Archive for June, 2016

Day Break

William McKeown, The Dayroom, 2004-2010, A room, a painting, and a drawing, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund, 2015.44.A-C

William McKeown, The Dayroom, 2004-10, a room, a painting, and a drawing, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund, 2015.44.a-c, © William McKeown

In a quiet corner of the DMA’s Barrel Vault, a recent acquisition to our contemporary collection sits inconspicuously in the Hanley Quadrant Gallery. Installed in March as part of Passages in Modern Art: 1946-1996, William McKeown’s The Dayroom references spaces found in institutions associated with illness and aging—hospitals, retirement centers, convalescent homes. Via artificial lighting, washed-out yellow walls, and a confining boxlike structure, McKeown attempts to mimic the disquieting artifice that pervades these rooms, which are often decorated with brightly colored wallpaper and works of art that attempt to cheer up an otherwise morbid space.

2

The installation takes the form of a room that initially appears to be little more than a framework of exposed wooden struts, scaffolding, and drywall; however, a window built into the side of the structure frames a direct sightline to a painting hung within the cube, inviting the viewer to enter the interior of the installation.

4

Pale yellow walls and cold fluorescent light welcome the viewer into the unsettling interior of The Dayroom. The sickly colored walls illuminated by the harsh sodium light elicit feelings of claustrophobia. The window looks out onto darkness, serving as a reminder of one’s containment and separation from the outside world. Working in tandem, these structural components form a space that situates the viewer in a position of captivity and powerlessness. After all, dayroom occupants are rarely there by choice.

6

McKeown’s vision, however, is not one of hopelessness. Hung on the interior walls are a painting and a drawing, both of which function metaphorically as breaths of fresh air within an otherwise suffocating setting.

Left: William McKeown, Untitled, 2004-2010, Oil on linen, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund, 2015.44.A-C / Right: William McKeown, Open drawing – Narrow Lane Primrose #2, 2005, Coloring pencil on paper, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund, 2015.44.A-C

Left: William McKeown, Untitled, 2004-10, oil on linen, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund, 2015.44.a-c. Right: William McKeown, Open drawing – Narrow Lane Primrose #2, 2005, coloring pencil on paper, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund, 2015.44.a-c. Both works © William McKeown.

Untitled is an oil on linen painting that represents a moment of soft early morning light experienced by McKeown. While the painting may appear to be a direct rendering of a sky, McKeown insisted that the work is, in fact, a hybrid image—one that melds an objective documentation of light with his own subjective, emotional response to it.

Installed on an adjacent wall, Open drawing – Narrow Lane Primrose #2 is a colored pencil drawing of a primrose, a flower found in the artist’s hometown in Tyrone County, Northern Ireland. Rendered so faintly that the paper initially appears to be blank, the yellow primrose is set against a stark white background, seeming to sprout, against all odds, out of nothing.

Both works encourage a heightened sensitivity to quiet, often unnoticed natural phenomena—the softness of daylight in early morning, a flower that reminds one of home—all the while providing moments of tranquility and hope within the oppressive interior space of the room. For McKeown, a work of art is meant to elicit a sense of belonging in the viewer. Best explained by the artist, he once said during a lecture at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, “When I paint a painting that has no image or a drawing of an open flower, I try to focus on a moment of inspiration, a moment of not feeling separate from nature or from self, a moment of the awareness of the perception of life, of perfection, of being at home in this world.”

9

The structure of The Dayroom frames McKeown’s painting and drawing as liberating objects, suggesting that works of art can, even if only for a moment, transport the viewer to a better, imagined state—one marked by hope, openness, and the warm feeling of belonging.

The Dayroom will be on view at the DMA through March 2017.

Nolan Jimbo is the Temporary Project Coordinator, Curatorial, at the DMA.

Riding With the Top Down

John Wise's Rolls Royce convertible, October 1971, John and Nora Wise Papers

John Wise’s Rolls Royce convertible, 1971, John and Nora Wise Papers

It’s summertime again in Texas, perfect for cruising the town in a convertible with the top down. Though convertibles can be useful for more than just feeling the wind in your hair and the sun on your face on a beautiful summer day. Other possibilities include . . .

