Archive for the 'European Art' Category

I Wanna Dance With Somebody

This week the prep team installed a pastel by artist Edgar Degas (1834-1917) in the European Art galleries for a special viewing through April 15. Ballet Dancers on the Stage joins two other pieces by Degas currently on view—a bronze sculpture titled The Masseuse, and a small etching, Dancer on Stage, Taking a Bow. Works on paper like Ballet Dancers on the Stage require long periods of rest in between exhibitions to preserve their light-sensitive materials, so it is always exciting when they go on view.

Edgar Degas, Ballet Dancers on the Stage, 1883, Pastel on paper, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mrs. And Mrs. Franklin B. Bartholow, 1986.277

Edgar Degas, The Masseuse, 1896-1911, Bronze, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., 1965.26.McD

Edgar Degas, Dancer on Stage, Taking a Bow, 1891-1892, Aquatint and soft-ground etching on paper, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mrs. And Mrs. Alfred L. Bromberg, 1956.83

Edgar Degas was a French artist working in the second half of the 19th century who has become well-known for his paintings and pastels of ballet dancers. It is important to note that while Degas focused on the subject of ballet for over twenty years, he was interested in depicting many aspects of modern life. The DMA’s collection includes seven works by Degas with subjects ranging from ballerinas and bathers to an opera singer and a masseuse.

Dated 1883, Ballet Dancers on the Stage is a later work that reflects his involvement with the Impressionist group and his interest in Japanese woodblock prints.

Here are a few things to look for when you see the pastel in person:

• Try to count how many complete or partial ballerinas are in this scene and which arms go with each figure. Notice how Degas used brown outlines to define the forms of dancers’ bodies and costumes in the foreground, but he abandoned these outlines in the background and the figures lose clarity. Everything from the pastel’s sketch-like finish, to its varied levels of focus, and its jam-packed composition communicate that this is a fleeting moment of action. Similar to the experience of attending a ballet, we only get the finer details of the dancer who is closest to us.

• It looks like we are viewing the dancers from above and to the right, and within close range. This scene is from the perspective of an abonné or season ticket holder, who would have been seated in a box to the side of the stage. Abonné are supporters of the ballet who Degas sometimes portrayed as men in top hats.

• Notice how Degas has created an asymmetrical composition by tightly grouping the dancers in the upper right section of the paper while leaving the lower left corner open. Beginning in the 1850s Japanese woodblock prints were imported into Europe and they served as inspiration for many artists including Degas. Traditionally, Japanese woodblock artists create asymmetrical, diagonal compositions in which the vantage point off to one side rather than straight on. This 1834 print by Ando Hiroshige, Shono: A Rain Shower, is an example of a 19th-Century Japanese woodblock like those Degas might have seen. Notice the similarities in how these two artists have constructed their scenes.

Edgar Degas, Ballet Dancers on the Stage, 1883, Pastel on paper, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mrs. And Mrs. Franklin B. Bartholow, 1986.277
Ando Hiroshige, Shono: A Rain Storm, 1834, Woodblock print, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Marcus, 1984.202.46

• The light source appears to be coming from the bottom left, presumably from gas foot lamps lining the edge of the stage. Notice how the lower left corner is lighter and the areas of the ballerinas’ bodies directly facing that corner have strong highlights.

• Degas was a master at using pastels to layer color. Here he uses the color of the paper as the shading for his figures and layers colors like white, blue, pink and yellow to create depth. His repetition of the color yellow in particular carries your eye through the entire scene.

Don’t miss your chance to see this object in person. It will be on view through April 20 and is included in the Museum’s free general admission.

Jessie Frazier is Manager of Adult Programming at the DMA

A Soiree Fit for Versailles

Next week on Thursday, November 2 the DMA is hosting a soiree fit for Versailles at the second annual Rosenberg Fête celebrating French art from the 18th century. We’ll step back in time with period music, sketching in the galleries, a sumptuous menu of French classics, and a talk on one of the Rosenberg Collection’s most exquisite paintings.

Let’s take a brief dive into the collection we are celebrating. A significant portion of the DMA’s 18th century French art holdings comes from the private collection of Michael L. Rosenberg (1947-2003), an art enthusiast and philanthropist who amassed works by some of the most influential French artists of the 18th century. Upon Michael’s passing in 2003, his collection was transferred to the the Rosenberg Foundation, which approved a long-term loan to the DMA in his memory, making our Museum the home of this stunning collection since 2004.

While each object commands a closer look, I’ve always been captivated by the two pieces that bookend the collection—the first and last of Rosenberg’s acquisitions.

