Archive for the 'Collections' Category

On the Road Again

Memorial Day is the holiday that kicks off the travel season.

So whether you are traveling by plane,

Alexander Calder, Model for Flying Colors, 1973, fiberglass and acrylic paint, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Braniff International in memory of Eugene McDermott © Estate of Alexander Calder / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Alexander Calder, Model for Flying Colors, 1973, fiberglass and acrylic paint, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Braniff International in memory of Eugene McDermott, © Estate of Alexander Calder/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

train,

James Welling, Pennsylvania Railroad, 1990, Negative November 2,1990, gelatin silver print on Oriental Seagull photographic paper, Dallas Museum of Art, Director's Enhancement Fund © James Welling

James Welling, Pennsylvania Railroad, 1990, negative November 2, 1990, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, Director’s Enhancement Fund, © James Welling

or automobile

Lee Friedlander, Untitled, 1961, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, Polaroid Foundation grant

Lee Friedlander, Untitled, 1961, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, Polaroid Foundation grant

to places far

Robert Delaunay, Eiffel Tower, 1924, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated © L & M Services B. V., Amsterdam

Robert Delaunay, Eiffel Tower, 1924, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated, © L & M Services B. V., Amsterdam

Florence E. McClung, Torii–Japan, 1959, silkscreen, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Florence E. McClung

Florence E. McClung, Torii–Japan, 1959, silkscreen, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Florence E. McClung

or near

Berenice Abbott, Flatiron Building, 1938, print 1983, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Morton and Marlene Meyerson

Berenice Abbott, Flatiron Building, 1938, print 1983, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Morton and Marlene Meyerson

George Grosz, A Dallas Night, 1952, watercolor on paper, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, anonymous gift of A. Harris and Company in memory of Leon A. Harris, Sr. © Estate of George Grosz/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

George Grosz, A Dallas Night, 1952, watercolor on paper, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, anonymous gift of A. Harris and Company in memory of Leon A. Harris, Sr., © Estate of George Grosz/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

we hope you have a fun and safe summer.

Lynn Lennon, Beach Party, Dallas City Hall, 1984, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, Mr. and Mrs. Homer B. Jester Fund © 1984 Lynn Lennon

Lynn Lennon, Beach Party, Dallas City Hall, 1984, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, Mr. and Mrs. Homer B. Jester Fund, © 1984 Lynn Lennon

Don’t forget to stop by the DMA to cool off all summer long and explore the collection for free!

Kimberly Daniell is the Manager of Communications and Public Affairs at the DMA.

Communicating in Quechua

INCA

Months. It took literally months during the summer of 2014 to decide on the orthography (the correct spelling/writing) for the exhibition Inca: Conquests of the Andes/Los Incas y las conquistas de los Andes, which opened Friday. For example, should the Museum use “Inca” or “Inka,” among other spelling differences that would emerge in the exhibition texts. Many factors weighed into my decision, from popular recognition to modern linguistics, from consistency in labels to proper pronunciation. For the first few months of the exhibition project, I solicited the opinions of many individuals about the issue—from leading pre-Columbian linguists to Inca archaeologists to fellow curators, and even friends and family. I read the most recent publications, edited volumes, scholarly monographs, and online blogs to ascertain the most current opinions. Indeed, I researched, inquired, and deliberated so long that there was general confusion around the DMA itself about the final decision for months after I had finally settled on a position. Mea culpa; thank you to everyone for their kind patience. And I appreciate the generous input from many colleagues on an issue that elicits deep passion and strong opinions from scholars across disciplines.

Quipu (Khipu) fragment with subsidiary cords/Quipu (khipu) parcial con cuerdas afiliadas, Perú: Andean highlands or coast, Inca (Inka) culture, A.D. 1400–1570, cotton and indigo dye, Dallas Museum of Art, the Nora and John Wise Collection, bequest of John Wise, 1983.W.2174

Quipu (Khipu) fragment with subsidiary cords/Quipu (khipu) parcial con cuerdas afiliadas, Peru, Andean highlands or coast, Inca (Inka) culture, A.D. 1400–1570, cotton and indigo dye, Dallas Museum of Art, the Nora and John Wise Collection, bequest of John Wise, 1983.W.2174

The central issue is this: What is the ideal manner—in a US public exhibition context—for writing words from Runasimi, or Quechua, the language used as a lingua franca by the Inca state system and spoken today by many Andean peoples. Prior to the Spanish arrival in the 1530s, the Andean populations did not utilize a recognizable written script, one that the Spanish acknowledged and transcribed into a phonetic alphabet, as certain Spanish chroniclers attempted in New Spain (modern Mexico and Guatemala) with Mayan and Nahua languages. The Andean knotted cords, or quipu (khipu), that recorded information were documented by certain chroniclers in South America, who noted that the quipu were used to register taxes and census data, among other information. The individual Spanish chroniclers further documented Quechua words in the phonetic alphabet and according to Spanish pronunciation, with variant spellings. Certain spellings gained in pronunciation, popular recognition, and adoption into English.

