Archive for the 'Contemporary Art' Category

Contemporary Additions

With 93 exhibitors, the 2018 Dallas Art Fair left no dearth of fantastic work to purchase through the Dallas Art Fair Foundation Acquisition program. For the Dallas Art Fair’s 10th anniversary, and the third year the DMA has participated in this exciting partnership, the contemporary collection gained eight new works by seven artists. This year, perhaps more than ever, we are reminded how much representation matters. The curatorial team (Anna Katherine Brodbeck, me, and the McDermott Intern for Contemporary Art Elise Armani), under the leadership of our Director, Agustín Arteaga, used the funds this year to select works that further diversify the contemporary collection. The artists range in age and background as well as the variety of mediums that they use.

Brie Ruais’s large wall-based ceramic was created from the same amount of clay as the artist’s own body weight. In her process-driven practice, Ruais spreads and molds the clay with her hands and feet, marks still evident once the pieces are partially glazed and fired. The DMA’s holdings in contemporary ceramics do not quite reflect the multitude of ceramic work being produced today, and we felt that this work was a striking addition to demonstrate the use of the medium expanded beyond traditional forms.

Brie Ruais, Broken Ground Red (130 lbs of clay spread out from center), 2017. Courtesy of the artist and Albertz Benda [image source: brieruais.com].

In Sanford Biggers’s Sirroco from 2016, the artist repurposes an antique quilt to use as the substrate of this incredible painting. Interested in the inherent geometry and varying textures of the quilts, Biggers references a historical, though unproven, narrative that on the Underground Railroad quilts were used as signposts to guide escaping slaves. Sanford Biggers is a cousin of the painter John Biggers (1924-2001), who is already represented in the DMA’s collection. Acquiring Sanford Biggers’s work provides a great opportunity to explore artistic lineages and make connections between generations.

Sanford Biggers, Sirroco, 2016. Courtesy of Massimo De Carlo Milan | London |Hong Kong [image source: massimodecarlo.com].

This was also the first year we purchased from a local gallery, and we were pleased to select Alicia Henry’s mixed-media work Untitled, 2017, from Liliana Bloch Gallery here in Dallas. In this portrait of a man, Henry uses stitched thread and ink to comment on identity and notions of beauty. Some of the marks appear, hauntingly, like scars and allude to some form of violence previously endured. With this truly powerful work, we further expand our holdings by contemporary African American artists.

Alicia Henry, Untitled, 2017. Courtesy of the artist and Liliana Bloch Gallery [image source: lilianablochgallery.com].

In addition to the works above, we are pleased to have also acquired Matthew Ronay’s sculpture Condition, 2018; Tony Lewis’s drawing Nes, 2018; two gelatin silver prints from Geraldo de Barros’s series Fotoformas Sao Paulo, 1949/2008; and Shara Hughes’s painting Gusto, 2018. It is difficult not to write about every work since they all bring something unique to the conversation. I encourage anyone interested in these acquisitions to visit the gallery websites to learn more about the artists.

Thank you to the generous donors to the Dallas Art Fair Foundation Acquisition program for their time and enthusiasm in making these acquisitions happen!

Chelsea Pierce is the Curatorial Administrative Assistant for Contemporary Art at the DMA.

Some Truths on Time-Based Media

Truth: 24 frames per second is the DMA’s first exhibition dedicated to time-based media and showcases many works from the Museum’s growing collection. But what is time-based media and why is it relevant? How do we experience it (and don’t forget you can experience it for free for the final week! The exhibition is on view through January 28)?

Time-Based Media (TBM) refers to works of art that have a fourth-dimension: time. Any artwork that changes meaningfully over a period of time can be considered TBM. Typically, TBM works are made using video, sound, film or slide-based installations, or computer technologies. As a viewer, a key aspect of experiencing TBM is observing it over time.

Nam June Paik, Music Box Based on Piano Piece Composed in Tokyo in 1954, 1994, Vintage TV cabinet, Panasonic 10 TV model 1050R, Panasonic mini video camera, incandescent light bulb and 144-note music box mechanism, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Dorace M. Fichtenbaum 2015.48.113

Beginning in the 1960s with the invention of the portapak (the first portable video equipment), artists who were losing interest in material objects turned to video and sound. Experimental artists like Nam June Paik, Wolf Vostell, and Joan Jonas were attracted to the transitory, immaterial qualities of sound and the moving image and the medium quickly spread.

