Archive for the 'Collections' Category

Window Gazing

Art collector and longtime DMA supporter Dorace Fichtenbaum left a generous bequest of 138 objects to the Museum. We installed a selection of these works of art, selected by curators Olivier Meslay and Gavin Delahunty, to celebrate the extraordinary personality of their collector, who died last summer.

As an exhibition designer, I was struck by Ms. Fichtenbaum’s singular vision in her collecting practice, one that was defined by personal preference and spread over multiple genres. Her worldliness comes across in the breadth of the collection, which ranged from Abstract Expressionist prints to carved African figures. This juxtaposed style, once installed all together in her home, reminded me of Alfred Barnes’ manner of collecting for what is now the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. Like Dr. Barnes, Dorace Fichtenbaum included in her collection new works by the  contemporary artists of her time, including Yayoi Kusama and Nam June Paik, among others. In my efforts to design a space to do justice to this special gift, I was inspired by the collector’s manner of dense display in her home.

Image 1 copy

My idea for the space was to create intriguing sightlines that invite visitors inside, and also distinguish this gallery within the larger Barrel Vault area of the Museum, which is installed with other works from the permanent collection. To accomplish this, we created a gray foyer-like space to temper the disconnect between the interior installation and the large exterior white gallery. The central sightline when looking into the gallery is a window that provides a key vantage point into the collection installed on the far wall. A framed door on either side of the window asks visitors to engage in the space and treat it as a more intimate interior space, much like you would find in someone’s home.

That space uses color and architectural trim to distinguish it, and to suggest a domestic interior. A classic salon-style hanging of the artworks allows for aesthetic relationships to form easily between the works that are hung on one surface and use the full height of the wall. This type of “hang,” as we call the installation of artworks on a wall, is special in that it includes three-dimensional works mounted on the wall or displayed in museum casework.

To maintain a consistency with these design concepts, no museum labels have been installed in the space; however, there is much contextual information on the collection and on each individual piece in the “label” booklets we provide. The booklets use a diagram of the installation with numbered elements so that visitors can refer to individual objects.

Our skilled team of preparators installed the works based on this detailed diagram.

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As Olivier Meslay wrote in his article for the DMA Member magazine, Artifacts, “The walls and shelves of Dorace’s home were full of remarkable works that will now grace ours. Dallas is fortunate to have had a collector like her: generous, modest, tasteful, and passionate.”

Skye Malish-Olson is the Exhibition Designer at the DMA.

Creative Connections: West Meets East

This week the DMA’s Center for Creative Connections installed three prints by Hiroshi Yoshida, a significant figure in the history of Japanese woodblock printmaking. Yoshida was part of an early 20th-century movement that found renewed interest in traditional Japanese art forms and culture. This mindset was exemplified by his practice of the traditional ukiyo-e collaborative system (which relied on a division of labor for each step of the printmaking process), his subject matter, and his dedication to using locally sourced and crafted tools and materials. Hiroshi Yoshida was a prolific artist, but his legacy lives on beyond the art he created. He was also part of a family of printmakers. Beginning with his adoptive parents, the lineage is as follows:

yoshida family tree

Following Hiroshi’s death in 1950, his sons Toshi and Hodaka both began to experiment artistically. Toshi created prints of African wildlife, while Hodaka moved toward abstraction. Both artists are represented in the Museum’s collection, though their work is currently not on view.

Hodaka Yoshida, Ancient People B, 1956, woodcut, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase 1957.17; Toshi Yoshida, Ishiyama Temple, n.d., polychrome woodblock print, Dallas Museum of Art, the Abram C. Joseph and Ruth F. Ring Collection, gift of Miss Ruth F. Ring 1985.87

Hodaka Yoshida, Ancient People B, 1956, woodcut, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase, 1957.17; Toshi Yoshida, Ishiyama Temple, n.d., polychrome woodblock print, Dallas Museum of Art, the Abram C. Joseph and Ruth F. Ring Collection, gift of Miss Ruth F. Ring, 1985.87

In the early 1970s, Daryl Howard, a Texan living and teaching art at an overseas school in Tokyo, accepted an apprenticeship with Hodaka Yoshida. During her time studying with Hodaka, Howard learned traditional Japanese woodblock printmaking techniques and acquired a personal collection of prints and printmaking tools. Howard, who has since returned to Austin, has teamed up with the DMA to assist with educational initiatives related to the Hiroshi Yoshida prints. Howard has loaned a collection of traditional Japanese woodblock printmaking tools— including carving tools, brushes, paper, a baren, and a small printmakers table—to accompany the three prints.

