Posts Tagged 'Dallas Museum of Art'

You Know You’re a Museum Mom If….

Over the years I’ve had the chance to see children grow up right before my eyes as they’ve attended classes at the DMA. They may solemnly gaze at me from their strollers in Art Babies, toddle around with their binkies in Toddler Art, and then proudly graduate to the “big kid” art classes before confidently marching off to kindergarten. I’ve also had the opportunity to get to know many amazing moms in the community. They push strollers, wrangle kids, balance wet paintings on their arms, and cheerfully champion their children’s creativity. In honor of Mother’s Day, here are just a few of the things we love about Museum Moms!

Mothers Day 1

Fun is often messy. Museum moms aren’t afraid of messes—even big ones! We’ve challenged children to paint with their feet, create dripping, gluey sculptures, and blow colorful paint bubbles onto paper. To say that we sometimes get messy in the Art Studio is a bit of an understatement. But our DMA moms are always enthusiastic, encouraging their children to try something new and to not let sticky fingers hold them back. As we’ve conducted fun painting experiments in the studio over the past few months, I’ve watched children gaze at their moms in wonder as they strip off their shoes and socks, push up their sleeves, and dive into some serious action painting.

Mothers Day 2

Sometimes you just need to shout! We hope that every child finds his or her own unique voice, and through our family classes, we do our best to give children opportunities to share those voices. Museum Moms value what their children think and wonder about art, and often let them lead the way in talking about what they see. In a recent Art Babies class, caregivers pulled their little ones across the floor on colorful fabric to mimic the sensation of paint gliding across a canvas. Amidst the giggles and smiles, one baby accidentally discovered the wonderful echo she could make in the galleries. A comical shrieking match quickly broke out as other babies realized they could make their own echoes too, and the gallery was soon filled with high-pitched, delighted squeals. Rather than frantically shushing their children, these wise moms simply reveled in the display of spontaneous joy that came from children making discoveries in an inspiring place (and took advantage of the fact that there were no other visitors in the gallery).

Mothers Day 3

Being present is the best present. We’re all about family togetherness here at the DMA, so when we’re sketching in the galleries or posing like a statue, more often than not, the grown-ups are right alongside their child, busily engaged in a class activity. Museum Moms know that their children watch everything they do, and that the best way to raise a creative child is for children to see you nurturing your own creativity. In a preschool class several years ago, I asked a group of three and four year olds who some of their heroes were. Lili piped up immediately and said, “My mom is my art hero because she watches while I paint.” When we’re busy creating in the Art Studio, I always have at least one or two children who inform me that their masterpieces are “for my mom.” Museum Moms are some of the very best at creating lasting memories for their families and giving the gift of their presence.

To all the moms out there, thank you for all you do! Happy Mother’s Day!

Leah Hanson is the Manager of Early Learning Programs at the DMA.

May the Art Be with You

It is a little known fact that the DMA is a favorite art spot for those from a galaxy far, far away. This May 4th we spotted Princess Leia and Darth Vader roaming the DMA—without light sabers, as they aren’t permitted in the galleries—checking out some of their favorites in the collection. May the fourth be with you!

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I am your father:
This #MayThe4thBeWithYou photo shoot took place on “Take Your Child To Work” day, so Darth Vader’s daughter joined in on the fun.

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Kimberly Daniell is the Manager of Communications and Public Affairs and Jessica Fuentes is the Center for Creative Connections Gallery Coordinator at the DMA.

Rare Books

The DMA’s Mayer Library staff spent the last two months cataloging books from the Reves Library. At the start of the project, only one hundred or so books from the Reves Collection were searchable in the library’s catalog.  We knew there were important books that had not yet been entered that could significantly improve research on the collection, if only they were more accessible. Taking advantage of the temporary closure of the Reves Grand Salon and Library for refurbishment this past February, we embarked on a project to do just that.

It required removing all nine hundred and fifty art and antiquarian books from the shelves in the Reves Library, transferring them on book carts through the Museum galleries to the Mayer Library, and then, one by one, cataloging each book in the library’s database. To give you a sense of how large an endeavor this was, our two catalogers usually catalog three hundred books in the same time frame.

Reves Library after books to be cataloged were moved out.

Reves Library after books to be cataloged were moved out

Reves books in the library workroom, their home during the cataloging project.

Reves books in the library workroom, their home during the cataloging project

Most of the books in the Reves Library are art related, with an emphasis on areas in which the couple collected, including many rare gallery and exhibition catalogues. The library also contains collections of writings by Winston Churchill, translations of Emery Reves’ Anatomy of Peace, and a significant collection of antiquarian books—one of the earliest dating back to 1547, Il Petrarcha con l’espositione d’Alessandro Vellutello, a commentary on Petrarch’s Rerum vulgarium fragmenta.

