Archive for November, 2017

Fall Is in the Air

Fall is one of my favorite times of year: the leaves turn colors and the weather turns cool, bringing with it the promise of the holidays soon to come. One thing I enjoy most is taking a walk around my neighborhood to appreciate the fall scenery. I especially love to take in all of the beautiful colors this season has to offer. Red orange, spring green, golden yellow, deep magenta, and navy blue are just a few that might come to mind.

If the weather is too cool for a walk, a trip to the Museum is definitely the next best thing. The DMA has such a wonderful collection of paintings that capture the beauty of fall. One artist who was greatly inspired by nature in every season is Camille Pissarro. He loved to paint outdoors, sketching every detail he observed and then adding his own color to the picture.

Camille Pissarro, Apple Harvest, 1888, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Munger Fund, 1955.17.M

Pissarro’s Apple Harvest shows a fun seasonal activity that takes place in the French countryside. Normandy, the province where this scene occurs, is well known for its apples. Many of the region’s most famous dishes include apples: apple brandy, apple tarts, and mussels with apples and cream are some examples of Normandy’s cuisine. Pissarro chose his colors very carefully to convey the colors of the countryside. There are warm hues of orange and red, bright tones of green, and cool shades of blue. His painting is a perfect reminder of all there is to enjoy about the beauty of the season.

Camille Pissarro, The Road to Versailles, Louveciennes: Morning Frost, 1871, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, 1985.R.42

Pissarro was also well known for his landscape paintings, in which he strove to capture his chosen scene with great attention to detail and honesty. He found great beauty in nature, carefully observing his surroundings. One of his paintings in the Museum’s Reves Collection depicts a morning walk in the fall, just before the season turns into winter. There is snow on the ground, but it is beginning to melt in the morning sun. Pissarro loved to take humble scenes, like a morning walk, and make them into something special.

Take some inspiration from Pissarro this season. Take time to observe your surroundings—there is so much beauty to be seen at this time of year.

Samantha Evans is the McDermott Graduate Intern for Family and Access Teaching at the DMA.

Homer for the Holidays

They say there’s no place like home for the holidays, and here at the Museum, we’ve been excited about one of the oldest stories about going home: The Odyssey. On Wednesday, November 29, DMA Arts & Letters Live will host award-winning author Daniel Mendelsohn as he talks about his book An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic. Mendelsohn’s memoir shares what he learned from teaching his dad in a university course on Homer’s The Odyssey, reading and reliving this epic.

Thanks to the DMA’s wonderful collection of classical art, visitors can view Greek artworks related to Homer’s The Odyssey before Mendelsohn’s talk. Here are a few of our favorites.

Heroes

The star of The Odyssey, Odysseus, is not your typical hero. As Mendelsohn’s dad points out, Odysseus “lost all his men . . . is a liar . . . cheated on his wife . . . and without the gods [is] helpless” (Mendelsohn). However, classical heroes are not necessarily moral, but merely impressive people who fought well and died for honor. The DMA’s  funerary sculpture of a young man shows the Greek idea of a hero: a great man who died bravely in battle. This idealized nude figure at the prime of his life is memorialized in a military stance.

Figure of a young man from a funerary relief, Greek, Attic, c. 330 B.C.E., marble, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Cecil H. Green, 1966.26

Frenemies

The real prototype for a Greek hero is Achilles, the famed warrior of Homer’s epic The Iliad. We find Achilles fighting on this DMA black-figure panel amphora. Looking back to The Iliad, the interactions between Achilles and Odysseus are strained, even while they fight for the same side. Achilles tells Odysseus, “I hate . . . like the very Gates of Death [that man] who stoops to peddling lies” (as translated by Fagles). Since Odysseus uses tricks constantly, it makes sense that the two don’t get along.

Black-figure panel amphora, Greek; Attic, last quarter of 6th century B.C.E., ceramic, Dallas Museum of Art, Munger Fund, 1965.29.M

Seduction and Violence

The Odyssey illustrates the dangers of two timeless powers: love and death. Look inside this DMA kylix, or drinking bowl, and you’ll find a familiar face: a siren. The enchanting sirens are one of Odysseus’s obstacles, and they combine the two dangers of seduction and physical violence. Placed on the interior of this bowl, the image of the siren was likely meant to ward off evil.