Printmaking Tools

Daryl Howard (left) and a woodprint piece she created.

Daryl Howard (left) and a woodblock print she created

Meet Daryl Howard this May and learn more about the Yoshida family, Japanese woodblock printmaking, and her own art and process.

  • Friday, May 20
    • Late Night Art Bytes: Woodblock Printmaking
      8:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m., Tech Lab, C3
      Join artist Daryl Howard for this hands-on art-making experience and create an image in the technique of Japanese woodblock printmaking. Ink a block and pull your own print. Space is limited; sign up 30 minutes prior to workshop to reserve a spot.
      Included in Late Night ticket
    • Late Night Art Bytes: New Technology, Ancient Artform
      9:00–9:45 p.m., C3 Theater
      After 30 years of woodcarving, printmaker Daryl Howard has shifted to a new method to achieve the same end result. Hear her speak about how modern technology has affected the ancient art form of Japanese woodblock printmaking.
      Included in Late Night ticket
  • Saturday, May 21
  • Wednesday, May 25
    • Gallery Talk: West Meets East . . . A One-Year Journey with the Yoshida Family
      12:15 p.m., Meet at Visitors Service Desk
      Hiroshi Yoshida was the most accomplished Shin-Hanga woodblock printmaker of his time. Printmaker Daryl Howard will share a brief history of Japanese woodblock printmaking and the amazing Yoshida family.
      Included in free general admission

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

Family Ties: Making Connections in Pueblo Pottery

In 2014, the DMA acquired a large collection of contemporary southwest Native American ceramics, the gift of Dr. and Mrs. Robert I. Kramer. The collection consists of works by over 65 contemporary artists, many of whom have been honored at prestigious art shows such as the Santa Fe Indian Market.

Many of these vessels were created by two artists—a potter and a painter—who worked together on the final design, form, and decoration. Pottery making is an engaging social activity for family members or close friends, and in many of the Pueblos, the legacy of fine pottery can be traced to an individual or a family. Maria Martinez of San Ildefonso and her family were instrumental in furthering the millennia-old tradition of pottery making during a time of cultural and artistic transition due to the newly established railroad in Santa Fe, which brought the tourist trade, manufactured goods, and a market economy to the Pueblos.

Maria Martinez and Julian Martinez, Black-on-black jar with geometric designs, c. 1920, Dallas Museum of Art, The Otis and Velma Davis Dozier Fund, 2014.26.3

Maria Martinez and Julian Martinez, Black-on-black jar with geometric designs, c. 1920, ceramic, Dallas Museum of Art, The Otis and Velma Davis Dozier Fund, 2014.26.3

Made in collaboration with her husband, this black-on-black jar with Julian’s expertly painted abstract and geometric designs was a typical form for Maria Martinez, illustrating her artistic departure from traditional forms. While reminiscent of larger ollas, this piece has a more elongated and gently sloping neck and a stouter base, producing a sharper shoulder. Its smaller size also made it more appealing to early 20th-century tourists and collectors, as it could be acquired at a lower price and was easier to transport. The nearly metallic sheen alludes to their son Popovi Da’s later innovation, a gunmetal finish he developed in the 1960s by increasing the firing time of the black-on-black method perfected by Maria and Julian.

Maria Martinez and Santana Martinez, Plate with avanyu design, 1943-1956, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Duncan E. Boeckman, 1987.343.FA

Maria Martinez and Santana Martinez, Plate with avanyu design, 1943-1956, ceramic, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Duncan E. Boeckman, 1987.343.FA

If you’ve visited the Native American Gallery on Level 4, you might have seen other exceptional works by the Martinez family. This plate made by Maria and her daughter-in-law Santana highlights the avanyu design created in the early 20th century by Julian Martinez. It was based on depictions occurring on rock art near springs and on ancient vessels. The avanyu is a water deity who, if angered, can cause floods, droughts, landslides, or earthquakes. Representing a thunderstorm and surrounded by clouds, this horned serpent has an undulating body and a tongue reminiscent of a lightning bolt.