As the project progressed, interesting findings began to emerge that brought Wendy and Emery Reves and the history of the DMA collection to life. For example, auction catalogs annotated by Emery Reves gave us a glimpse into their collecting habits and interests. Lot 18 of this Sotheby’s catalogue from 1974 was Edouard Manet’s Portrait of Isabelle Lemonnier with a Muff, now in the DMA’s collection; however, it wasn’t Wendy and Emery Reves who purchased it. A close-up of the annotation reads “100,000 Schmit (Paris).” That is a reference to Galerie Schmit. According to the provenance for this painting, it was then acquired by Mr. and Mrs. Algur Meadows, who gifted it to the DMA in 1978.

Page of the Sotheby's catalog showing the Manet

Page of the Sotheby’s catalog showing the Manet

The keen eye of our cataloger discovered this bookplate of Paul Iribe, a French fashion illustrator and interior designer, on the last page of Spinoza’s Ethique. Iribe died in 1935 while visiting Coco Chanel at La Pausa, the French Riviera villa later owned by Wendy and Emery Reves.

Paul Iribe bookplate

Paul Iribe bookplate

With a mix of satisfaction, relief, and a tinge of sadness, the books have all been returned to the shelves of the new and improved Reves Library.

You can browse through a list of the rest of the books from the Reves Collection in the library’s online catalog.

Jenny Stone is the Librarian at the Dallas Museum of Art.

 

Master of Monsters

One of the annual projects for the McDermott Curatorial Intern for European Art is to develop and curate a small exhibition pulled from the DMA’s works on paper collection. Of the pieces within the European collection (which includes over 1,500 works!), I was immediately drawn to ones by old masters (artists working before 1800), like Rembrandt van Rijn, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, and Francisco de Goya. I found the work by German artist Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) to be particularly fascinating, and I chose fourteen of his prints for the exhibition Saints and Monsters: Prints by Albrecht Dürer, which focuses on Dürer’s depiction of both the religious and the monstrous.

Dürer was a prolific artist working in the Northern Renaissance who revolutionized the field of printmaking through his original iconographic models, dynamic compositions, and skill in capturing details. Today he is widely hailed as one of the greatest printmakers of all time; however, since these prints are so tiny (those included in the exhibition measure only about 3 x 5 inches), it can be difficult to appreciate Dürer’s printmaking prowess in the galleries alone. To supplement your gallery experience, I thought I might share a few details from one of my favorite works in the exhibition, St. George on Foot.

Albrecht Dürer, St. George on Foot, c. 1502 - c. 1503, engraving, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Calvin J. Holmes

Albrecht Dürer, St. George on Foot, c. 1502-c. 1503, engraving, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Calvin J. Holmes

This engraving portrays St. George, a 3rd century military saint and martyr associated with his mythical slaying of a terrorizing dragon, the moment of which is depicted here. With a closer look, we can find some of the finer details that may otherwise be difficult to see in the gallery.

Albrecht Dürer, St. George on Foot (detail), c. 1502 - c. 1503, engraving, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Calvin J. Holmes

Albrecht Dürer, St. George on Foot (detail), c. 1502-c. 1503, engraving, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Calvin J. Holmes

Here we see St. George’s sensitively rendered expression as he looks off into the distance. Tendrils of hair escape his hairnet, evidence of the recent struggle between man and beast, while his beard and mustache are made of distinct curls. Framing St. George’s face is a spontaneously sketched halo, designating his holiness. Notice how Dürer was able to capture the volume and texture of the saint’s suit of armor through hatching and crosshatching, representing his remarkable ability to represent the metallic qualities of armor.

Albrecht Dürer, St. George on Foot (detail), c. 1502 - c. 1503, engraving, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Calvin J. Holmes

Albrecht Dürer, St. George on Foot (detail), c. 1502-c. 1503, engraving, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Calvin J. Holmes

The defeated dragon lies belly-up at St. George’s feet. This position makes the dragon appear especially grotesque with its open eyes, bared teeth, sharpened claws, pointed nose, and spiked wings. The monster’s neck and tail are marked with wounds created by St. George’s sword. During the 16th century, many Europeans believed dragons were real, so Dürer’s dragon both emphasizes St. George’s courage in fighting the beast while also instilling fear of the evil and unknown into viewers.

Albrecht Dürer, St. George on Foot (detail), c. 1502 - c. 1503, engraving, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Calvin J. Holmes

Albrecht Dürer, St. George on Foot (detail), c. 1502-c. 1503, engraving, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Calvin J. Holmes

Behind St. George, Dürer renders a village and harbor, which reminds us of the people George protected by slaying the dragon. The trees and buildings in a sinuous line appear as if they are floating on the water’s surface. The divide between land and water is ambiguous, and Dürer only implies land, shadow, water, and wave through simple hatch and crosshatch lines.