Moving a large artwork . . .

Dallas artist Heri Bert Bartscht moving a sculpture in his convertible, Heri Bert Bartscht Papers

Dallas artist Heri Bert Bartscht moving a sculpture in his convertible, Heri Bert Bartscht Papers

Or, transporting a llama . . .

Sir Lancelot, a white llama, promoting "World of Ancient Gold" exhibition at the 1964 World's Fair, John and Nora Wise Papers

Sir Lancelot, a pure white llama, promoting the World of Ancient Gold exhibition at the 1964 World’s Fair, John and Nora Wise Papers

But admiring a beautiful Cadillac convertible in air-conditioned comfort is also nice . . .

Hot Cars, High Fashion, Cool Stuff : Designs for the 20th Century exhibition installation, March 31-July 14, 1996

Hot Cars, High Fashion, Cool Stuff : Designs of the 20th Century exhibition installation, March 31-July 14, 1996

Happy summer!

 

Hillary Bober is the Archivist at the DMA.

Silver Rush

Changes are taking place in the Museum’s Conservation Gallery, and those changes include the move of the impressive Wittgenstein Vitrine. Though it only took up residence down the hall, numerous hours and many hands were required to move the turn-of-the-19th-century masterpiece. Watch how 200 pounds of silver and semiprecious stones travels.

 

 

 

Penn v. Zoolander: It’s a Walk-Off!

Sometimes you need a little laughter and a trenta orange mocha Frappuccino to get you through the day. While the second is too difficult to deliver via screen, we are here to help with the first!

Fifteen years ago, Zoolander took pop culture by storm and instantly became a cult classic. And almost a century ago, one of the greatest American photographers renowned for fashion images was born. But what does a fictional model have in common with a distinguished shutterbug? A lot more than you might think!

Fashion aside, Irving Penn and Derek Zoolander were able to take something simple and make it a masterpiece. Be it a simple backdrop or a single pose, they created a phenomenon and neither one let societal norms dictate their art. It took time for their genius to be recognized, but in time all realized the beauty in their unique vision.

Okay, so their similarities may stop there, and we might have been reaching in the first place, but in the wise words of Hansel, “Don’t ask questions. Just give in to the power of the tea.” So if you like fashion and raucous amounts of fun, join us Wednesday night at Studio Movie Grill Spring Valley for a special screening of Zoolander in celebration of Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty and get 10% off exhibition tickets using the code STUDIOMOVIEGRILL.

Cool Story.

1981.191.9_quotes

Bernd Becher and Hilla Becher, Coal bunkers, 1978, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Carl, Elizabeth, Stahl, and Laura Urban, courtesy Sonnabend Gallery, New York, 1981.191.9, © 2016 Hilla Becher

2010.11.1_quote

Mario Pascual, Untitled, 2009, digital c-print, Dallas Museum of Art, Lay Family Acquisition Fund, 2010.11.1, © Marlo Pascual

1989.172_quotes

Jerry Bywaters, Self-Portrait, 1920, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Estate of Jerry Bywaters, 1989.172

2014.33.348_quote

Petra Zimmermann, Woman with dog brooch, 2000, silver, plastic, gold leaf, and antique glass stones, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Edward W. and Deedie Potter Rose, formerly Inge Asenbaum collection, gallery Am Graben in Vienna, 2014.33.348, © Petra Zimmermann

2014.29_quote

Koloman Moser, Self-Portrait, 1902, black chalk and pencil on paper, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Alessandra Comini in honor of Adriana Comini, 2014.29

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

Fashion in Vogue

Even though Irving Penn’s work in the exhibition at the DMA encompasses several subject areas (e.g., still life, portraiture, travel, and commercial photography), he is most widely known for his work in the fashion industry. His fame in this arena is well deserved, both for how he revolutionized the practice of the fashion shoot itself and for the simplified, bold, and elegant sophistication of the images he captured.