TBM was viewed as an egalitarian art form, due to the medium’s relative affordability as well as its unchartered nature. Because TBM was not initially considered by art historians to be a valid art form, artists considered it a “founding father free zone,” where there was no canon against which to be measured. Video art, in particular, was used by many artists involved in social movements. Through its capability for wide distribution, video art offered opportunities for raising consciousness through documenting injustices and representing communities previously under or misrepresented. In Truth: 24 frames per second, Arthur Jafa’s work, Love Is the Message, the Message is Death, speaks poignantly to the role of media and representation in contemporary society.

Arthur Jafa, Love Is the Message, the Message Is Death, 2016, HD video, color and black and white, sound, 7:30 min., Courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown’s enterprise, NY

Unsurprisingly, over the following decades TBM works have evolved in step with technology. Contemporary artists produce TBM works with everything from cellphone footage to crowd sourced YouTube clips. One example of the influence of technological advance on TBM is Western Flag (Spindletop, Texas), a work by John Gerrard in the exhibition. Though it presents as a video, Gerrard’s work is actually an eternally generating digital portrait coded to change in response to the time of day and year in Spindletop, Texas. As the sun sets and rises in Spindletop, Gerrard’s software mimics the change of light in on the screen.

Because of its reliance on technology, TBM presents unique challenges to museums who collect it. Most works are allographic in nature, meaning they only exist when installed and functioning, and each time they are installed can be considered an iteration of the work. As a result, there are conceptual considerations as to where, how, and with what technology individual works can be realized. TBM also presents complex challenges to conservators, who are tasked with considering and combating issues such as technological obsolescence, digital preservation, and even broken hyperlinks.

John Gerrard, Western Flag (Spindletop Texas), 2017, 2017, simulation, Courtesy the artist and Simon Preston Gallery, New York & Thomas Dane Gallery, London

TBM works can be intimidating to engage with, but one important thing to realize is that you don’t need to be present for the duration of the work to experience it. If a work catches your attention, stick around for it to restart and watch it in entirety. Wall labels include a run time, noting how frequently each work repeats. The ideal way to experience an exhibition like Truth: 24 frames per second is to see it multiple times in order to engage with the works at different moments. But hurry in, because the exhibition closes this Sunday, January 28.

Elise Armani is the McDermott Intern for Contemporary Art at the DMA

Making a List and Checking It Twice—A Day in the Life of a Registrar

UPDATE: Yayoi Kusama: All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins has been extended and will now close on April 29, 2018!

The DMA recently installed Yayoi Kusama’s All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins (2016), one of the artist’s immersive Infinity Mirror Rooms. As its name suggests, the room features pumpkin lanterns that are reflected in mirrored panels, creating the illusion that they continue into infinity. The effect is both intimate (a maximum of two guests may enter at a time) and mesmerizing.

Yayoi Kusama, All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins, 2016, wood, mirror, plastic, acrylic, LED, Courtesy Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo / Singapore and Victoria Miro, London, © Yayoi Kusama

A lot of planning takes place behind the scenes before works of art go on view to the public. That is where registrars (like me) come into play! Registrars (also sometimes called Collections Managers) are responsible for both the logistics and physical care of art as well as collection-related documentation.

For most exhibitions or rotations of works of art in the galleries, we’re working with multiple pieces that come together as a group; however, with installation art like Kusama’s, we need to keep track of all the details and components that make up the piece as a whole. For this project, it meant coordinating the safe transportation of the many room components and the 62 pumpkins that go into the space once constructed.

First, we double-checked that everything traveled according to the packing list and carefully examined every single pumpkin to ensure they were ready for installation. These condition reports are like an artwork’s health chart. It’s an important ongoing part of our job because a condition report records the object information (also known as tombstone data), a general description or photo of the artwork (or pumpkin in this case!), and, most importantly, a detailed summary of the overall appearance and condition at a specific point in time.

In the months leading up to install, registrars collaborate with team members in other departments to finalize the gallery layout, installation schedules, wall text (or didactics), and any special opening events. Once the installation begins, the registrar serves as air-traffic control to help make sure the team stays, to the best of our ability, on track according to the installation schedule.