Marvin and Frances Martinez, Black-on-black bowl with feather motif, late 20th century, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Dr. and Mrs. Robert I. Kramer, 2014.43.63, not currently on view

Marvin and Frances Martinez, Black-on-black bowl with feather motif, late 20th century, ceramic, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Dr. and Mrs. Robert I. Kramer, 2014.43.63 (not currently on view)

This small pot from the Kramer collection further demonstrates familial collaborations and traditional forms. It was made by the husband and wife team of Marvin and Frances Martinez. Marvin is the grandson of Adam and Santana Martinez and the great-grandson of Maria and Julian. The bowl exhibits the signature black-on-black style for which Maria and her family are so well known and bears a stylized butterfly design and the familiar feather pattern drawn from ancient Mimbres vessels in the early 20th century.

The DMA has a comparable Mimbres vessel with a radiating feather pattern currently on view:

Mogollon (Mimbres) Culture, Bowl with geometric composition and design of radiating feathers, c. 1000-1150, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Elizabeth and Duncan Boeckman, 2011.45

Mogollon (Mimbres) culture, Bowl with geometric composition and design of radiating feathers, c. 1000-1150, ceramic and slip paints, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Elizabeth and Duncan Boeckman, 2011.45

Across the gallery from the Mimbres bowl is another example of the radiating feather motif, a plate made by Maria and her son Popovi Da in the 1960s:

Maria Martinez and Popovi Da, Plate with radiating feather design, 1960s, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, anonymous gift, 1987.342.FA

Maria Martinez and Popovi Da, Plate with radiating feather design, 1960s, ceramic, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, anonymous gift, 1987.342.FA

Maria began collaborating with her son in 1956. Popovi Da was an artist in his own right, adding many creative innovations to the Martinez family tradition such as a dual-toned black-and-sienna finish and the use of turquoise.

The DMA is fortunate to have the opportunity to make these fun and fascinating connections between families of artists.

 Amanda Kramp is the McDermott Graduate Intern for Ancient American Art at the DMA.

Mother of Dragons

In anticipation of the airing of the sixth season of Game of Thrones, we asked the DMA’s “Mother of Dragons,” curator Anne Bromberg, to share the history of dragons and the many ways they are represented in the Museum’s collection. 

People all over the world have imagined dragons—horned, winged, and fire-spitting serpents—as powerful spirit figures, capable of both helping humans and killing them. Since actual snakes shed their old skins and appear to be newborn periodically, dragons were thought to be deathless. They were also usually considered to be both male and female in one body and thus were spirits of fertility.

Dragon eyes were thought to be translucent jewels, as they reflected the light of the moon and stars. Often these eyes were called pearls. As part of the natural forces in the world, dragons were associated with both earth and water; hence they represented the four basic elements: earth, air, fire, and water.

Stories about dragons appear in some of the earliest religious texts, both in Near Eastern kingdoms and early Greece and in the Hindu Upanishads. The Greeks called dragons Ouranos, the Heavens, who is both child and husband of Gaea, the Earth Mother. A form of dragon is notable in pre-Columbian religions as the feathered serpent, and in China and Japan as an imperial symbol. In India the dragon figure became the seven-headed cobra Naga king, while gods like Vishnu are associated with sacred serpents. Famous stories related to dragons include the Greek hero Perseus saving Andromeda from a sea monster and, in Christianity, St. George killing an evil dragon.

An interesting note on dragons is that early mankind, who imagined winged serpents, considerably anticipated modern science, which describes how birds descended from dinosaurs. The word dinosaur means “terrible reptile.”

Vase, n.d., Japan, gold lacquer, silver, gold foil, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, The John R. Young Collection, gift of M. Frances and John R. Young 1993.86.41.FA

Vase, Japan, n.d., gold lacquer, silver, and gold foil, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, The John R. Young Collection, gift of M. Frances and John R. Young, 1993.86.41.FA

Several vases in the DMA’s Young Collection of Meiji period decorative arts represent dragons as part of the design. Although most of the Young Collection works were made for the export market to Europe or America, the nature of these dragons is derived from Chinese art. On the neck of this handsome vase, the main scene of which shows a typically Japanese landscape scene, a sinuous dragon curves around, as if waiting to ambush its victims. The silver dragon is the classical curving winged figure, with gaping jaws and large claws.