IMG_1762

Prior to Penn’s arrival at Vogue magazine in the 1940s, fashion shoots were organized around a contextual approach—meaning he had to design a “set” that provided a context or narrative for the clothes the model would be wearing. It was theatrical as well as being a lot of work. It didn’t take long before Penn abandoned that practice and adopted instead a stripped-down approach that peeled away all extraneous and distracting details. By using plain backgrounds, all the emphasis shifted to the models and the haute couture designs they wore. The designers loved it!

IMG_1757

When you look at Penn’s fashion photography, two strong characteristics dominate: an emphasis on form, or the silhouette, that is quite sculptural in its effect; and, the powerful sense of feminine independence of the modern woman. The latter was no accident. In Penn’s eyes, models weren’t just clothes hangers but rather intelligent and perceptive individuals for whom he had a great deal of respect. Consequently, these images come off as portraits, which is what Penn considered them to be, thus explaining why he always included their names in the titles.
The model for whom he likely had the greatest respect was the Swedish-born Lisa Fonssagrives, who is today considered to be the world’s first supermodel. The rapport and connection between them is palpable whenever she is looking into the lens of the camera. She was not just his muse; she also became his wife in 1950, just before they left New York to shoot the Paris collections.

IMG_1761

When Penn arrived in Paris in 1950, he set up on the top floor of a photography school. It was a daylight studio—meaning he used only the natural light that poured through the bank of north-facing windows. An abandoned theater curtain provided the softly mottled background for the shots. The studio and the stairwell up to it became a buzzing hive of activity as couriers arrived and departed. By bicycle, they ferried elaborate ensembles from the fashion houses of Dior, Balenciaga, Rochas, and Molyneux. Once the shoot was complete, they furiously pedaled their way back across town with their precious cargo.

IMG_1758

The photographs from that iconic Paris shoot are stunning for their simplicity and originality. Rochas’ curve-hugging mermaid dress and Dior’s wonderful nipped-waist black suit were all about the silhouette. Penn’s idea to concentrate on details of other designs was equally brilliant. His close-up shots of the gorgeous gathered sleeve of Balenciaga’s coat, or the distinctive pocket on a coat by Molyneux, drew attention to the superior design as well as the craftsmanship of the individuals who made them.

IMG_1759IMG_1760

Penn’s contribution to fashion photography set a standard that shaped not only the practice but also the industry itself. Many would adopt a simplified approach to the fashion shoot. Even today, other photographers, aspiring or established, stand in the long shadow of Penn’s legacy, borrowing his ideas or even re-creating some of his most innovative shots, like a nod of admiration to the creative genius of one of the 20th century’s greatest masters.

Celebrate Penn’s birthday tomorrow evening with the launch of our summer Thursdays and enjoy buy-one-get-one-free tickets to Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty. Strike a pose from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. and take home your favorite Penn-inspired memories with free prints made onsite from your Instagram account.

Sue Canterbury is The Pauline Gill Sullivan Associate Curator of American Art at the DMA.

Frida in Fresco

In March the Level 4 galleries overlooking the Atrium warmly welcomed a familiar face: Frida Kahlo. The DMA is lucky to have on loan two self-portraits of the famed Mexican artist, but there is something that makes one of these portraits unique in the artist’s oeuvre and a rare treasure on view at the Museum. Self-Portrait Very Ugly, as Kahlo lovingly titled her work, is a fresco—one of just two prepared by the artist during her career, and the only fresco on view at the DMA.

Traditionally, fresco painting is done on wall surfaces; however, the 20th-century movement of Mexican muralism revolutionized the medium to allow for smaller, portable murals made up of plaster panels just like Kahlo’s. The fresco painter uses water-based pigments on a freshly plastered wall, painting only what can be completed in a work day, or giornata. The binding of the pigment with the surface of the wall results in a monumental, durable image. While Kahlo’s husband, Diego Rivera, used the fresco technique in his practice as a muralist, Kahlo was unaccustomed to the speed and spontaneity required to complete a fresco. A slow, meditative process in oil painting better suited the artist, whose work is deeply introspective. The multilingual insults surrounding her face give us a hint of her displeasure with both her image and the technique, which she abandoned immediately.

