Archive for the 'Contemporary Art' Category

Painting a Passageway

Indian artist N S Harsha recently completed his first U.S. museum solo show, a mural commissioned by the DMA. This 120-foot wall painting is on view through February 21, 2016, in the Museum’s Concourse between the Barrel Vault and Fleischner Courtyard. Below is the completed project as well as the mural in progress. When asked about his feelings on his work being painted over and “lost” after the completion of the exhibition, Harsha replied, “The physicality disappears but the work is etched into the minds of people,” adding that he was happy to leave the space clean for the next artist.



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N S Harsha with press during installation, August 2015

Gavin Delahunty, Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the DMA, and N S Harsha speaking to the press during installation.

Gavin Delahunty, The Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the DMA, and N S Harsha speaking to the press during installation

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Stir Your Senses

For Friday’s Late Night, we wanted to make sure we engaged all of the senses, giving visitors an immersive experience at the DMA. There will be many programs to stir your senses of sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch.

To tempt you to stay out late, I have highlighted one program for each of the five senses.


Visit our Flora Street Entrance and our Sculpture Garden to see vivid outdoor installations representing color, pattern, and movement created by The Color Condition.

Color Condition 2


Experience the physicality of sound with a newly commissioned performance by New York artist Kevin Beasley. BLACK ROCKER will premiere at the DMA as part of the inaugural SOLUNA festival.

Kevin Beasley


Our Lounge @ Founders will tempt all of your taste senses with something salty, sour, sweet, and bitter.

Founders 2


Families can stop by the exhibition Between Action and the Unknown: The Art of Kazuo Shiraga and Sadamasa Motonaga and check out a Sensory Art-to-Go Family Tote Bag. The tote bags are filled with a variety of activities, such as imagining how a work of art would smell and then writing a poem about it.

Tote Bags


While you can’t touch the art, you can stop by the Art Spot in the Center for Creative Connections and make your own work of art using a variety of materials.

Art Spot 2

We hope you’ll join us on Friday to see what else is in store!

Stacey Lizotte is Head of Adult Programming and Multimedia Services 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).

Emeralds of the Collection

This St. Patrick’s Day we aren’t crossing the pond to celebrate with the Irish as the DMA is home to a number of works created by artists who have called the Emerald Isle home. Wishing everyone a happy St. Patrick’s Day filled with the luck of the Irish, and some of their artistic talent too.

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


Nic Nicosia, Vacation, 1986, cibachrome photograph, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Meisel Photochrome Corporation © 1986 Nic Nicosia, Dallas, Texas

Nic Nicosia, Vacation, 1986, cibachrome photograph, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Meisel Photochrome Corporation, © 1986 Nic Nicosia, Dallas, Texas

Earlier this month, the large photograph Vacation by Nic Nicosia was installed in the Center for Creative Connections (C3). Vacation is one of seven photographs that comprise Nic Nicosia’s Life As We Know It series. In this series depicting contemporary American life, Nicosia plays with everyday topics such as fashion, youth, and violence. Through his use of fabricated environments and staged scenes, Nicosia blurs the line between illusion and reality. This surreal atmosphere is enhanced by the ironic twists, such as the burning plane in the background, on what would otherwise be ordinary situations.

Inspired by this work of art, the C3 team created a photo station where visitors can pose for their own staged picnic-themed photograph. Some have embraced the surreal nature of Nicosia’s work more than others. Check out our visitors’ photographs and stop by C3 to snap a photo of your DMA vacation.

Jessica Fuentes is the C3 Gallery Coordinator

The Museum is History

This weekend, explore works from the Museum’s modern and contemporary collection in a new installation by the DMA’s new Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art, Gavin Delahunty. The Museum Is History: Modern and Contemporary Art from 1950-1990 installation, featuring work by Jackson Pollock, Atsuko Tanaka, John Chamberlain, and more, will be on view through November and it is included in the DMA’s free general admission.






















































































Words with Friends (and owls, mohels, etc.)

For the exhibition Never Enough: Recent Acquisitions of Contemporary Art, New York-based artist Darren Bader visited Dallas to help us realize a unique work recently purchased by the DMA. Bader is known for his innovative and unconventional use of materials that push the boundaries of sculpture and activates environments with unexpected pairings and phenomenological experiences.


For example, in the 2012 exhibition Darren Bader: Images at MoMA PS1, the artist presented a room filled with a newly upholstered couch and several live housecats, all of which were available for adoption by museum visitors. Elsewhere the artist installed a selection of vegetables, each on its own wooden pedestal, that was made into salad for gallery visitors by a museum staffer twice a week. While these works all had a social dimension, for the artist these elements are understood to be sculpture of one form or another, albeit in the most expansive definition of the word.

Bader’s work also frequently employs double-entendres and wordplay, as is readily apparent in the series of rhyming couplets that make up the recent acquisition at the DMA, and which is now on view: obi and/with SCOBY; oak with/and smoke; owl and/with towel; oar with/and store; oil with/and mohel; oat and/with note; orc with/and fork. Generally, when a museum purchases a work it has a set physical form, but in this case the work itself consists solely of the words listed in the title above and the conceptual potential for realizing these couplings. These absurd combinations can be realized in physical space (e.g., placing a rowing oar in the DMA store) or in the form of photographic or video documentation to be displayed in the galleries. Contractual agreements like this have a long history within the canon of conceptual art, including works by Marcel Duchamp, Yves Klein, Hans Haacke (with the aid of dealer Seth Siegelaub), and Andrea Fraser, among others.

As the curator for this exhibition, I was tasked with coordinating and/or sourcing the various elements needed to realize this work, including an obi and SCOBY, owl and towel, and even a mohel (more on that in a later blog post). In order to find an owl, we got in touch with Kathy Rogers from Roger’s Wildlife Rescue down in Hutchins, Texas.


Kathy and her team run an amazing facility that rescues, rehabilitates and houses hundreds of birds of all varieties. For our project, Kathy had three types of owls available—Barred, Barn and Screech—and ultimately we decided to go with Forest, the Barn Owl. Forest was born in captivity, so he is very comfortable around humans and was more than happy to be filmed by the DMA’s crew.



Next we had to find a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) to go along with the obi (a traditional Japanese sash used with a kimono) we purchased from eBay. Lucky for us, the wonderful people at Holy Kombucha in Fort Worth were more than willing to provide us with a grade-A large SCOBY. While the SCOBY itself is naturally slimy and smelly, it is probiotic, and when used in kombucha it makes for a very tasty health drink; however, in order to exhibit the SCOBY our Objects Conservator dried it in an oven for several hours until it became a tissue-paper thin wafer.

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For those that are curious, the SCOBY will be on view in the Stoffel Gallery, along with video clips representing other pairings from the Bader piece scattered throughout the galleries (included in free general admission!). We have also staged two small interventions outside the gallery spaces that you might encounter on your next trip to the DMA. So if you find an oar in the DMA store, or oats in the DMA donation box, don’t be alarmed . . . it’s only art.

Gabriel Ritter is The Nancy and Tim Hanley Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the DMA.

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