Black-figure kylix, Attic, c. 550-530 B.C.E., ceramic with slip, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Bill and Jean Booziotis and Wendover Fund in honor of Pepecha Zarafonetis Booziotis, 2004.19

Immortality

Gold olive-leaf wreaths typically crowned athletes, influential politicians, or individuals who had died. When crowning dead bodies, as this DMA wreath likely did, the undying gold may have symbolized the hope that the fame of the individual would triumph in immortality. The desire for immortality was a frequent theme in Greek mythology. However, Odysseus is unique in that, when offered immortality from the goddess Calypso, he refuses it. For him, reaching home is more important than eternal life.

Wreath, Greek, 4th century B.C.E., gold, Dallas Museum of Art, Museum League Purchase Funds, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., and Cecil H. and Ida M. Green in honor of Virginia Lucas Nick, 1991.75.55

In Greek, the word nostos refers to a return trip home (fun fact: nostos + algos, which means grief or pain, is the root of nostalgia). Only a small portion of The Odyssey is considered a true telling of nostos, but the prevalence of nostos ballads shows that the Greeks definitely recognized the value of returns. Mendelsohn and his father seem to agree: while reaching the end can be complicated, there is something important about a journey back. Wherever you might be heading this winter, safe travels!

Tickets are still available to see Daniel Mendelsohn at the DMA on November 29! Join me that night for a pre-event tour as we take a closer look at Homer’s themes in the DMA’s Greek collection.

Kathleen Alva, McDermott Intern for Adult Programming and Arts & Letters Live at the DMA.

 

Home Is Where the Art Is

“Now this is the good stuff,” notes Leon Pollard, an artist from the Stewpot Art Program, as he settles in front of Jean Baptiste Marie Pierre’s The Abduction of Europa. We’re exploring flowers in the DMA’s collection, and Leon, who was recently commissioned to paint a mural for his church, immediately points out how Pierre skillfully guides the viewer’s eye across the expanse of the oversized 18th-century canvas. He breaks into a characteristic grin and says, “I really look forward to coming every month. It’s always an education—an inspiration.”

Leon sharing his work in the Sculpture Garden

This summer we marked the one-year anniversary of our monthly gallery teaching program in partnership with The Stewpot, a community outreach program that serves homeless and at-risk populations here in Dallas. Beyond addressing basic survival needs, The Stewpot offers enrichment opportunities for healing, financial support, and personal growth. The Stewpot Art Program offers class time and art supplies to individuals looking to express themselves creatively, grow as artists, and support themselves through the sale of their work. Thanks to Tanya Krueger, one of our DMA docents who also volunteers for The Stewpot, we were able to connect and coordinate a monthly visit for Stewpot artists here at the DMA. Visit by visit, we’ve gotten to know each other and the artists have grown more comfortable in the Museum. A favorite memory of mine is when one of the artists, Donald of Dallas, dropped by to visit during a rainy day, knowing he was welcome at the DMA.

Working with the Stewpot Art Program has been an eye-opening introduction to the realities of homelessness in our community. Our diverse group includes former teachers, first responders, and veterans. Importantly, there is no single narrative of homelessness, and we should never assume that homelessness reflects the consequence of an individual’s poor decisions. Over the past year, I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for the importance of building relationships and inviting our community into the Museum. This point was driven home when Leon observed, “I used to sleep in the Arts District because it’s peaceful and you can sometimes hear music. I never knew this was here! Now I learn something new every visit by looking at the art.”

Luis with David Alfaro Siqueiros’s Self-Portrait (The Great Colonel) in the México 1900–1950 exhibition earlier this year

Words cannot express how grateful and thankful I am to work with this group and get to know the artists. Together, we’ve seen art come alive through our participants’ experience and interpretations. We’ve shared moments of joy and gratitude—such as when one of the artists, Luis, broke into applause in front of David Alfaro Siqueiros’s Self-Portrait (The Great Colonel), which was on view in the special exhibition México 1900–1950: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco, and the Avant-Garde—and we’ve encouraged each other to take risks and try new styles and subject matter when we sketch in the galleries. We’ve celebrated graduations, new jobs, and a participant receiving a new set of dentures. We have even taken solace in the timeless beauty of the Keir Collection following the unexpected loss of a participant. Our experience illustrates that art is for everyone, and that studying art helps us understand the human experience and enriches our lives. Looking back, especially during the Thanksgiving season, on our time together sharing gallery discussions, art making, and an appreciation for art and each other’s company, I am deeply thankful for the opportunity to work with the amazing Stewpot artists.

