Archive for the 'Ancient Art' Category

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).

Cocktail Creations: A Toast to the DMA

The DMA turns 112 this month and we wanted to celebrate with a fun cocktail contest inspired by works of art in our collection, giving our visitors a chance to toast the DMA with their creativity!

LN_CreativeCocktail

We asked visitors to choose a work of art in our collection that inspired them to create a cocktail recipe along with a fun (or even punny) name for the drink. We saw a lot of great submissions from our community of art and alcohol connoisseurs, and with the help of our Executive Chef we have picked a winner and four finalists.

Single snake armlet, 1st century A.D.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, 1991.75.92.1

Single snake armlet, Roman Empire, 1st century A.D., 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, 1991.75.92.1

The winning cocktail, Twisted Serpent, created by Lori Pasillas, was inspired by the single snake armlet in our ancient Mediterranean collection. This drink, made with amaretto, Chambord, club soda, Italian soda, mint leaves, and a twist of orange peel, will be available for purchase at our upcoming Late Night on Friday, January 16.

That night, we will host a Creative Cocktail Lounge in our Founders Room, where you can purchase this winning drink plus the drinks created by the four finalists. While you enjoy these libations, DJ Yeahdef will spin a set of eclectic music.

It was interesting to see that our visitors were inspired by works of art from across our global collection. We had submissions that drew inspiration from our Japanese, decorative arts, ancient American, and contemporary collections, in addition to artworks in our American and European collections.

The works chosen by the four finalists were The Fish and the Man by Charles Webster Hawthorne, Heat Wave-Texas by Coreen Mary Spellman, Still Life by Perry Nichols, and the Miss Blanche armchair by Shiro Kuramata.

 

Miss Blanche chair by Shiro Kuramata, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Caren Prothro, Vincent and Dara Prothro, and Nita and Cullum Clark, and Catherine, Alex, Charlie, Jack, and Will Rose, Lela Rose and Grey, Rosey, and Brandon Jones in honor of Deedie Rose, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund, and Discretionary Decorative Arts Fund, 2012.29.A-E

Miss Blanche chair, Shiro Kuramata, designer; Ishimaru Company Ltd., manufacturer, designed 1988, executed 1989, acrylic, artificial roses, and aluminum with Alumite (anodized) finish, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Caren Prothro, Vincent and Dara Prothro, and Nita and Cullum Clark, and Catherine, Alex, Charlie, Jack, and Will Rose, Lela Rose and Grey, Rosey, and Brandon Jones in honor of Deedie Rose, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund, and Discretionary Decorative Arts Fund, 2012.29.a-e

To find out what drink concoctions these works inspired, visit the Creative Cocktail Lounge this Friday. While you are here, don’t forget to go to Tim Federle’s talk at 7:00 p.m. Tim’s punny cocktail books Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist and Hickory Daiquiri Dock helped inspire this contest and his talk is sure to be fun!

tequilamockingbird

So come and join us in toasting the DMA this Friday!

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

Digging Deep

The DMA recently welcomed Dr. Kimberly L. Jones as the new Ellen and Harry S. Parker III Assistant Curator of the Americas. Uncrated caught up with Dr. Jones to find out more about her job and what’s caught her eye as she explored our galleries.

kimberlyjones

Describe your job as a curator:
For me, being a curator provides the best of all worlds. At the most basic, it entails being in the presence of amazing human achievements on a daily basis. It generally involves engrossing research on such objects, their artisans, and the cultural context in which the materials were created. It means staying informed about ongoing fieldwork and investigations that ever amplify our knowledge of these cultures. As a curator, I have the opportunity to share such fascinating insights with a broad range of people who visit a museum specifically to appreciate and learn about such hallmarks of human ingenuity. Above all else, I see my role as foremost to honor the amazing cultures of our past and present and to instill in others (hopefully) a bit of my passion and enthusiasm for their diverse conceptions and visual manifestations of the world around us.

What might an average day involve?
An average day so far usually includes juggling a few projects, from more immediate to longer-term. It entails basic catalog revisions, research on the collection, e-mails with colleagues and staff, planning for publications and exhibitions, etc.

How would you describe the best part of your job and its biggest challenges?
The best part of my job is sharing the collections and their cultural contexts with others, in any format, from tours to research inquiries to publications. That people become aware of the rich diversity of populations, practices, beliefs, and artworks throughout the Americas is the most inspiring aspect of my role. The biggest challenges (yet perhaps most fruitful exchanges) may come through the developing nature of collections and exhibitions in ancient American art, as museums engage actively in the modern global community and seek growing collaboration among individuals, institutions, and nations.

Growing up, what type of career did you envision yourself in? Did you think you’d work in an art museum?
Prior to the teenage years, I was pretty well geared toward work in archaeology, as my childhood digging in the backyard clay would attest. For graduate studies, I returned to this natural inclination, doing fieldwork for the past ten years in northern Peru. When my graduate advisor predicted a museum curatorial role for me, I dismissed him at the time, unwilling to relinquish my joy of being in the dirt. But I must admit that it is because of my work in archaeology that I feel so dedicated now to work in a museum, to have the opportunity to do best by the material achievements of these past peoples. The objects themselves remain (especially in societies without recognized writing) a crucial primary testament to ancient cultural beliefs, rituals, practices, concepts, materials, and techniques. The global community—individuals and institutions alike—would only benefit from ever-growing collaboration and commitment to ensure the long-standing preservation and public appreciation of such diverse and treasured heritage.