The first piece that Mr. Rosenberg acquired was The Bather by François Lemoyne. It is a full length portrait of a nude woman dipping her toe into a body of water, aided by an attendant who holds her discarded clothes. Like many paintings of this period, The Bather can be described as sensuous; the scene is cast in a soft light that plays off of the pearlescent tones of the subject’s body and hair and the artist lent as much effort to the beauty of the painting as to the storytelling. A testament to the effect of the painting, Lemoyne actually created a copy of it for himself, which now hangs at the Hermitage. While he was perhaps not as famous as his protégé François Boucher, Lemoyne influenced artists for years to come, making The Bather not only a beautiful start to Rosenberg’s collection but one with great historical significance. Learn more about this painting tomorrow with Colin B. Bailey, Director of the Morgan Library Museum, who will speak about Lemoyne’s Bather in the context of other Rococo bathing scenes.

François Lemoyne, The Bather, 1724, Oil on canvas, Lent by the Michael L. Rosenberg Foundation, 29.2004.7

Mr. Rosenberg’s last acquisition was Portrait of Natalia Zakharovna Kolycheva, née Hitrovo by Elisabeth Louis Vigee-Lebrun. Vigee-Lebrun was a portrait painter to Queen Marie Antoinette and one of the few women painters of her time who was successful in an art world dominated by men. During the French Revolution she went into exile, eventually settling in Russia where she painted this and other portraits of aristocrats. At this moment in history only four women artists had been admitted to the prestigious French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture. With works by Vigee-Lebrun and two floral still lifes by Anne Vallayer-Caoster, also a painter to the Queen, the DMA had works by two out of four of these trailblazing women artists. In his lifetime Michael Rosenberg supported the acquisition of the Vallayer-Coster pendants, and today his legacy Foundation continues to support the museum’s expanding collection in this area, as exemplified by their generous support to acquire a portrait by Adélaïde Labille-Guiard earlier this year, so that now the DMA can boast having works by three of the four women Academicians of the 18th century.

Elisabeth Louise Vigée-Lebrun, Portrait of Natalia Zakharovna Kolycheva, née Hitrovo, 1799, Oil on Canvas, Lent by the Michael L. Rosenberg Foundation, 29.2004.13

Anne Vallayer-Coster, Bouquet of Flowers in a Terracotta Vase with Peaches and Grapes, 1776, Oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O’Hara Fund and gift of Michael L. Rosenberg, 1998.51.FA

Anne Vallayer-Coster, Bouquet of Flowers in a Blue Porcelain Vase, 1776, Oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O’Hara Fund and gift of Michael L. Rosenberg, 1998.52.FA

Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, Portrait of a Conventional, 1795, Oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Michael L. Rosenberg Foundation. 2017.18

These are just a few of the treasures in the Rosenberg Galleries. Join us next week to see the Collection and immerse yourself in the lavish world of 18th-Century France.

Jessie Frazier is Manager of Adult Programming at the DMA

Loving Vincent

Vincent van Gogh is one of the most well known names in art; despite that fact, there is still a veil of mystery surrounding the artist’s life, specifically his final days. This is the purpose of the film Loving Vincent, which will be screened at the DMA this Saturday at 7:00 p.m. for its Texas premiere. Through “the world’s first oil painted feature film,” you can see over 65,000 frames painted by 125 artists to mimic van Gogh’s style. You can watch the trailer here and see just how beautiful an oil painted movie can be. Around 130 frames in the movie are landscapes or portraits copied from actual van Gogh paintings, a few of which have a direct tie-in to two works on paper in the Museum’s collection.

The first is a preliminary drawing for van Gogh’s famous work Café Terrace at Night. This piece is re-created in the film for a scene between the main character, Armand Roulin, and his brother, Joseph Roulin, played by Douglas Booth and Chris O’Dowd. This particular frame mimics van Gogh’s painting, but adds in the two characters to the scene.

Vincent van Gogh, Café Terrace on the Place du Forum, September 1888, chalk, ink, and graphite on laid paper, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, 1985.R.79

Café Terrace at Night by Marlena Jopyk-Misiak (image from

The second work from our collection re-created in the film is the etching made by van Gogh after painting Portrait of Doctor Gachet. This was his first and only foray into the artistic technique of etching. The frame from the film shows Doctor Gachet, played by Jerome Flynn, with the same contemplative look and handsome mustache.