Lindsay O’Connor is the Manager of Docent and Teacher Programs at the DMA.

Cookie Monster Learns to Weave

Cookie Monster, who was in town for a Sesame Street Live performance, visited the DMA and tried his hand—paw?—at weaving. Cookie Monster’s visit on February 28, 1995, included a lesson in weaving from experts demonstrating the use of looms that were on display in the Gateway Gallery, now the DMA’s Center for Creative Connections, for the exhibition The Art of the Loom.

I hope Cookie Monster brings a smile to your day, as he always does to mine.

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

Islamic Art Festival: By the Numbers

Starting tomorrow, the DMA will host a free three-day Islamic Art Festival celebrating the Keir Collection of Islamic Art. The Keir Collection installation on view in Focus Gallery I and included in the DMA’s free general admission is the largest public presentation in the history of one of the world’s most important private collections of Islamic art. While the collection has been on view since the spring, we knew we wanted to host a large celebration in honor of the collection coming to the DMA, which led us to plan the Islamic Art Festival: The Language of Exchange.

The festival will feature talks, artist demonstrations, music, and dance performances all highlighting Islamic art and the influence it has had across cultures.

American Bedouin will perform on Thursday night.

Calligraphers from the Islamic Art Revival Series will write your name in Arabic on Saturday.

Dance performances will take place in the Atrium on Friday and Saturday.

To give you a sense of all of the exciting and informative programs that will be packed into three days, I thought it would be fun to share a “by-the-numbers” for the Islamic Art Festival:

59 – Number of musicians, dancers, artists, and speakers participating in the festival

6 – Number of Spotlight Talks in the Keir Collection of Islamic Art

15 – Total number of hours of the Islamic Art Festival—who will spend all 15 hours with us?

4 – Number of hands-on art-making activities you can do during the festival

8 – Number of music performances you can enjoy during the festival

3 – Number of dance performances you can watch during the festival

0 – The cost of attending the Islamic Art Festival

1 – Number of princesses who will speak at the DMA to kick off the festival! Tonight, DMA Members can hear a talk by Her Highness Lalla Joumala Alaoui of Morocco, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco to the United States. If you’re not already a DMA Member, join today to experience this special opportunity.

Ewer, Egypt, late 10th–early 11th century, rock crystal, 19th-century gold mount by Jean-Valentin Morel, The Keir Collection of Islamic Art on loan to the Dallas Museum of Art, K.1.2014.1.a–b

Casket, Iran, second half of the 14th century, brass inlaid with silver, The Keir Collection of Islamic Art on loan to the Dallas Museum of Art, K.1.2014.86

The Islamic Art Festival: The Language of Exchange is made possible by Dr. Haroon Rasheed and Mrs. Rania Mohamed. We are also excited to collaborate with the Islamic Art Revival Series, the Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation, the Aga Khan Council for the Central United States, and the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth on several of the programs for the festival. The Keir Collection of Islamic Art is presented by Kosmos Energy.

We look forward to seeing you at the DMA over the next three days!

Stacey Lizotte is Head of Adult Programming and Multimedia Services at the DMA.

Petal Party!

This week we celebrate the birth of two influential artists born 47 years apart. Georgia O’Keeffe (November 15, 1887), the mother of American modernism, and Claude Monet (November 14, 1840), one of the founders of French Impressionist painting, may have practiced different styles, but both shared a love of nature, as can be seen in the vast majority of their paintings. Flowers, in particular, seemed to capture their imaginations!

I am following Nature without being able to grasp her, I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.  —Claude Monet

Water Lilies

Claude Monet, Water Lilies, 1908, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated, 1981.128


I know I cannot paint a flower. I cannot paint the sun on the desert on a bright summer morning but maybe in terms of paint color I can convey to you my experience of the flower or the experience that makes the flower of significance to me at that particular time.
—Georgia O’Keeffe

Yellow Cactus

Georgia O’Keeffe, Yellow Cactus, 1929, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, the Patsy Lacy Griffith Collection, bequest of Patsy Lacy Griffith, © The Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, 1998.217

Stop to smell the roses and help us celebrate these renowned artists by visiting their works for FREE in the DMA’s collection galleries sometime this week!

