Archive for April, 2017

Picture Yourself

Self-portraits are compelling images because they appear to show us the person behind the artwork, offering us a special peek into who the artist was. We hope that by looking at the self-portrait, we can learn something about the subject. Yet, much like the selfies we post on social media, the artists were presenting themselves how they wished to be seen.

Just as selfies allow our friends and family to feel like they’re sharing in our daily lives, they are ultimately the result of our own conscious decisions, just like a self-portrait. The self-portraits we see in museums are images that exist somewhere between how we see the artist and how the artist wanted us to see him or her.

My upcoming exhibition Multiple Selves: Portraits from Rembrandt to Rivera, opening this weekend in the Museum’s European Galleries on Level 2,  focuses on this play between how we want to be seen and how we are seen. The majority of the images are self-portraits, ranging from the 17th to the 20th centuries in a variety of media, including etching, lithography, and drawing.

Just as we use objects and clothing in our selfies to identify ourselves (think college t-shirts to mark us as alums or pictures in front of tourist landmarks to show where we’ve been), artists in these self-portraits use different objects and costumes to help us identify the person we see in the portrait as an artist.

Koloman Sokol, Self-Portrait, mid-20th century, wood engraving, Dallas Museum of Art, anonymous gift, 1949.11

In many of the works, these objects are tools of the trade, or items that are specific to an artist’s working life. This includes palettes, canvases, mahl sticks (used by artists to keep their painting hand steady), drawing implements, and jewelry, which historically marked an artist’s inclusion in a professional guild or within a royal court.

One work in particular offers an intriguing example of this complex dynamic. Self-Portrait by Koloman Sokol is this type of double self-portrait. Sokol, a Slovakian artist by birth who worked extensively in Mexico and the United States, probably created this self-portrait sometime in his 30s. In it, we see not only the completed self-portrait but also the artist caught in the act of creating a self-portrait. At the bottom of the print, the outlines of this second self-portrait take shape. This second self-portrait is being created just as the first one was, through a printmaking process known as wood engraving. To help us identify the work he is doing, he includes his tools—the wood block he is carving on and a burin, a tool used in printmaking to cut into the metal plate or wood block.

Detail of Self-Portrait

In the works that feature artist tools, like Sokol’s, the artists are manipulating their own image to ensure that we as an audience recognize the duality of their self-portrait, that we recognize the artist as an artist through both the self-portrait as a work of art and through the artist’s self-presentation as an artist.

For more about self-portraits, join me for a free Gallery Talk on Wednesday, May 3, at 12:15 p.m. in the exhibition. For another type of double self-portrait, be sure to visit The Two Fridas, now on view in the exhibition México 1900–1950: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco, and the Avant-Garde, on view only at the DMA.

Amy Wojciechowski is the Dedo and Barron Kidd McDermott Graduate Intern for European Art.

The Mondrian Brand

The abstract paintings of Dutch artist Piet Mondrian have become ubiquitous in pop culture, from architecture to designer fashions. In a sense his geometric, primary-colored compositions have become a brand. This proliferation and appropriation of an artistic style begs the question, what shapes an artist’s legacy? Why do some works of art become so intertwined with pop culture that they become icons instantly recognizable to mass audiences? Join us on Thursday, April 27 at 7:00 p.m. for The Mondrian Brand and hear from Dr. Nancy Troy, Victoria and Roger Sant Professor in Art at Stanford University and author of The Afterlife of Piet Mondrian.

Piet Mondrian, Place de la Concorde, 1938–1943, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of the James H. and Lillian Clark Foundation 1982.22.FA

To contemplate Mondrian’s pop culture legacy in my own way I thought it was finally time to attempt the complex and beautiful Mondrian Cake made famous by Caitlin Freeman in her book Modern Art Desserts: Recipes for Cakes, Cookies, Confections, and Frozen Treats Based on Iconic Works of Art.

The first three lines of the recipe are just a taste of what goes into this chocolate-soaked masterpiece:
Makes one 16 by 3 by 3-inch cake, serving 15
Hands-on time: 6 hours
From start to finish: 2 days


To begin, I had to make four velvety cakes: one white, one blue, one red, and one yellow. Freeman uses a delicious recipe with a shocking butter content (I made two trips to the store). As you might imagine, I ended up with a rainbow of leftover cake that I was too lazy to repurpose into another dessert.

After precisely cutting each section of the Mondrianesque composition I glued them together with 24 oz of bittersweet chocolate ganache and finished the cake with a shower of ganache. With two days of cake construction behind me I was impatient to see the finished product and did not let it set up in the fridge for the recommended three hours. Each slice revealed a mini Mondrian, if only slightly wonky and Easter-egg colored. We’ll never know if Mondrian would have approved of this culinary counterfeit, but I was certainly satisfied with my effort.