Takenouchi no Sukune Meets the Dragon King of the Sea, Designer: Sanseisha Company, Meiji Period (1868-1912), 1879–1881, bronze and glass, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, The John R. Young Collection, gift of M. Frances and John R. Young 1993.86.11.FA

Takenouchi no Sukune Meets the Dragon King of the Sea, Sanseisha Company, designer, Meiji period, 1879–1881, bronze and glass, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, The John R. Young Collection, gift of M. Frances and John R. Young, 1993.86.11.FA

Takenouchi no Sukune Meets the Dragon King of the Sea is the most striking work in the Young Collection of Meiji period Japanese arts. These works were made for export to Europe and America and were deliberately made in styles that would appeal to the market for Japanese work. Here the Japanese warrior hero Takenouchi no Sukune is being rewarded by the Dragon King of the Sea, whom he has helped. An emissary of the king, accompanied by an attendant who appears as part human-part sea monster, offers the Jewel of the Tides to the warrior. It resembles a pearl, recalling that dragon eyes were imagined as jewels or pearls.

The base of the work is like a sea shore, with a rocky strand covered with crabs, snails, and terrapins. The under support is raised on sea dragon feet. The artist has brilliantly imagined a folk tale as a grand dramatic scene.

Dragon finial, 15th–17th century, Thailand, bronze, Intended bequest of David T. Owsley PG.2007.57

Dragon finial, Thailand, 15th–17th century, bronze, Intended bequest of David T. Owsley, PG.2007.57

In Southeast Asia, where kings in Cambodia and Thailand often identified themselves with Hindu or Buddhist deities, dragons were considered beneficent beings, powerful, but protective of the king and his people. Upper-class palanquins (carrying chairs) were ornamented with various auspicious images, including dragons. This example is a fine piece of craftsmanship that suggests the nature of dragons as beautiful, sinuous figures, with the fierce jaws of a killer but also the grace of a winged serpent. The Hindu Naga serpent-king is adapted to the finely detailed bronze work of the Thai kingdoms.

Finial: Dragon head, Iran, Seljuk period, 11th–14th century, bronze, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase 1963.24

Finial: dragon head, Iran, Seljuk period, 11th–14th century, bronze, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase, 1963.24

This ferocious looking dragon head from Iran is another example of using popular spirit imagery to ornament furniture and other useful objects. The dragon’s jaw gapes wide, showing sharp teeth and suggesting the fire that dragons were believed to spit. Religious imagery in ancient civilizations was as much about nature as mankind, since people were very dependent on the natural world for food, clothing, and building materials. The early Persians, as well as the Greeks and many peoples, projected their fears and hopes onto spirits that, like dragons, embody the power and violence of nature, as well as showing protective qualities.

Shiva Nataraja, India, Chola dynasty, 11th century, bronze, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mrs. Eugene McDermott, the Hamon Charitable Foundation, and an anonymous donor in honor of David T. Owsley, with additional funding from The Cecil and Ida Green Foundation and the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund 2000.377

Shiva Nataraja, India, Chola dynasty, 11th century, bronze, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mrs. Eugene McDermott, the Hamon Charitable Foundation, and an anonymous donor in honor of David T. Owsley, with additional funding from The Cecil and Ida Green Foundation and the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund, 2000.377

The great god Shiva was associated with serpent dragons, as you see in this great sculpture, where the god wears snake bracelets; however, Shiva is far more closely related to dragons than his ornaments indicate. In his cosmic form as Nataraja, the divine dancer, Shiva is encircled with flames. As the lord of life, death, and rebirth, he symbolizes creation, destruction, and ongoing life, as dragons were thought to do. In many ways, Lord Shiva was himself a dragon. The circle of flames surrounding him and the fire he holds in his hand represent death and the burial ground, but also pulse with continuing life. Like dragons, Shiva is a god of fertility. His hair is the eternal waters of Mother Ganges. The drum he carries holds the music of life. Again like dragons, he can bring both disaster and new birth.

Blue Five-Clawed Dragon Robe, late 19th century, China, , silk, metal-wrapped yarn, Dallas Museum of Art, anonymous gift in honor of Joe B. Blakey 1981.6

Blue five-clawed dragon robe, China, late 19th century, China, silk and metal-wrapped yarn, Dallas Museum of Art, anonymous gift in honor of Joe B. Blakey, 1981.6

As symbols of prosperity and power, dragons in China became particularly associated with the Chinese emperor and his relatives and associates. This fine silk and metallic robe is one of several garments at the DMA that exemplify such Chinese taste. The dragons here are particularly charming and attractive, as they curl around, rather like superior pets. Another Chinese belief was that dragons could shrink themselves to the size of silk worms or blow themselves to the size of a thunderstorm. As in other cultures, Chinese dragons represented the four elements of earth, air, fire, and water.

