner: Life and Landscape by our own Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs, Olivier Meslay. The (obviously) well-written book 😉 includes rich illustrations and is a wealth of information about our birthday boy, Mr. Turner.

Martha Macleod is the Curatorial Administrative Assistant for the European and American Art Department at the DMA.

Summer Reading

Whether you’ll be on a beach or in the air-conditioned comfort of your home, get some inspiration from works in the DMA’s collection and dive into a good book this spring and summer. In addition, don’t miss the upcoming DMA Arts & Letters Live authors appearing at the Museum through July.

(left) Miguel Cabrera, Saint Gertrude (Santa Gertrudis), 1763, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Laura and Daniel D. Boeckman in honor of Dr. William Rudolph; (right) The Sisterhood book jacket, source: Amazon.com

(left) Miguel Cabrera, Saint Gertrude (Santa Gertrudis), 1763, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Laura and Daniel D. Boeckman in honor of Dr. William Rudolph; (right) The Sisterhood book jacket, source: Amazon.com

Saint Gertrude the Great (1256–1301 or 1302) was a German Benedictine nun and a prolific mystic writer. The artist, Miguel Cabrera, is considered one of the greatest 18th-century Mexican painters. Saint Gertrude is sure to enjoy The Sisterhood by Helen Bryan. In this beautifully written novel, a woman’s journey to finish her thesis shifts as she uncovers biblical and art historical secrets that stretch back to the Spanish Inquisition.

 

(left) Mary Cassatt, The Reading Lesson, c. 1901, oil on canvas, Lent by the Pauline Allen Gill Foundation; (right) The Book With No Pictures jacket cover, source: EmertainmentMonthly.com

(left) Mary Cassatt, The Reading Lesson, c. 1901, oil on canvas, lent by the Pauline Allen Gill Foundation; (right) The Book with No Pictures book jacket, source: EmntertainmentMonthly.com

Mary Cassatt’s The Reading Lesson looks like a peaceful reading scene between a woman and a young child. Perhaps they need a little more excitement, and Arts & Letters Live alum B. J. Novak has just the book for that! The Book with No Pictures encourages the reader to read every word, even if it’s silly or loud!

 

(left) Vessel (itinate), early 20th century, Cham or Mwona peoples, ower Gongola River Valley, Nigeria, Africa, terracotta, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of The Cecil and Ida Green Foundation; (right) Half of a Yellow Sun book jacket , source: Mr. Kew blog

(left) Vessel (itinate), Nigeria, Lower Gongola River Valley, Cham or Mwona peoples, early 20th century, terracotta, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of The Cecil and Ida Green Foundation; (right) Half of a Yellow Sun book jacket , source: Mr. Kew blog

This vessel from the early 20th century, featuring a stylized female figure, was traditionally used in divination and healing rituals among the diverse peoples in the Lower Gongola River Valley in northeast Nigeria. This figure, were she to come alive, might be interested in reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel Half of a Yellow Sun, which narrates the story of five individuals whose lives were dramatically altered by the Nigerian Civil War (1967-70).

 

(left) Pablo Picasso, Bust, 1907-1908, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Joshua L. Logan, Loula D. Lasker, Ruth and Nathan Cummings Art Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Edward S. Marcus, Sarah Dorsey Hudson, Mrs. Alfred L. Bromberg, Henry Jacobus and an anonymous donor, by exchange © Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; (right) Middlesex book jacket, source: Amazon.com

(left) Pablo Picasso, Bust, 1907-08, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Joshua L. Logan, Loula D. Lasker, Ruth and Nathan Cummings Art Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Edward S. Marcus, Sarah Dorsey Hudson, Mrs. Alfred L. Bromberg, Henry Jacobus, and an anonymous donor, by exchange © Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; (right) Middlesex book jacket, source: Amazon.com

Picasso’s Bust, with its ambiguous gender and powerfully defined lines, would be enthralled by Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex. This bestselling novel, featuring an intersex main character, explores the theme of identity and the many forms that it can take.

 

(left) Fernand Léger, The Divers (Red and Black), 1942, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of the James H. and Lillian Clark Foundation © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris; (right) Mrs Dalloway book jacket, Source: penguin.com.au

(left) Fernand Léger, The Divers (Red and Black), 1942, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of the James H. and Lillian Clark Foundation, © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris; (right) Mrs Dalloway book jacket, Source: penguin.com.au

Fernand Léger’s The Divers shows many different views of a body as it moves and dances throughout space. What better way to explore Léger’s modernist art theories than to enjoy Virginia Woolf’s modernist writing? Set during a single June day in London, a memorable event ties multiple characters together in this mid-20th-century masterpiece.

 

(left) François Auguste Biard, Seasickness on an English Corvette (Le mal de mer, au bal, abord d'une corvette Anglaise), 1857, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of J.E.R. Chilton; (right) Paris: The Novel book jacket, Source: Amazon.com

(left) François Auguste Biard, Seasickness on an English Corvette, 1857, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of J. E. R. Chilton; (right) Paris: The Novel book jacket, Source: Amazon.com

Seasickness on an English Corvette depicts travelers, bound for France, crossing the English Channel. The woman in the middle is clearly entranced by her book, which might be Paris, written by Edward Rutherfurd. This epic narrative of the City of Lights introduces a cast of characters whose fates have been intertwined since the Middle Ages.

Madeleine Fitzgerald is the Audience Relations Coordinator, Education, and Taylor Jeromos is the McDermott Education Intern for Adult Programming and Arts & Letters Live at the DMA.

You Are Invited to a Ball

This year’s Art Ball, held this past Saturday, marks the 50th occurrence of the event, which started as the Beaux Arts Ball in 1962. Each Ball usually has a theme, with invitations to match. Below are a few of my favorites from the 1960s and 70s, when the Museum was located in Fair Park.

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The first Beaux Arts Ball, April 27, 1962.

The first Beaux Arts Ball, held on April 27, 1962

 

Tlaloc's Frolic held on April 27, 1968.

Tlaloc’s Frolic, held on April 27, 1968

 

A Mad Hatter's Hoedown held on May 1, 1971.

A Mad Hatter’s Hoedown, held on May 1, 1971

 

A Celebration of the Dragon held on April 7, 1973

A Celebration of the Dragon, held on April 7, 1973

 

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A Deco Dance held on April 26, 1975

A Deco Dance, held on April 26, 1975

 

The Last Hurrah held on May 21, 1983. This was the last Ball held in the museum's Fair Park building before moving to the new museum in Downtown Dallas.

The Last Hurrah, held on May 21, 1983. This was the last Ball held in the Museum’s Fair Park building before moving to the new building in Downtown Dallas.

 

These and a few other favorites are currently on view in the Mayer Library, located on the DMA’s M2 level and included in free general admission.

Hillary Bober is the Archivist at the Dallas Museum of Art.

 

Red, White, and Blue: Third Annual Naturalization Ceremony at the DMA

This week we hosted our third annual naturalization ceremony. We welcomed 50 new American citizens from 21 countries—from Bangladesh to Zambia—on Monday, including one of the DMA’s own employees, Asheber Shoamanal. You may have seen Mr. Asheber greeting you when you arrive at the DMA; he has served as a gallery attendant for the past 17 years. Below are a few moments from the special day:

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Photos by Bob Manzano


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