Registrars also take step-by-step notes and pictures to document the process, especially for an installation like Yayoi Kusama: All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins, which requires very specific construction. Installations can be a little tiring but the end result is so rewarding! You get to see a project come together literally from the ground up and then share it with the community.

The pumpkin-themed mirror room will be on display from October 1, 2017, through February 25, 2018 [UPDATE: the exhibition will now close on April 29, 2018], with DMA Members getting a sneak peek up until the opening (DMA Member tickets are available here). Visit our website for details and to purchase tickets: DMA.org/Kusama.

 

Alicia Chavez is the Collections Assistant at the DMA.

How to Install a Robert Smithson

A new rotation of artworks was recently installed in the Barrel Vault, our main contemporary art space. Included in this new installation are masterpieces by Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, and Hans Hofmann, as well as several newly acquired artworks. One of the highlights of the gallery is Robert Smithson’s Mirrors and Shelly Sand. The work is composed of approximately three tons of sand and 50 mirrors (glued back-to-back in pairs of two) lined up in a row, creating the illusion of infinity when you gaze into them. This engaging piece invites the viewer in and encourages interaction (but just of the mental variety—please remember not to touch!).

The piece becomes even more interesting when you know the process required to install it. It takes a lot of work and skill to transform the 125 buckets of sand and two crates of mirrors into the finished work of art. There are specific instructions from the artist on how the piece should be installed, but there will always be variances due to the nature of the materials. Thankfully for us, one of our Senior Preparators, Mary Nicolett, has installed the Smithson eight times and is a pro.

First our crew constructs a massive tent made of plastic. This keeps all of the sand contained and ensures that other artworks in the area are protected. On installation day, our stellar team of preparators (professional art handlers) put on their protective gear and prepare to get dirty. After the Registrar (me!) completes a condition report on all the mirrors, they are lined up based on the artist’s specifications and a small pile of sand is poured over them to keep them in place. Once all of the mirrors are in place, the real fun begins. Each preparator grabs a bucket of sand and begins pouring. Once all the buckets are empty, Nicolett begins smoothing the sand into the appropriate shape. At the end of the day, the dusty crew exits the tent to let the dust settle. The next day, the tent is removed and the finishing touches to the sand are completed.

Installation works like Mirrors and Shelly Sand allow our prep team to flex their creative muscles. While we do follow the instructions provided by the artist, the preparators are the ones who physically create the artwork as you see it. A good prep team is vital to any art institution as they are the ones who know the intricacies of a piece and how to safely install it. Thankfully for us, we have one of the best!

 

Katie Province is the Assistant Registrar for Collections and Exhibitions at the DMA.

Finding Yourself at the DMA

As an art museum educator, I live for the tales of visitors who have had meaningful, inspirational, life-changing experiences in museums—perhaps because it was exactly this kind of personal experience that propelled me down the career path I’ve taken. Working in the Center for Creative Connections (C3), a participatory educational space for visitors of all ages, I have the privilege of hearing these kinds of statements often; however, a few months back I was surprised to hear from a visitor who literally found herself in a photograph by Geoff Winningham currently on view in the C3.

Geoff Winningham (artist), The Cronin Gallery (publisher), U.T. Cheerleaders, negative 1972, print 1976, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Prestonwood National Bank 1981.36.6

During a Late Night event, Laura was walking through C3 with her husband when they both stopped dead in their tracks as they walked by the photograph. “I think that’s you,” her husband stated. “I know it’s me!” Laura exclaimed.

I had so many questions for her. What was it like seeing yourself in a work of art in a museum? Did you know this photograph existed or that you were being photographed at the time? Can you recall the other cheerleaders in the photograph? Luckily, Laura was happy to meet up to discuss her experience.

As you might imagine, Laura was quite surprised to see a photo of her college-age self in the Museum. As a University of Texas cheerleader, she was aware they were photographed in action from time to time—once her image ended up as part of the opening montage of ABC’s Wide World of Sports for a full year—but she never imagined she would make it into a work of art in the DMA’s collection. Laura is uniquely well versed in the DMA collection, but until recently she had never seen this photograph before. Not only is Laura a DMA Member, but she was also part of the PM Docent class for five years, starting with the charter class under the leadership of Gail Davitt.