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

Pronghorn and Bighorn and Anteaters, Oh My!

Classic Mimbres Polychrome bowl, Mogollon Mimbres, 1000–1150, ceramic, slip, and paint, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, anonymous gift. 1988.115.FA

In honor of National Native American Heritage Month, take a closer look at the Mimbres bowls displayed in the DMA’s Native North American galleries on Level 4. I love how Mimbres artists balance color and form in a symmetrical framework, creating dynamic imagery. Geometric motifs, center-oriented designs, and figures add aesthetic interest, but may also function as symbolic clues to Mimbres cosmology and worldview.

The greater Mimbres region (shaded area) and contemporaneous culture areas, page XXII, Brody, J.J. Mimbres Painted Pottery, Rev. ed. Santa Fe: School of American Research Press, 2004.

Mimbres communities settled along the Mimbres and Gila River Valleys in southwestern New Mexico from around 200-1150 C.E. Throughout that time, Mimbres ceramic art underwent several transformations in style and form. Early corrugated wares had grooved, textured surfaces, while red-on-white painted wares eventually transitioned into the black-on-white or polychrome bowls of Classic Mimbres art. These Classic bowls were skillfully fashioned, from their delicately balanced form to their complexly painted designs.

Making a ceramic bowl required a methodical process of gathering and preparing clay. First, the artist removed undesired particles, soaked the clay in water, and kneaded it to remove air pockets. Next, the artist added temper, such as sand, to protect against shrinking or cracking. Attaching coil after coil, the artist created the bowl’s form, while flattening or scraping the sides to obtain a smooth surface. Finally, the artist decorated the interior with a fine, white slip and painted designs with an iron-based paint.

Under high-oxygen firing conditions, the iron in the paint turned a deep red-brown, but in low-oxygen environments, the iron fired gray-black. Many Classic Mimbres bowls have a true black-on-white design, but others show a blending of dark and light red. The color gradation suggests that Mimbres artists may have adjusted firing conditions to achieve visual effects with color.

Among the bowls on display at the DMA are three that feature and blend these styles, motifs, and images in distinct ways. In the Classic Mimbres Black-on-white bowl: three pronghorn, we see how the Mimbres used rotational symmetry to transform a single image into three forms. Mimbres artists frequently created designs that draw the viewer’s eye to the center. In this bowl, the artist rotated three pronghorn antelope around the bowl’s center, which is marked with a triangle defined by empty space. Some scholars suggest a parallel between the way historic and contemporary Pueblo communities organize designs on ceramic vessels. The center-oriented design may refer to the ordering of the universe of divisions between worlds. In another impressive detail, the artist mirrored the spiral-diamond design on the pronghorn’s bodies with the decorative triangles along the bowl’s rim.

In the Classic Mimbres Black-on-white bowl: bighorn sheep, we see a different form of Mimbres symmetry. This bowl shows reflectional and rotational symmetry, as the artist reflected the bighorn over a central horizontal line to face opposite directions. The reflected step motif at the bowl’s center may be the artist’s rendition of the bighorn’s mountain home. The trapezoidal designs that frame the bighorn on either side illustrate the artist’s ability to produce reflectional and rotational symmetry on a smaller scale. The motifs in this bowl are excellent examples of the geometric shapes, fine-line hachure, curved spaces, and framed bands that characterize Mimbres art.

Compared to the other two bowls, the Classic Mimbres Black-on-white bowl: animals, head, and figure has a more free-form style. Here, the artist applied a loose form of reflectional and rotational symmetry, so that each bighorn has a different geometric motif. The paint color, which transitions from red to black, may have special importance. For example, in several Pueblo communities, colors can convey spiritual meaning or be associated with the cardinal directions. As in the other bowls, the artist shows the bighorn, the anteater-like figure, and the small human head in profile. In contrast to the other two examples, the wide, white background places full emphasis on the four colorful figures rotated around the bowl’s center.

Mimbres art draws actively on a close relationship between people and nature. From working the clay to portraying animals that the Mimbres hunted, domesticated, or honored, these exceptional artists of the prehistoric Southwest allow us to envision how past peoples interpreted and interacted with the world.

Danielle Gilbert is the McDermott Graduate Intern for Arts of the Americas at the DMA.


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