Jessie Frazier is the Manager of Adult Programming 

The DMA Test Kitchen

This Friday, author, artist, and editor Natalie Eve Garrett will be here to discuss The Artists’ and Writers’ Cookbook which features intimate, funny, and heartbreaking stories paired with recipes from some of the most brilliant creative minds of our time.

And, in what has become a tradition for the Adult Programming team, we decided to try our hand at making a few of the recipes featured in the book. You can find our other cooking attempts here, here, and here.

Madeleine Fitzgerald, Audience Relations Coordinator for Programming:

I couldn’t resist choosing Alice Hoffman’s Grandmother’s Recipe for Life (also known as potato soup) for a couple of reasons. First of all, my mother’s potato soup has literal healing powers. Anytime one of my family members or friends had surgery, my mother and I would make the Famous Magical Potato Soup and by morning you would miraculously feel better. I knew going into this that nothing would beat my own mother’s recipe, not even Alice Hoffman’s grandmother’s recipe. There’s no way this soup could be more magical than my mother’s. Even if it’s from the writer of Practical Magic.

This recipe called for very few ingredients, and three of them were garlic, onion, and leeks. Nothing compliments potatoes better than onions and garlic! Also, any recipe that calls for wine is a friend of mine.

First you chop the trifecta of the onion family. It’s important to spend a sold 5 minutes admiring and photographing the geometric shape and bright green color of the leeks.

In a heavy saucepan, melt an entire stick of butter, the onion, lots of garlic, and leeks and cook until soft and starting to caramelize.

While you stir for about 10-15 minutes, open the wine early and pour yourself a glass (especially in a cute DMA wine glass!).

Then chop up the potatoes and toss them in as well. The recipe said to sauté for 7 minutes, but I wanted them to get some brown crispy spots on them before adding in the liquid (caramelization equals flavor!), so I actually let them cook for about 20 minutes before adding chicken stock, wine, salt, and lots of pepper. I poured a second glass of wine here.

The recipe does not tell you how long to cook the soup once you add the liquid. The last step is literally “Hope for the best.” I cooked it for about 20 more minutes until potatoes were cooked through and the starches in the potatoes naturally thickened the soup.

I garnished with some homegrown chives and more pepper (and maybe another splash or two of wine). I liked the soup just fine, but it needed more than just potatoes and onions.

Things I Learned: Next time I’ll add a lot more veggies: corn, peas, carrots, and even chicken or bacon. This soup was very creamy, even without any actual milk, cream, or cheese, which my mom uses heavily in her recipe. And this is why, for me, my mom’s recipe will always be better than Alice Hoffman’s grandmother’s.

 

Stacey Lizotte, Head of Adult Programming and Multimedia Services:

I decided to make the Kentucky Pizza because I am always on the lookout for a new pizza crust recipe and I was curious what zucchini and squash would add, texture-wise, to a pizza.

When I have made pizza dough before, the recipes usually call for you to let the dough rest for two hours, giving the yeast time to do its job. This recipe calls for a 24 hour resting period. So I made the dough on a Saturday in preparation for a Sunday pizza dinner.

This recipe also mentioned using a pizza stone – and while I normally make my pizzas on a sheet pan I thought I would treat myself to a pizza stone and a pizza sheet (used to transfer your pizza to and from the hot stone).

After preparing all my ingredients – shredding the smoked mozzarella and cooking the vegetables – I assembled my pizza on the pizza sheet.

I used plenty of corn meal and flour on the pizza sheet to make sure it wouldn’t stick and could slide right off on to the hot stone…but apparently I did not use enough. As I ended up with this:

Needless to say, my Sunday pizza dinner ended up being this:

Things I learned: When you are trying out a new kitchen tool, like a pizza stone, you maybe should do a few test runs before trying a recipe that will be featured on a blog.

 

Jessie Frazier, Manager of Adult Programming:

I’ve always found it kind of magical when a recipe makes strange ingredients tasty, so the editor’s own contribution to the cookbook, Disgustingly Good Cookies, caught my eye.

The recipe begins with chickpeas, drained, dried, and chopped in a food processor until they form a fluffy and surprisingly dough-like consistency. I added peanut butter, honey, vanilla, banana, and baking powder to the mix and finished it off with dark chocolate chips. I’m ashamed to say I was not brave enough to try the raw dough.

After scooping gobs of dough onto a cookie sheet and pressing them with a fork, I topped each cookie with a pinch of sea salt and put them into a 350 degree oven for about 13 minutes.

The flavor is nutty, oaty, just sweet enough, and thankfully not reminiscent of chickpeas. The texture is more akin to no-bake energy bites than crispy, ooey gooey cookies. These are not the indulgent cookies that I would eat while binge-watching Netflix. They are the ones I would put in my gym bag for a boost of energy before spin class, if I went to spin class.

