Archive for the 'Collections' Category

Sweet Tooth

In the DMA’s Education Department, we embrace opportunities to refresh our minds and spark our creativity. And when said opportunities happen to present themselves in the form of baked treats, well, you can bet we’re all over it.

So in honor of National Sugar Cookie Day on Saturday, July 9, I whipped up a batch of blank cookie canvases for my colleagues to craft, with one simple caveat: creations must be inspired by works of art at the Museum.

As the frosting settled and the miniature masterpieces took shape, only one question remained—when can we eat!

Sarah Coffey is the Education Coordinator at the DMA.

Faces of America

 America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.
—President Harry S. Truman

This Fourth of July, we celebrate our country’s birth and the individuals who have cultivated it into a mighty nation. We come from many backgrounds, bringing unique perspectives and traditions to this melting pot we call home. Together we make this sweet land of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness a reality.

Happy birthday to the United States of America!

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

Day Break

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Silver Rush

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

 

 

 

DMA BFFs

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

Facto

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

1963.34

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

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

Front

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

1951_108_v02_o4

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

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

1984.174

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

after conservation

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

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

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

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

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

 

Interpreting Batiks

We are looking forward to Waxed: Batiks from Java, which will highlight the DMA’s fabulous collection of Javanese batik textiles later this fall. These works will continue the thread (pun absolutely intended!) of displaying textiles on Level 3; previously, Add to, Take Away: Artistry and Innovation in African Textiles explored textiles across Africa.

Batik is a technique of textile decoration that involves applying wax to a fabric by hand with a canting (wax pen) or a stamp. The fabric is then dyed, but the wax resists dying and creates pattern and decoration in the negative. Although the earliest and most simple batiks involved applying only dots of wax, the process has evolved to yield incredibly detailed and complex designs.

Batik tools, like these wax pens, will also be on display in Waxed.  

Batik tools, like these wax pens, will also be on display in Waxed.

Making a batik requires serious creativity, skill, and time. It took several months to complete a design like this cloud motif. If you look closely, you will notice that each cloud form includes six concentric outlines that shift in tone from a deep blue (the innermost line) to white (the outermost line). In order to achieve the variations in color, the cloth had to be dyed and waxed six separate times.

Wraparound skirt, (kain panjang) [pointed-ends cloud motif (megamenlang), Indonesia: Java, c. 1910, Cotton, commercial dye (?), Textile Purchase Fund, 1991.58

Wraparound skirt (kain panjang) [pointed-ends cloud motif (megamenlang)], Indonesia, Java, c. 1910, cotton and commercial dye (?), Dallas Museum of Art, Textile Purchase Fund, 1991.58

The job of “interpreting” textiles—or presenting them to the public in a way that facilitates understanding, piques interest, invokes appreciation, or inspires curiosity (among other things)—is a unique one. Because textiles are everywhere in our day-to-day lives, from mattresses, to clothes, to carpet and upholstery, it becomes necessary to very clearly convey what makes certain textiles so special. For our Inca exhibition last year, we collaborated with University of North Texas professor Lesli Robertson and the students in her class “Topics in Fiber: Community, Culture, and Art.” They created samples of textiles that reflected the very specific weaving techniques of textiles in the exhibition. We discussed the project in this blog post. These samples were such a success in the exhibition that we wanted to collaborate with our UNT colleagues once again for Waxed.

This time, we will work not only with Lesli and two of her recently graduated students but also with Amie Adelman, UNT professor of fibers, and one of her fall classes. The students will collaborate with DMA staff to design and develop an educational display that presents the steps required to produce complex batik designs. Together, we will further explore batik production in 19th- and 20th-century Java, including specific techniques, tools, colorants, and even wax “recipes.” The students will also have opportunities to visit the Museum’s textile storage and view some of the batiks up close, before they are installed in the galleries. By the fall, the students will produce eight to ten batik samples, each illustrating a different step in the process. By breaking down each individual step, our goal is for visitors to gain a deeper understanding of the extensive time, creativity, and planning involved in producing batik. Visitors will be able to learn from looking at these samples, and also from feeling them and touching the wax applied to the fabric.

Sketch of preliminary ideas for educational display

Sketch of preliminary ideas for educational display

We look forward to working with our friends and colleagues at UNT this summer, and we cannot wait to see what they come up with! Stay tuned for more behind-the-scenes pics of this exciting collaboration!

Andrea Severin Goins is the Head of Interpretation at the DMA.