Vincent van Gogh, Portrait of Doctor Gachet, 1890, etching, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, 1985.R.81

Dr. Gachet – Keyframe by Piotr Dominiak (image via

Come by the Museum on Saturday, October 7, for a Vincent van Gogh-filled day! Enjoy the free lecture at 3:00 p.m. with one of the artists and animators for the film, Dena Peterson, and the film screening at 7:00 p.m.

Katie Cooke is Manager of Adult Programming at the DMA.

The Two Käthes

Join us for Late Night this Friday when we will host artist Käthe Kollwitz of the feminist activist art collective the Guerrilla Girls as part of a celebration of women artists featured in Visions of America. For more than thirty years, women artists from across the country have donned gorilla masks and joined the ranks of the Guerrilla Girls to produce public art campaigns that raise awareness about gender and ethnic discrimination in the art world and beyond. Having decided early on that the members of the Guerrilla Girls would remain anonymous, they took this opportunity to shine some limelight on great women artists of the past by assuming the names of pioneers like Käthe Kollwitz, Frida Kahlo, and Zubeida Agha.

Guerrilla Girls at the Abrons Art Center, 2015

In an interview for the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art Oral History Program, Käthe explained the origin of their pseudonyms.

“Eventually we realized that we needed individual names within the Guerrilla Girls.  When we went places in a group or in pairs, we needed to be individuals in some way.  So this idea came up to have dead women artists as pseudonyms, and it was a useful idea because art historians were re-finding and representing the work of a lot of women artists from history.  Most of the pseudonyms that people took were artists they’d never heard of before they started and only discovered when they read up on women artists, looking for a name.”

Käthe’s own namesake, Käthe Kollwitz (1867–1945), was a German printmaker and sculptor who also addressed social injustice in her work. She also happens to be well represented in the DMA’s collection

Kollwitz’s work is at times touching and heart-wrenching with intimate portraits of mothers with their children as well as genre scenes depicting the plight of the urban poor. Her subjects are often gaunt figures whose shadowy eyes and pained poses speak volumes about the dire circumstances under which they lived. Having endured multiple personal tragedies and both world wars, she was an artist who did not shy away from showing the realities of war, poverty, and loss.

Käthe Kollwitz, Revolt (Sturm), 1897, Etching, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts, The Alfred and Juanita Bromberg Collection, bequest of Juanita K. Bromberg, 2000.192.FA

Remarking on how she arrived at the pseudonym Käthe Kollwitz, the artist said, “It’s very personal for everybody.  Käthe Kollwitz is not my all-time favorite artist, but she’s a great role model.  She was an activist as well as an artist.  She didn’t believe in the expensive, fancy art system.  She did a lot of cheap prints that she gave and sold very cheaply.  She did a lot of work about working people, about women and children, even work about sex.  She was a fierce woman artist.”

Over 70 years after Kollwitz’s death the Guerrilla Girls are continuing the practice of using art to raise awareness. Reflecting on their own 30 year legacy, Käthe will speak about favorite projects and how the group has approached activism in their work. For more information about this and other Late Night programs, visit

Jessie Frazier is Manager of Adult Programming at the DMA

Picture Yourself

Self-portraits are compelling images because they appear to show us the person behind the artwork, offering us a special peek into who the artist was. We hope that by looking at the self-portrait, we can learn something about the subject. Yet, much like the selfies we post on social media, the artists were presenting themselves how they wished to be seen.

Just as selfies allow our friends and family to feel like they’re sharing in our daily lives, they are ultimately the result of our own conscious decisions, just like a self-portrait. The self-portraits we see in museums are images that exist somewhere between how we see the artist and how the artist wanted us to see him or her.

My upcoming exhibition Multiple Selves: Portraits from Rembrandt to Rivera, opening this weekend in the Museum’s European Galleries on Level 2,  focuses on this play between how we want to be seen and how we are seen. The majority of the images are self-portraits, ranging from the 17th to the 20th centuries in a variety of media, including etching, lithography, and drawing.

Just as we use objects and clothing in our selfies to identify ourselves (think college t-shirts to mark us as alums or pictures in front of tourist landmarks to show where we’ve been), artists in these self-portraits use different objects and costumes to help us identify the person we see in the portrait as an artist.

Koloman Sokol, Self-Portrait, mid-20th century, wood engraving, Dallas Museum of Art, anonymous gift, 1949.11

In many of the works, these objects are tools of the trade, or items that are specific to an artist’s working life. This includes palettes, canvases, mahl sticks (used by artists to keep their painting hand steady), drawing implements, and jewelry, which historically marked an artist’s inclusion in a professional guild or within a royal court.