Albrecht Dürer, St. George on Foot (detail), c. 1502 - c. 1503, engraving, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Calvin J. Holmes

Albrecht Dürer, St. George on Foot (detail), c. 1502-c. 1503, engraving, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Calvin J. Holmes

Following his victory, St. George cast off his helmet, which holds an elaborate arrangement of lush feathers. The extravagant plumes contrast with the metallic gleam of the saint’s armor and the coarseness of the dragon’s flesh. In the lower left corner is Dürer’s distinctive signature of his initials, “A.D.”  With a careful eye, you can find Dürer signatures in each of the prints included in Saints and Monsters.

I hope that with this closer look you will better be able to appreciate Dürer’s virtuosity in the print medium and ability to utilize shadow, texture, and form to convey drama and emotion. Come see this work and more in Saints and Monsters: Prints by Albrecht Dürer, currently on view in the European Works on Paper Gallery, located on Level 2 and included in the Museum’s free general admission.

Laura Sevelis is the McDermott Curatorial Intern for European Art at the DMA.

Pulling At Our Heart Strings

When a Museum acquires a new work of art, it can be a very quick process or it can take months—or sometimes years! The latter was the case with The Harp Lesson, a monumental triple portrait by the French neoclassical painter Jean Antoine Théodore Giroust (1753–1817).

We first became aware of the painting’s availability in 2010, but the circumstances to purchase it were not quite right. When it came up for auction at Christie’s Old Masters sale in New York on January 28 of this year, we were ready to spring into action. So Olivier Meslay, the DMA’s Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs and Barbara Thomas Lemmon Curator of European Art, headed to New York, hoping that the weatherman’s forecast for twelve to eighteen inches of snow there would not thwart our chance to bid on the painting. The morning of the auction, several of us excitedly watched the sale live online from our offices in Dallas. The bidding went quite fast; it seemed to be over in the blink of an eye! Then, after the auctioneer said “sold!” with a thwack of his hammer, we had to endure several anxious minutes before we learned that the DMA was the high bidder.

This month, the monumental painting went on view in the European Galleries. Including the frame, it measures just shy of ten feet tall. While installing it was no minor undertaking, these pictures are proof that no challenge is too insurmountable for the DMA’s expert art preparators!

Completed in 1791, this large triple portrait depicts the fourteen-year-old Louise Marie Adelaïde Eugénie d’Orléans (1777–1847) and her governess, Stéphanie Félicité du Crest de Saint-Aubin, Comtesse de Genlis (1746–1830), each playing a large, beautiful harp. Leaning on the music stand before them is Mademoiselle Paméla (c. 1773–1831), who had been adopted by Madame de Genlis and raised as a companion to the d’Orléans children.

This remarkable life-size triple portrait is sure to create a sensation in our galleries just as it did when it debuted at the 1791 Salon in Paris.

installed

Martha MacLeod is the Curatorial Administrative Assistant in the European and American Art Department at the DMA.

We’re Turning Five

This Saturday, April 25, we are celebrating the 5th anniversary of the DMA Autism Awareness Family Celebration. The first program took place in April 2010, tied to Autism Awareness Month, with research beginning in the summer of 2009. A frequent DMA visitor with a son on the autism spectrum sparked my interest in creating an event in which families with children on the spectrum felt welcomed and comfortable at the DMA. I found there weren’t many museums that offered programming for this audience. After discussions with special education parent groups, I discovered that very few families had ever visited the DMA with their children on the spectrum due to the uncertainty of how their child might behave when here. It became apparent that the key element for hosting a program for this audience should include the following: an event that was private for families who had kids with autism, working with an autism specialist to plan activities to meet the specific needs of children on the spectrum, and providing resources to parents about the DMA.

For our pilot program in April 2010, I worked with an autism specialist to schedule the morning’s events, connected with a music therapist specializing in working with children with autism for a performance, and created a social story so that parents registered for the event could review and plan in advance with their child. The response for the first event was overwhelming! It was important to keep the attendance relatively low, so as not to overwhelm the children—and the waiting list grew to be just as long as the list of attendees. We received supportive affirmations from grateful parents both during and after the event.

Five years later, these events are still robust and constantly adjusting to accommodate community needs. When we piloted this program, the prevalence of autism was 1 in 110 children. Since 2009, the frequency of autism has increased to 1 in 88, and more recently 1 in 68. The DMA program has evolved over the years to include themes for each event, the creation of a quiet-sensory space with the help of the School of Occupational Therapy at Texas Women’s University, and tours for teens on the spectrum.