The damaged fresco panel from 1933 presents a rare opportunity for visitors to see an underrepresented medium at the DMA, and an incredibly rare work by the well-known Mexican artist. See the loaned fresco work, and an accompanying Kahlo self-portrait, Itzicuintli Dog with Me, 1938, at the DMA for a limited time.

Frida_1

Frida Kahlo, Self-Portrait Very Ugly, 1933, fresco on plasterboard, private collection

Frida_2

Photograph of the fresco taken shortly after its completion in 1933 and before its damage.

Frida_3

Color copy of the fresco painted by a friend of Kahlo and assistant to Diego Rivera, Lucienne Bloch. Notice her initials “LB” in the lower left-hand corner, above Kahlo’s shoulder. This color copy and the black-and-white photograph give us an idea of what the completed fresco looked like.

 

Erin Piñon is the Early Texas Art Research Associate for the DMA 

DMA BFFs

What makes a best friend? There are some common traits associated with a BFF: someone who knows you better than anyone else, someone who accepts you, someone who is honest and forgiving, someone who listens and offers advice, and someone who is trustworthy. We all have best friends, so it isn’t surprising that artists do too. But it is special when two artists share that closeness because their friendship influences each other’s work. In honor of National Best Friends Day, we are highlighting some of the artistic friendships represented in the DMA’s collection.

Facto

Vincent van Gogh, Sheaves of Wheat, July 1890, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection 1985.R.80

1963.34

Emile Bernard, Breton Women Attending a Pardon, 1892, oil on cardboard, Dallas Museum of Art, The Art Museum League Fund 1963.34

Vincent van Gogh and Emile Bernard met in the mid-1880s, when Bernard was 18 years old and van Gogh 15 years his senior. Both artists were greatly influenced by Japanese art—Bernard by the simplicity and flat forms and van Gogh by the spatial effects, strong color, everyday objects, and detailed depictions of nature. The friends corresponded through mail, often sending each other drawings and discussing their artistic ideas. In 1889, following van Gogh’s highly critical response to Bernard’s Christ in the garden of olives, their correspondence ceased; however, after van Gogh’s death Bernard wrote the first published biography on Vincent van Gogh.

Front

Octavio Medellín, Smoky Celadon, n.d., glazed stoneware, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase, 1949.36

1951_108_v02_o4

Carlos Mérida, Dancers of Tlaxcala, 1951, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase, 1951.108

Octavio Medellín met Guatemalan painter Carlos Mérida in Mexico in the late 1920s. The friends traveled together and taught at North Texas State (now University of North Texas) from 1941 to 1942. Though Mérida eventually returned to Mexico, the two remained close friends and influenced each other’s work until Mérida died in 1985.

1984.174

Jacob Lawrence, The Visitors, 1959, tempera on gessoed panel, Dallas Museum of Art, General Acquisitions Fund, 1984.174

after conservation

Romare Bearden, Soul Three, 1968, paper and fabric collage on board, Dallas Museum of Art, General Acquisitions Fund and Roberta Coke Camp Fund, 2004.11

Romare Bearden and Jacob Lawrence grew up in Harlem following the Harlem Renaissance and were profoundly influenced by the music, literature, and culture of their neighborhood. As young men, both participated in various community-based art classes and workshops in the area and were inspired by writer and philosopher Alain Locke. The two corresponded throughout the years, and some of their letters are available through the Archives of American Art.

Barney Delabano studied under Otis Dozier when he attended Southern Methodist University and then the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts School in the late 1940s. Over time, Dozier and his wife, Velma, came to be Delabano’s close friends. The Doziers would even come to be mentors for Barney Delabano’s son, artist Martin Delabano.

Helen Frankenthaler and David Smith were first introduced by art critic Clement Greenberg in 1950. Throughout their 15-year friendship, they not only visited each other’s studios and corresponded through mail but even vacationed together with their families. They remained close friends until Smith’s death in 1965.

Jessica Fuentes is the Manager of Gallery Interpretation and the Center for Creative Connections at the DMA.

 


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,401 other followers

Flickr Photo Stream