One work in particular offers an intriguing example of this complex dynamic. Self-Portrait by Koloman Sokol is this type of double self-portrait. Sokol, a Slovakian artist by birth who worked extensively in Mexico and the United States, probably created this self-portrait sometime in his 30s. In it, we see not only the completed self-portrait but also the artist caught in the act of creating a self-portrait. At the bottom of the print, the outlines of this second self-portrait take shape. This second self-portrait is being created just as the first one was, through a printmaking process known as wood engraving. To help us identify the work he is doing, he includes his tools—the wood block he is carving on and a burin, a tool used in printmaking to cut into the metal plate or wood block.

Detail of Self-Portrait

In the works that feature artist tools, like Sokol’s, the artists are manipulating their own image to ensure that we as an audience recognize the duality of their self-portrait, that we recognize the artist as an artist through both the self-portrait as a work of art and through the artist’s self-presentation as an artist.

For more about self-portraits, join me for a free Gallery Talk on Wednesday, May 3, at 12:15 p.m. in the exhibition. For another type of double self-portrait, be sure to visit The Two Fridas, now on view in the exhibition México 1900–1950: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco, and the Avant-Garde, on view only at the DMA.

Amy Wojciechowski is the Dedo and Barron Kidd McDermott Graduate Intern for European Art.

The Mondrian Brand

The abstract paintings of Dutch artist Piet Mondrian have become ubiquitous in pop culture, from architecture to designer fashions. In a sense his geometric, primary-colored compositions have become a brand. This proliferation and appropriation of an artistic style begs the question, what shapes an artist’s legacy? Why do some works of art become so intertwined with pop culture that they become icons instantly recognizable to mass audiences? Join us on Thursday, April 27 at 7:00 p.m. for The Mondrian Brand and hear from Dr. Nancy Troy, Victoria and Roger Sant Professor in Art at Stanford University and author of The Afterlife of Piet Mondrian.

Piet Mondrian, Place de la Concorde, 1938–1943, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of the James H. and Lillian Clark Foundation 1982.22.FA

To contemplate Mondrian’s pop culture legacy in my own way I thought it was finally time to attempt the complex and beautiful Mondrian Cake made famous by Caitlin Freeman in her book Modern Art Desserts: Recipes for Cakes, Cookies, Confections, and Frozen Treats Based on Iconic Works of Art.

The first three lines of the recipe are just a taste of what goes into this chocolate-soaked masterpiece:
Makes one 16 by 3 by 3-inch cake, serving 15
Hands-on time: 6 hours
From start to finish: 2 days

To begin, I had to make four velvety cakes: one white, one blue, one red, and one yellow. Freeman uses a delicious recipe with a shocking butter content (I made two trips to the store). As you might imagine, I ended up with a rainbow of leftover cake that I was too lazy to repurpose into another dessert.

After precisely cutting each section of the Mondrianesque composition I glued them together with 24 oz of bittersweet chocolate ganache and finished the cake with a shower of ganache. With two days of cake construction behind me I was impatient to see the finished product and did not let it set up in the fridge for the recommended three hours. Each slice revealed a mini Mondrian, if only slightly wonky and Easter-egg colored. We’ll never know if Mondrian would have approved of this culinary counterfeit, but I was certainly satisfied with my effort.

Jessie Frazier is the Manager of Adult Programming 

Listen Hear

The Center for Creative Connections (C3) has been working closely with our Manager of Access Programs, Emily Wiskera, to create new sensory activities at each of the Pop-Up Art Spots. This month we have added a new activity to our Pop-Up Art Spot in the 18th-Century European Gallery. The works of art on view in this gallery are so epic they feel like they are straight out of a movie. So, we invited local musicians Clint Niosi and Claire Hecko to compose one-minute “film scores” for four of the works of art on view. Here’s a sneak peek of two of them:

Claude-Joseph Vernet, A Mountain Landscape with an Approaching Storm, 1775, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O'Hara Fund 1983.41.FA

Claude-Joseph Vernet, A Mountain Landscape with an Approaching Storm, 1775, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O’Hara Fund, 1983.41.FA

Jean Antoine Theodore Giroust, The Harp Lesson, 1791, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O'Hara Fund 2015.10.FA

Jean Antoine Theodore Giroust, The Harp Lesson, 1791, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O’Hara Fund, 2015.10.FA

Stop by the Pop-Up Art Spot on Saturdays between 1:00 and 4:00 p.m. or on Late Night between 8:00 and 11:00 p.m., check out an iPod, and listen to these mesmerizing sounds as you look closely at these works of art.

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

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