We have learned a great deal from visitors over the years at our Autism Awareness Family Celebrations, including how important the experience is for the siblings. Annie, age 11, told us that she “like[s] coming here because no one stares at my brother.” It’s feedback like this that helps us improve the program, and we love hearing the impact the event has on our participants:

Angie and her son during an Autism Awareness Family Celebration

“Our family has a 6-year-old nonverbal son with autism, and a 3-year-old son that is typically developing. We are an active family that loves to enjoy what DFW has to offer. We’ve been going to the DMA Autism Awareness Family Celebration events for the last few years, and we absolutely love them! Having been to many other family events and museums in the area, we have never found anything like what the DMA offers. It is exciting and refreshing that the Museum provides a safe and fun sensory-friendly event for kids on the spectrum, as well as for siblings. It is good for my youngest to see other families similar to ours. We struggle with finding activities that both of my boys can enjoy. From the interactive music program to art activities and sensory toys, the DMA has thought of everything. We love watching them play and interact together! Thank you!” —Angie G.

Rachel's son attending Hands-On Summer Art Camp for Children with Autism at the DMA

Rachel’s son attending Hands-On Art Summer Camp for Children with Autism at the DMA

“Our family is so thankful for the DMA’s outreach to the autism community. From the beginning, the DMA educators have provided programming very thoughtfully organized with the input of autism specialists and parents. Programs such as the Autism Awareness Days and their Summer Camp have opened up a new avenue for families with special needs children to explore and learn in the art museum. My son has attended the Hands-On Art Summer Camp for the past four years, and I’ve been so impressed with the camp preparation, the camp curriculum, and the trained educators and volunteers who have connected children with autism to the DMA’s art collection. My son feels very welcome at the DMA and always wants to return, which is such a blessing in light of the lack of educational public programming designed for children on the autism spectrum. The DMA has found their niche offering high-quality educational opportunities for special needs populations.” —Rachel S.

As we continue to learn more about the needs of children with autism, the definition of best practices in museums programming for this audience will continue to evolve. Society’s awareness of autism is fast-growing and, hopefully, more and more public institutions will begin to offer specialized experiences for kids on the spectrum and their families. It is important that nonprofits work together to share resources and help families with children on the spectrum feel comfortable visiting museums. Whether it is offering a summer camp just for children with autism (check out this year’s Hands-On Art Summer Camp at the DMA), creating a quiet corner in a museum gallery, or making a sensory-focused guide of your institution, we want all kids to have opportunities to learn, play, and have cultural experiences with their families.

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Learn more about all of the access programs the DMA offers at DMA.org.

 Amanda Blake is the Head of Family, Access, and School Experiences at the DMA.

Mr. Turner: They Say It’s Your Birthday

This week we will celebrate Joseph Mallord William “J. M. W.” Turner’s 240th birthday! The pioneering English artist always claimed that his birthday was April 23, 1775, but in fact the precise date of his birth is a bit of a mystery. Turner was a prolific artist. By the end of his celebrated career, he had produced more than 550 oil paintings, 2,000 watercolors, and 30,000 works on paper. You may recall many of his works from the DMA’s popular 2008 exhibition J. M. W. Turner.

But you don’t have to wait for another blockbuster exhibition to see paintings by Turner at the DMA. Wend your way to the European Galleries on Level 2 to see his 1803 landscape Bonneville, Savoy. In this painting, Turner describes the gentle landscape of the foothills of the Alps, dotted with signs of human habitation, but in the distance he includes a glimpse of Mont Blanc’s forbidding snow-capped peak.

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Bonneville, Savoy, 1803, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Nancy Hamon in memory of Jake L. Hamon with additional donations from Mrs. Eugene D. McDermott, Mrs. James H. Clark, Mrs. Edward Marcus and the Leland Fikes Foundation, Inc. 1985.97.FA

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Bonneville, Savoy, 1803, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Nancy Hamon in memory of Jake L. Hamon with additional donations from Mrs. Eugene D. McDermott, Mrs. James H. Clark, Mrs. Edward Marcus and the Leland Fikes Foundation, Inc., 1985.97.FA

Later in Turner’s career, his palette became brighter and more transparent, ultimately resulting in compositions that were almost pure shimmering color and light, making the objects he depicted practically unrecognizable. This mature style placed his works in the vanguard of European painting that greatly influenced the next generation of artists. In fact, the French impressionist Claude Monet closely studied Turner’s techniques.

To learn more about this important British artist, watch the 2014 film Mr. Turner. It includes a scene in which he reportedly strapped himself to the mast of a ship so that he could paint a snowstorm. Or even better, stop by the DMA’s Museum Store and purchase a copy of Turner: Life and Landscape by our own Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs, Olivier Meslay. The (obviously) well-written book ;) includes rich illustrations and is a wealth of information about our birthday boy, Mr. Turner.

Martha Macleod is the Curatorial Administrative Assistant for the European and American Art Department at the DMA.


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