Both the University of Texas and the Dallas Museum of Art have loomed large in Laura’s life, but she never imagined that the two worlds would collide. In fact, UT Cheer isn’t just a distant memory as Laura regularly attends the Cheer Reunions and keeps in touch with fellow cheerleaders, including some of those captured alongside her in Winningham’s photograph. In the image below, the woman on the far right is the same woman on the far left of the UT Cheerleaders photograph by Winningham.

Now that Laura knows of the existence of this photograph, she comes back to visit it from time to time. She was also keen to meet the photographer, Geoff Winningham, and looked him up immediately to learn more about him and his work. Fortunately, Winningham was at the DMA in April to lead a Gallery Talk about the series this photograph is part of—A Texas Dozen.

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

Genre Bending

Walter De Maria

“Every good work of art should have at least ten meanings,” remarked Walter de Maria, one of the major figures in the history of Minimal, Conceptual, Installation, and Land, in 1974. One thing I admire about his work is how complex and multifaceted it is (literally and figuratively); it invites us as viewers to hold in mind a few ideas at once and to consider it from a variety of perspectives.

Mark your calendars for Wednesday, January 18 to do exactly that, and to celebrate the DMA’s recent co-acquisition with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art of Large Rod Series: Circle/Rectangle 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 by De Maria at a DMA Arts & Letters Live event.

Top: author Geoff Dyer Bottom: DMA curator Gavin Delahunty

Top: author Geoff Dyer
Bottom: DMA curator Gavin Delahunty

This Artful Musings event will feature senior curator Gavin Delahunty who organized the Walter De Maria: Counterpoint installation and will provide an overview of the artist, his work, and importance; award-winning author Geoff Dyer who has written about De Maria’s work in his newest book White Sands; and percussionist Stockton Helbing, who will perform some of the artist’s rare musical compositions.

After 5:00 p.m., you can linger in the installation before it goes off view on January 22 — it’s the perfect opportunity in a quieter setting to experience the artist’s work. As Caitlin Haskell notes in her catalogue essay, “it takes time to come to know them.” There is rich resonance between El Greco’s painting of Saint Francis Kneeling in Meditation (1605-1610, on loan from the Meadows Museum) and De Maria’s sculpture. The juxtaposition of these two works creates a rich meditation on the themes of minimalism, mathematics, progression, and sensory perception.

Walter De Maria, Counterpoint

Walter De Maria: Counterpoint, 2016

Shortly after 7:00 p.m., percussionist Stockton Helbing will perform of one of De Maria’s musical compositions, with Gavin Delahunty’s and Geoff Dyer’s insights and conversation kicking off at 7:30 p.m. Dyer will then sign copies of his books, and Delahunty will sign copies of the newly published exhibition catalogue.

demaria-jackets-05

Both artist and author defy easy classification or categorization in their respective fields. De Maria was a painter, sculptor, illustrator, and composer. The New Yorker calls Dyer “a restless polymath and an irresistibly funny storyteller. . . . adept at fiction, essay, and reportage, but happiest when twisting all three into something entirely his own.”

Dyer’s newest book, White Sands: Experiences from the Outside World, showcases his series of fascinating adventures and pilgrimages across the globe. They range from searching for Gauguin’s notion of exotic paradise in Tahiti to nearly freezing and being trampled by a dog sled on a quest to see the Northern Lights. Weaving stories about recent travels with images and memories from his childhood, Dyer tries to discern what a certain place and, like De Maria, what a certain way of marking a landscape, means; he explores the power and attraction that certain places hold and what we seek in them.

My favorite chapter in White Sands is the one in which Dyer, his wife, and friends experience De Maria’s The Lightning Field in western New Mexico, where the only way to visit is to reserve a cabin on the property and stay overnight, allowing you to experience the 400 rods in at various times of day and in varying degrees of sunlight.  Reading it made me want to prioritize this as my next road trip.

Walter De Maria’s The Lightning Field, Quemado, New Mexico

Walter De Maria’s The Lightning Field, Quemado, New Mexico

For those who want to delve further into this topic and artist, don’t miss the opportunity to hear Walter De Maria in his own words about his land art installations as part of a free film screening of The Troublemakers: The Story of Land Art on Saturday, January 21 at 2:00 p.m. at the DMA. Explore Arts & Letters Live’s lineup of more than 30 events over the next six months here.