Wine Not?

Since today is National Wine Day, we’ve created some lovely pairings with a few wine-themed objects in our collection. So, whether you are a fan of red or white, we have something for every palate.

The Eight Immortals of the Wine Cup, Momoyama period, Japan, Ink, Pigment On Gold, Pair Of Six-Fold Screens, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc. 1989.78.A-B.McD

The Eight Immortals of the Wine Cup, Momoyama period, c. 1600,  Japan, ink and pigment on gold; pair of six-fold screens, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc. 1989.78.a-b.McD

From Japan we have The Eight Immortals of the Wine Cup, created around 1600. Although this is a Japanese work, the screen depicts an 8th-century Chinese poem about a group of high-class revelers that included politicians, priests, calligraphers, and musicians. In both China and Japan during this period, wine would have been made from rice. Today, we know this wine as sake. So, grab a glass and read this excerpt from the poem, and maybe you, too, can feel like an immortal.

“Su Jin has made a vow to the Buddha embroidered on his vest
but for his drunkenness he takes care to forget all his rules.

Li Tai-bo drinks a gallon of wine, writes a hundred poems
then sleeps it off in the back of a wine shop in Chang-an
when the emperor asked him to board the royal barge
he shouted back, I am a drunken immortal.”

Black-Figure Krater, Attic, Greece, first half of 6th century B.C.E, ceramic, gift of The Jonsson Foundation and Mr. and Mrs. Frederick M. Mayer, 1972.22

Black-figure krater, Greece, Attic, first half of 6th century B.C.E, ceramic, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of The Jonsson Foundation and Mr. and Mrs. Frederick M. Mayer, 1972.22

You can’t talk about wine without talking about the Greeks. Even though they drank various alcoholic beverages like beer and honey mead, their main drink for a good time was wine. Here we have a black-figure krater made in the first half of the 6th century B.C.E. This piece of pottery would have been used to mix wine with water to dilute it for parties. The figures on the krater are Dionysus, the god of wine, and his followers, the maenads. The maenads were said to have been possessed by Dionysus and his drink, and they were therefore able to perform miracles, like having honey come from the ivy-covered staffs they carried. Dionysus and his maenads would want you to open a bottle of Agiorgitiko, which is a bit like a cabernet sauvignon, but please drink more responsibly than these krater characters.

“Embassy” Shape Wine Glass, Edwin W. Fuerst, Walter Dorwin Teague, Libbey Glass Company, 1939, glass, gift of The Dallas Antiques and Fine Arts Society, 1989.18.2

Embassy shape wine glass, Edwin W. Fuerst and Walter Dorwin Teague, designers; Libbey Glass Company, manufacturer; Toledo, Ohio, designed 1939, glass, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of The Dallas Antiques and Fine Arts Society, 1989.18.2

A wine pairing wouldn’t be complete without a glass to go with it. This is Embassy shape wine glass from 1939 was designed by Edwin W. Fuerst and Walter Dorwin Teague for the Libbey Glass Company. The company was not originally known for its blown glassware. Their beginnings were in lightbulbs and car windshield glass; however, throughout the 20th century they became known for their elegant glassware. In the 1970s, they created the first glass ever to be created through a patented “one piece and blow” technique. Today, this shape of glass with a wide mouth is used mainly to drink chardonnay. Even if you don’t have a glass quite like this one, open a bottle of chardonnay while you appreciate the beautiful Art Deco style of the Embassy shape wine glass .

Bacchic Concert, Pietro Paolini, c. 1625–1630, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Karl and Esther Hoblitzelle Collection, gift of the Hoblitzelle Foundation 1987.17

Pietro Paolini, Bacchic Concert, c. 1625–30, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Karl and Esther Hoblitzelle Collection, gift of the Hoblitzelle Foundation 1987.17

The Italian Renaissance was known for its art, music, and architectural genius. It was also a time of considerable wine consumption. In this painting by Pietro Paolini, we see a fairly mysterious scene with party goers, musicians, and someone dressed as the god Bacchus, the Roman god of wine. This scene is thought to have been from a marriage ceremony, where it was not unusual for the performers to dress as Bacchus and his followers. The image is unusual because the woman on the left has her back toward us and the woman with the lute stares directly at us. But, for today, we will just say that these performers are playing us a little tune to go along with a glass of chianti.

Katie Cooke is the McDermott Intern for Adult Programming and Arts & Letters Live at the DMA.


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