Since the mid-20th century, there have been great efforts to revise the orthography of Andean languages, in particular Runasimi (Quechua), with laws passed in Peru during the late 1970s and early 1980s. The revised orthographies introduced changes such as the reduction from a five-vowel alphabet to a three-vowel system for Quechua. Modern linguists, such as the Peruvian scholar Ramon Cerrón-Palomino, have provided welcome standards for ongoing publication in Inca and Andean studies.

Four-cornered hat/Gorro de cuatro puntas, Peru: south-central highlands or coast, Huari (Wari) culture, A.D. 700–900, camelid fiber, Dallas Museum of Art, The Nora and John Wise Collection, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jake L. Hamon, the Eugene McDermott Family, Mr. and Mrs. Algur H. Meadows and the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated, and Mr. and Mrs. John D. Murchison, 1976.W.2013

Four-cornered hat/Gorro de cuatro puntas, Peru, south-central highlands or coast, Huari (Wari) culture, A.D. 700–900, camelid fiber, Dallas Museum of Art, The Nora and John Wise Collection, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jake L. Hamon, the Eugene McDermott Family, Mr. and Mrs. Algur H. Meadows and the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated, and Mr. and Mrs. John D. Murchison, 1976.W.2013

As an Andean scholar, I had actively used many revised spellings in teaching and coursework, as well as in a recent 2013 exhibition, Between Mountains and Sea: Arts of the Ancient Andes, at the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, Texas. Upon joining the DMA, I had further standardized the terms within the Museum’s database, emphasizing the revised spellings of Wari (for Huari), Tiwanaku (for Tiahuanaco) and Inka (for Inca). With specialization in the cultures of the Formative Period and the north coast of Peru, I confess to addressing only superficially the issue of orthography prior to the DMA exhibition. The spellings of the Cupisnique, Moche, and Chimú—the successive north coast cultures—have remained relatively constant. So I had adopted the basic premise that to utilize the new Quechua spellings was to honor indigenous rights, which aligns well with my role as a researcher of Andean cultural heritage.

Through the months I spent researching, however, the issue became less black and white for this context; it came to include various factors regarding public recognition and spelling consistency through the exhibition design. In the end, the decision to maintain historical spellings as the primary terms in the Inca exhibition likewise presented the wonderful opportunity to introduce an audience to corresponding Quechua spellings. The exhibition Inca: Conquests of the Andes/Los Incas y las conquistas de los Andes thus features not only English and Spanish text but also dual spellings for most Quechua terms. A wall panel explaining the chosen orthography opens the exhibition, providing viewers with an opportunity to consider the complex ways language records, reflects, and defines a historical culture.

Kimberly L. Jones, PhD, is The Ellen and Harry S. Parker III Assistant Curator of the Arts of the Americas at the DMA.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Mirror engraved with flute-player, Etruscan, late 5th-early 4th century B.C, bronze, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association purchase, Edwin J. Kiest Memorial Fund 1966.7

Mirror engraved with flute-player, Etruscan, late 5th-early 4th century B.C,, bronze, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association purchase, Edwin J. Kiest Memorial Fund, 1966.7

Mirrors were present throughout different ancient civilizations such as the Egyptian, Greek, and Etruscan, and were luxury items primarily associated with women. Additionally, a mirror was an object of profound symbolic significance, as it was considered to be a receptacle for the soul of the person whose image was reflected on its surface. The Etruscan word hinthial means both “soul” and “reflected image.” This dual concept relates to the ancient Egyptian word ankh, which means “life,” but also denotes the image of a mirror. In relation to the idea of life, many mirrors have been retrieved from the graves of Etruscan women, indicating both their desire to take earthly possessions of value into the next world and their need to not leave behind the device that contained their souls.