Things I Learned: I still want to eat real cookies. But I’m glad to add this trick to my repertoire.

 

Katie Cooke, Manager of Adult Programming:

I was drawn to Francesca Lia Block’s Apple “Betty” recipe at first because I would be able to eat baked apples and call it work. And second, because of the beautiful, but sad poem that went along with it. The early stanzas call for white tapers, a crystal, and a plastic horse. I hope everyone will be okay with my substitutions of white tea candles and a tuxedo cat.

This recipe is about as simple as it gets, all I needed was flour, rolled oats, brown sugar, butter, and 4 apples. I’m always happy with a recipe that calls for things that I already have in my pantry.

You combine all the dry ingredients together in a bowl, easy enough. And then I went to work peeling the 4 gala apples. The recipe called for sweet or tart apples. I honestly do not know what the best apple is for baking, but gala apples are usually pretty sweet, so I chose them! After peeling the apples I cut them into quarters and pared them. To be honest, I think I may have cut them a little thinner than I should, but they were all uniform and isn’t that what really matters in the end? I’m going to tell myself, yes.

After all that cutting you throw the apples in the buttered pie pan. You melt the “cube of butter”, that is all it said in the recipe, so I used my best judgment. You melt it and mix that into the dry ingredients and then scoop it evenly onto the apples. I covered the pie pan with foil and baked it for 15 minutes then removed the foil and baked it for half an hour. It smelled amazing while it baked, 10 out of 10 for smell alone.

The first reaction I had was that the topping was good, but that was probably due to the clumps of warm, brown sugar. I wanted there to be cinnamon or nutmeg, some other flavor to really bring out the apple’s sweetness. But, for a recipe that I could make pretty much any day, at a moment’s notice, AND have Blue Bell ice cream, I was a happy camper.

Things I learned: Warm, baked apples should still count as a serving of fruit, even when there’s ice cream involved. Also, it’s great when a recipe is simple, but expect the taste to be on the simple side.

 

Please join us on Friday, April 21 at 7:00 p.m. to hear Natalie Eve Garrett discuss The Artists’ and Writers’ Cookbook: A Collection of Stories with Recipes.

Shelf Life

In celebration of National Library Week, we are taking a tour of The Mildred R. and Frederick M. Mayer Library, the DMA’s art research library located on the second mezzanine level.

Established in 1936, the collection opened to the public in 1944, and over time has grown as an essential resource for use by DMA staff, docents, and the public.

Library at Fair Park, circa 1940s-1950s

In 1993, the Hamon Wing of the DMA opened and the library moved into its current space.

At the library’s entrance there is a display case used to highlight items from the library’s collection.

Currently in the display case is Temporada de lluvias: 360⁰ panoramas of the Maya lowlands by Phillip Hofstetter with poems by David Freidel. Three-foot-long pages reproduce photographs of ancient Maya ruins. The book is covered in Maya bark and banana leaf and bound with Maya sisal twine.

Entering the reading room, visitors sign in and can peruse new exhibition catalogues and art magazines, browse through reference books, or take a moment to reflect in one of the three alcoves with a view of the Fleischner Courtyard and downtown. This Webster’s unabridged dictionary from 1946 is very popular!

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In the library you can view paintings on local subjects by Texas artists from the DMA’s collection, including Scene of Three Murders by Julie Bozzi, which is about three unrelated murders at the same location on the Trinity River, and the hyperrealist Looking North, Fort Worth 1999 by J.T. Grant, See all works on display in the library through the online collection.

Originally established from gifts and the purchase of 1,400 titles, today the library has over 100,000 volumes supporting research on all areas of the Museum’s encyclopedic art collection. The majority of the materials are stored in areas not open to the public. Here are a few examples of what you can request to view in the library:

Moveable stacks housing the library’s non-circulating collection.

With many rare items in the collection, one of the oldest and rarest books is a Bible in Latin published in 1526 with woodblock printed illustrations. Fewer than 20 other institutions in the world own this edition.

A few rare books from the Locked Case section of the library stacks.

The full title of this bible is Biblia cum concordantiis Veteris et Novi Testamenti et sacrorum canonum : necnon et additionibus in marginibus varietatis diversorum textuum : ac etiam canonibus antiquis quattuor Evangeliorum : novissime autem additae sunt concordantiae ex viginti libris Iosephi De antiquitatibus et Bello Iudaico excerptae que solerti cura nuperrime repurgata est et excusa : in qua pluribus scatebat mendis, published by [Lyons] : Venundatur Lugdun[um] in ædibus Iacobi Mareschal Prope Nostre Dame de Confort, 1526.

There are 20,000 vertical files on local and international, well-known and lesser-known artists. Artists files contain handwritten notes, resumes, clippings, photos, exhibition announcements, press release,s and other small ephemera compiled over the last 60 years.