Carolyn Bess is the Director of Arts & Letters Live at the DMA.

Off the Wall: A New Experience

What do David Bowie, James Bond, The Karate Kid, Bon Jovi, and dragons have in common? They all served as inspiration for our newest program, Off the Wall.

This spring and summer, the Adult Programming team spent many hours brainstorming themes, program ideas, and the best format for a new evening event. We wanted to be playful in our approach, making sure everyone would have a fun and unexpected experience—thus Off the Wall was born.

From 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month, Off the Wall will offer a unique way to explore our collection with a pop culture twist. We will launch Off the Wall tomorrow with an exploration of space, astronomy, and the 60s with our take on Space Oddity.

Each member of the team brought her own area of geeky pop culture knowledge to the table, for example, but not limited to, 80s TV, movies, and music (Stacey); movies and all things sci-fi and fantasy (Jessie); Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and over the top action movies (Katie); and all things 90s with a specialty in rap from the early 2000s (Madeleine).

So stop by and geek out with us, revel in the pop culture madness with us, and boldly go on this new adventure in the DMA collection with us.

October 13: Space Oddity 

Robert Rauschenberg, Skyway, 1964, oil and silkscreen on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Roberta Coke Camp Fund, The 500, Inc., Mr. and Mrs. Mark Shepherd, Jr. and General Acquisitions Fund

Robert Rauschenberg, Skyway, 1964, oil and silkscreen on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Roberta Coke Camp Fund, The 500, Inc., Mr. and Mrs. Mark Shepherd, Jr. and General Acquisitions Fund, 1986.8.a-b, (c) Rauschenberg Estate/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY 

November 10: Gogh Your Own Way 

Vincent van Gogh, Sheaves of Wheat, July 1890, Oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection

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

December 8: Winter Is Coming

Finial: Dragon head, 11th–14th century, Bronze, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase, 1963.24

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

January 12: Plot Twist

Thinking Bodhisattva, Asian, 4th-6th century C.E., terracotta, Dallas Museum of Art, Wendover Fund, gift of David T. Owsley via the Alvin and Lucy Owsley Foundation, the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund, and General Acquisitions Fund, 2010.17

Thinking Bodhisattva, Afghanistan, 4th-6th century C.E., terracotta, Dallas Museum of Art, Wendover Fund, gift of David T. Owsley via the Alvin and Lucy Owsley Foundation, the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund, and General Acquisitions Fund, 2010.17

February 9: Shot Through the Heart

Yinka Shonibare, M.B.E., A Masked Ball (Un ballo mascherd), 2004, high-definition digital video, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund, 2008.26

Yinka Shonibare, M.B.E., A Masked Ball (Un ballo mascherd), 2004, high-definition digital video, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund, 2008.26, (c) Yinka Shonibare

March 9: Et Tu, Brute?

Ceremonial Knife (Metal Inlaid Grip), African, 19th-20th century, wood, steel, nickel-silver, Dallas Museum of Art, The Clark and Frances Stillman Collection of Congo Sculpture, gift of Eugene and Margaret McDermott, 1969.S.79

Ceremonial knife, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 19th-20th century, wood, steel, and nickel-silver, Dallas Museum of Art, The Clark and Frances Stillman Collection of Congo Sculpture, gift of Eugene and Margaret McDermott, 1969.S.79

April 13: Shaken, Not Stirred

William Waldo Dodge, Jr., “Skyscraper” cocktail shaker with cups, c. 1928-1931, silver, Dallas Museum of Art, The Patsy Lacy Griffith Collection, gift of Patsy Lacy Griffith by exchange, 2008.48.1-12

Skyscraper cocktail shaker with cups, William Waldo Dodge, Jr., designer, c. 1928-31, silver, Dallas Museum of Art, The Patsy Lacy Griffith Collection, gift of Patsy Lacy Griffith by exchange, 2008.48.1-12

May 11: Wax On, Wax Off

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): cloud design (megamenlang), Indonesia, Java, c. 1910, cotton and commercial dye (?), Textile Purchase Fund, 1991.58

June 8: Make It Work!   

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, c. 1867-1868, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, 1985.R.59

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Lise Sewing, c. 1867-68, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, 1985.R.59

 

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


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