Mary Cassatt, Woman with Mirror, n.d., ink, paper, etching, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts, The Alfred and Juanita Bromberg Collection, bequest of Juanita K. Bromberg 2000.255.FA

Mary Cassatt, Woman with Mirror, n.d., etching, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts, The Alfred and Juanita Bromberg Collection, bequest of Juanita K. Bromberg, 2000.255.FA

In the 19th century, women and mirrors were painted frequently by the French impressionists. Mary Cassatt, an American expatriate artist, used them as a possible motif for the vanity of women and the pleasure received when looking at one’s own reflection. Simultaneously, the viewer’s passive activity turns into an active interpretation of “reality” based on the power of paintings to construct reality. Such issues raise open-ended questions around the topics of female empowerment and physical subjugation: Are female subjects denied their own agency when viewed by an oppressive male gaze? Or do they become autonomous beings that exert physical potency and awareness by deliberately looking into their own selves?

Ivan Le Lorraine Albright, Into the World Came a Soul Called Ida, c. 1929, lithograph, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase 1947.18

Ivan Le Lorraine Albright, Into the World Came a Soul Called Ida, c. 1929, lithograph, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase, 1947.18

With the advent of modernity, critical philosophers and thinkers developed new theoretical forms to describe psychoanalytic experience during the 20th century. Most notably, French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan is attributed with the concept of the “mirror stage.” This theory proposes that human infants go through a stage in which an external image of the body (reflected in a mirror, or represented to the infant through the mother or primary caregiver) produces a psychic response that gives rise to the mental representation of an “I.” Such precarious observations begin to interrogate the ideas of “self,” “self-identity,” and the “ego” at an early stage of life. This brings into discussion the notion of “reality” and the existential gestalt that relates to elements that correspond to individual experience and personal being.

Ryan Trecartin, (Tommy-Chat Just E-mailed Me), 2006, video, Courtesy of Andrea Rosen Gallery, © New York Ryan Trecartin

Ryan Trecartin, (Tommy-Chat Just E-mailed Me), 2006, video, Courtesy of Andrea Rosen Gallery, © New York Ryan Trecartin

On view through December 6, 2015, and included in free general admission, Concentrations 59: Mirror Stage— Visualizing the Self After the Internet explores themes of personal identity and “self” in the 21st century cyberworld. Consisting of eight different contemporary multimedia artists, Mirror Stage encapsulates the heterogeneous nature of visual Internet culture and its complex development since the dot-com era. Ryan Trecartin’s (Tommy-Chat Just E-mailed Me) (2006) is situated on the inside and outer liminal space of an e-mail conversation as it emphasizes the paradoxical role of online communication as a unifying digital tool, while revealing the effect of an impending, manic social isolation on its users in the offline “real” world.

Historically, mirrors were regarded as a tool for truth and recognition through the reflection of one’s personal appearance. After centuries of being associated with femininity and the female body, the concept of a mirror as a “screen” has drastically changed with the emergence of modern technology. Online Internet resources, including social websites and gaming platforms, have enabled Internet users to create new forms of identity that break with the historical past of mirrors as a conveyor of truth. Are we ready to adopt multiple, complex identities offline in the real world as well as in the online world? What will be the future resources for affirming one’s own personal identity within the (cyber)world? Mirror Stage—Visualizing the Self After the Internet invites the viewer to question, explore, and reflect on the new forms of presenting oneself within the digital age.

 Fabian Leyva-Barragan is the McDermott Curatorial Intern for Contemporary Art at the DMA.

Sources: de Grummond, N. T., ed. A Guide to Etruscan Mirrors, Tallahassee, Fla: Archaeological News, 1982; Lacan, Jacques. “The Mirror Stage as Formative of the Function of the I as Revealed in Psychoanalytic Experience.” Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Norton, 1977).

May the Art Be with You

It is a little known fact that the DMA is a favorite art spot for those from a galaxy far, far away. This May 4th we spotted Princess Leia and Darth Vader roaming the DMA—without light sabers, as they aren’t permitted in the galleries—checking out some of their favorites in the collection. May the fourth be with you!

DSC_0016 DSC_0017_2  DSC_0006_2 DSC_0009

I am your father:
This #MayThe4thBeWithYou photo shoot took place on “Take Your Child To Work” day, so Darth Vader’s daughter joined in on the fun.

DSC_0011_2 FullSizeRender

Kimberly Daniell is the Manager of Communications and Public Affairs and Jessica Fuentes is the Center for Creative Connections Gallery Coordinator at the DMA.

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.

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.


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