Items from the artist file on Otis Dozier (1904-1987), a prominent Texas artist.

Though current issues of art magazines and auction catalogs are available in the Reading Room, there are approximately 350 serials and 20,000 auction catalogs dating back to 1945 also located in storage.

At the heart of the library, sometimes-unnoticed behind walls and desks are the keeper, organizers and preservers of the DMA’s extensive research collection. This small, dedicated band of librarians and catalogers serve over 4,000 patrons per year, including students working on research papers, area appraisers, scholars researching items in the DMA collection, and individuals who want to learn more about the artist in their personal collections.

Pictured here are not the current librarians, but the card catalog is still in the library.

Be sure to stop by and check out the Mayer Library.

Pauline Martin is the Assistant Librarian at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Installing 13 Centuries in One Gallery

Art is on the move with less than a week to go before the Museum’s permanent gallery space dedicated to the long-term loan of the Keir Collection of Islamic Art opens on Tuesday, April 18. The largest public presentation of this renowned collection will feature works that range from rock crystal to metalwork, ceramics, textiles, carpets, and works on paper.

 

Adventures with Stephen Tobolowsky

On April 18, Stephen Tobolowsky will return to the DMA Arts & Letters Live stage to celebrate the release of his second memoir, My Adventures with God. In preparation for his visit, I had the privilege of interviewing Stephen about his acting turned writing career and some of the things he learned along the way. His answers are insightful, relatable, and as always, humorous. From the aspiring artist to the admiring onlooker, Stephen offers advice, intentionally or not, for anyone interested in advancing his or her own path to success and level of self-awareness. So, what did I glean from our interchange, you might wonder? Well, as a young professional embarking on a long career ahead of me, this interview reminded me that I do not need to have all the answers, That I can trust my instincts, and that, even in times of doubt, I should cling to what gives me strength and a sense of what makes me, me. Below you can read just a snippet of our discussion and get a glimpse into what’s to come on the night of his much anticipated appearance at the DMA:

Sara: In this book, you continually return to Judaism as a kind of grounding force throughout the vicissitudes of your life. Can you speak broadly about how you understand the role of faith, religious or not, factoring into one’s lived experience?

Stephen: This is the question from which all questions come. We like to think that we are fixed quantities that move through time. We are not. We are equations with more than one unknown. I think this fundamental uncertainty about our existence is why we cling to things we feel are certain. Like science. Like art. It’s why people like cats. We are certain of their uncertainness.

The only protections we have from false prophets and the despair that grips us all at one time or another is beauty and in embracing a good philosophy. Judaism provides both.

We live in an age that popularly views religion as primitive and elevates science. I like science, even when it is wrong. I find the pursuit of answers inspirational. But for my money, I don’t care how smart Steven Hawking is or how interesting a black hole may be, if he doesn’t understand the Holiness code of Leviticus, not to curse the deaf nor put an obstacle before the blind, it doesn’t add up to much.

Judaism is a layer cake built over thousands of years. The different layers reflect that age’s relationship to truth. In some ages, it was popular to think that truth can be known. You end up with the Ten Commandments. In other ages, it was popular to think the truth was hidden. You end up with mystical works like the Zohar and the Midrash. There are very few creations of man that have existed through so many conflicting times and have survived so many hardships. The wisdom embodied in Judaism has endured. The philosophy in a nutshell? From Hillel over two thousand years ago: “What is hateful to you do not do unto your fellow man. The rest is commentary. Go and study.”

To read the entire interview, you can visit Stephen’s website, where he posted the exchange in two parts: Part I and Part II. The Museum is excited to welcome Stephen back to DMA Arts & Letters Live, so go grab a copy of My Adventures with God in the DMA Store and join us for an evening full of inquisitive minds, entertaining anecdotes, and rip-roaring laughter.

Sara Beth Greenberg is the McDermott Graduate Intern for Adult Programming and Arts & Letters Live at the DMA.

We’re all Family!

For the past two weekends, thousands of visitors have flocked to the Museum to celebrate DMA Family Days/DMA días familiares. The first two  Sundays, presented through the generosity of the World Affairs Council DFW and George and Natalie (“Schatzie”) Lee,  were a hit. Even thunderstorms couldn’t keep people away! On DMA Family Days, you can enjoy both free admission to the exhibition México 1900–1950: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco, and the Avant-Garde and México 1900–1950 themed activities and live performances. If you can’t tell from the smiling faces below, DMA Family Days gives a whole new meaning to the saying Sunday Funday!

Mark your calendars:
Sunday, April 9: Presented by The Heart of Neiman Marcus Foundation
Sunday, April 16: Presented by The M.O.B. Family Foundation
Sunday, April 23: Presented by Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP
Sunday, April 30: Presented by Texas Christian University
Sunday, May 7, and Sunday, May 14: Presented by Bank of America

 


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