Do you have a favorite work in the DMA’s collection yet?
As any person who works at this institution would likely say, I cannot name one favorite but rather many that provoke that full-body smile. Emma-O in the Asian Galleries is captivating; I am struck always by the Jazz vase in the Decorative Arts Galleries; Shiva Nataraja in the South Asian Galleries harmonizes meaning and form; the cabinet in the Colonial Americas Gallery is an impressive testament to colonial trade; and the sword (telogu) with sheath from Indonesia is just plain fabulous.

As for my area of the Americas, I could not begin to share how many I cherish as masterworks of their respective cultures, exemplifying at times the technical skill and, at others, the creativity of the artisan. As a museum aims to provide for everyone, the more you know of an object—any artwork—often the more fascinating and engaging it becomes. I hope that through tours, gallery talks, invited lectures, and exhibitions, I will get to share my various “favorites” from the Arts of the Americas collection with an avid, interested community.

What are you looking forward to in your future here at the DMA?
Everything!

Plumed Preview

DMA members are able to preview exhibitions before the official openings and this past week our members were able to get a sneak peek at the new exhibition The Legacy of the Plumed Serpent in Ancient Mexico. Below are a few photos from the preview days, be sure to visit the exhibition now through November 25.

Photography by Adam Gingrich, the Marketing Administrative Assistant at the Dallas Museum of Art

Seldom Scene: Load Three Tons and What Do You Get?

We have been receiving and unpacking crates for a couple of weeks in preparation for the opening of The Legacy of the Plumed Serpent in Ancient Mexico on Sunday, July 29. This exhibition contains a number of works weighing hundreds of pounds, including a sculpture of sandaled feet weighing more than three tons, so we brought in some extra equipment and helping hands to assist in the installation process, which you can see below. Join us this Saturday, July 28, for a free sneak peek of the exhibition (normally $14) during the WFAA Family First Day from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

Photography by Adam Gingrich, Administrative Assistant for Marketing and Communications

Birds of a Feather

There is something in human nature that makes people want to show off. Whether it is a new pair of shoes, a nice watch, or a brand new car, we all enjoy the “oohs” and “ahhs” that stylish objects can provoke–and it has been that way for thousands of years. Ancient Peruvian cultures, for example, loved many exotic things, especially the flashy feathers of tropical birds. The collection of the Dallas Museum of Art contains fine examples of the ancient Peruvians’ fascination with birds and their plumage. Hundreds of tropical bird species live in the Amazon rainforest, miles away from the Peruvian coast. It took quite a bit of effort (and riches) to obtain these birds from so far away; therefore, they were considered extremely valuable. Feathers were used as decoration in the form of headdresses, designed collages, and pictorial mosaics.

Panel with rectangles of blue and yellow featherwork, Peru, far south coast, Ocoña Valley, Huari culture, c. A.D. 650-850, feathers (Blue and Gold Macaw), cotton cloth, and camelid fiber cloth, Dallas Museum of Art, Textile Purchase Fund, 2001.262

In this Huari piece, currently on view in Face to Face: International Art at the DMA, blue and yellow feathers are used to create a brilliant geometric composition. The Blue and Yellow Macaw, typically found in Panama and the northern part of South America, was probably the source of the materials, which were used over a thousand years ago. The feathers were individually wrapped in a cotton cord and then attached to a cloth panel, making this a very labor intensive composition. This piece was likely found along Peru’s south coast, in a site with many other textiles and feather pieces stored inside large, decorated ceramic jars. A featherwork like this was probably some kind of religious offering.

A demonstration of feather weaving from "Textiles of Ancient Peru and Their Techniques," Raoul d’Harcourt, 1962.

Featherwork neckpiece, Peru, north coast, Chimú culture, c. A.D. 1470-1528, cotton, feathers, and shell beads, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., 1972.23.1.McD

This brilliantly colored feather neckpiece comes from the Chimú culture, on Peru’s north coast. The meaning of the design is unclear, but there is a human figure with a large headdress, along with fish and sea birds known as cormorants. At the bottom are rows of beads made from spondylus shell, which comes from Ecuador. The bright turquoise feathers in this work probably came from the Spangled Cotinga or the Paradise Tanager, both of which are relatively small birds with vibrant plumage. The darker blue-purple details do not seem to be woven like the other feathers; it is possible that they are from a bird called the Purple Honeycreeper, which is found in several South American locations, but not on the Peruvian coast. This piece showcases materials collected hundreds of miles away from the Chimú area, which is an indication of the power and prestige of the owner of this piece, as well as the intricate trading system that was likely in place.

Spouted vessel with tubular handle: macaw effigy, Peru, north coast, Viru, 300-100 B.C., ceramic and slip, 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, and Mr. and Mrs. John D. Murchison, 1976.W.91

The DMA’s very own mascot, Arturo, provides yet another great example (although slightly less colorful) of just how much ancient American cultures treasured non-native birds. This macaw or parrot vessel was made by the Salinar, a very early culture from Peru’s north coast. Real macaws and parrots are of course brilliantly colored, but ceramics from the north coast were traditionally painted using only red and white, no matter what their subject. Macaws weren’t the only animals that were depicted in vessel form. Ceramics showing monkeys, jaguars, and even killer whales have been found at sites throughout Peru.


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,042 other followers

Twitter Updates

Flickr Photo Stream

More Photos

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,042 other followers