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, 1971.83

German artist Albrecht Dürer’s image of St. George shows the hero as he has just slain an evil dragon. European Christians believed in the monstrous character of dragons, unlike the favorable idea you find in Greece, India, or China; however, in another way St. George is the successor of a Greek hero like Perseus, who also killed vicious dragons. In Christianity, a dragon was seen as an aspect of satan. In Dürer’s powerful scene, St. George seems to have effortlessly crushed the fallen dragon.

Figure of a Chimera (mythical beast), Han, China, 25–220 C.E., earthenware and paint, Dallas Museum of Art, anonymous gift 1995.66

Figure of a chimera (mythical beast), China, 25–220 C.E., earthenware and paint, Dallas Museum of Art, anonymous gift, 1995.66

An imaginary animal closely related to dragons is the chimera, a vision that first appeared in central Asia, but was to become popular from Europe to China, thanks to trade along the Silk Road. The chimera combines lion, goat, and snake features. Like dragons, it spits unquenchable fire, and can destroy people or bring them good fortune. In China it became, like dragons, an image of prosperity and power.

Buddha Muchalinda, Cambodia, Khmer empire, late 12th–early 13th century, copper alloy, Dallas Museum of Art, the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund 2005.3.A-C

Buddha Muchalinda, Cambodia, Khmer empire, late 12th–early 13th century, copper alloy, Dallas Museum of Art, the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund, 2005.3.a-c

In this fine Cambodian image, the Buddha is shown meditating before he achieved enlightenment. According to a story of this time in the Buddha’s life, a demon of ignorance tried to prevent him from reaching the Dharma by raising the waters of the lake where he sat until they drowned him. But the Buddha-to-be was protected by the holy Naga serpent king, who lifted the Buddha up and saved his life. This image of the Buddha protected by the Naga serpent (as a seven-headed cobra) was to become one of the most popular Buddhist icons.

Helmet mask (komo), mid–20th century, wood, glass, animal horns, fiber, and mirrors, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of David T. Owsley 1997.24

Helmet mask (komo), Mali and Cote d’Ivoire, mid-20th century, wood, glass, animal horns, fiber, and mirrors, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of David T. Owsley, 1997.24

Masks like this were used among the Senufo and the neighboring Bamana people by high-ranking members of the men’s powerful Komo association, which was responsible for maintaining social, spiritual, and economic harmony. The added female figure may refer to Senufo women as diviners. The fearsome image, with its sharp teeth and jutting animal horns and tusks, projects terror. Glass eyes and reflective mirrors add a sense of supernatural force.

Dr. Anne R. Bromberg is The Cecil and Ida Green Curator of Ancient and Asian Art at the DMA.

But Clouds Got in My Way

While browsing our online collection for a project, I entered the word “cloud” into the search field. I was surprised by how many works of art in our collection had cloud connections, either as part of the work’s title or featured in the work itself. As I was looking through the images, I kept hearing Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now playing in my head. Go ahead and give it a listen as you look at just a few of the clouds in our collection.

 

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

Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beer Holder

Twist and STOUT! Thursday is National Beer Day, so why not start the celebration early? We’ve got the cure for whatever may ALE you. After all, it’s no coincidence that beer rhymes with cheer! The words may be different, but the meaning is the same, whether you say gān bēi, Sláinte, Gesondheid, or bottoms up, cheers is cheers! So here’s to you and here’s to me—grab a cold one and check out these drinking accessories from around the world.

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

Artful DIY April Fool’s Day

In honor of April Fool’s Day, here is a high-brow idea for pranking the art-lover in your life.

Salvador Dalí, Lobster Telephone (Téléphone – Homard), 1936, steel, plaster, rubber, resin, and paper, Tate Acquisition Purchased 1981 Reference T03257, © Salvador Dali, Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation/DACS, London 2016

Tape a toy crustacean to a co-worker’s office phone to imitate Salvador Dali’s Lobster Telephone. It’s guaranteed to be a surreally good joke!

lobster

Happy pranking!

Emily Wiskera is the McDermott Graduate Intern for Family and Access Teaching at the DMA.


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