Posts Tagged 'Dallas Museum of Art'

Dashing Paint

John Singer Sargent, Dorothy, 1900, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Leland Fikes Foundation, Inc., 1982.35

On an afternoon in London, a two-year-old girl posed for the American artist John Singer Sargent (1856-1925). Dorothy Williamson was the granddaughter of one of Sargent’s American patrons, and sat before one of society’s greatest portraitists. But how long could a toddler sit still? What might that studio visit have been like?

Sargent would have painted Dorothy in his Tite Street studio in London (Oscar Wilde and James McNeill Whistler had also lived on the street). Behind the imposing bricks, the room was packed with antique silks, Chinese screens, and a gramophone to play music for clients.

Dorothy herself was perched on one of the chairs the artist kept around the studio. Sargent was already familiar with painting upper-class children: to keep them entertained and holding a pose, he might bribe them with oranges, whistle a tune, or recite a limerick.

First, he would place the easel next to Dorothy so he could step back and visualize sitter and canvas together. Sargent advised his students to place lots of paint on the palette in order to create a thick layer on the canvas. With the brush, he would start to add flesh colors, apply dark tones for contours around the eyes and mouth, and finish it off with white highlights along the nose and rosy cheeks.

Rather than create preparatory sketches, he often worked ideas out on the canvas—even painting a portrait in one afternoon. To capture the wriggling toddler, Sargent set up a fast-paced sitting, seen in his sketchlike brushwork. As he looked at tones and shadows, suddenly a face would miraculously emerge from the background. He tried to use the fewest strokes, perhaps a single mark for Dorothy’s bangs or pursed lips. He dashed a blue line for a shadow under the pudgy cheeks and left bits of the cream canvas untouched to suggest voluminous feathers on the hat. Sargent also added a single mark of white to the hat for a flamboyant detail.

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He took breaks to play a song on the piano, and then jumped up to finish a few brushstrokes. Sitters described how he would run toward the canvas with a loaded brush of paint, balance a fragrant cigarette in his mouth, and suddenly make a single stroke on the canvas. Looking closely, you can almost see Sargent’s gestures, when he arched his brush, twisted the wrist, and finally made a stroke on the canvas. He described wanting to create portraits that were “alive”—capturing a sitter in the midst of moving or speaking. The result is Dorothy’s hand—energetic and vibrating strokes for the fingers.

Sargent would hold his brush in the air and then place it down upon the canvas exactly where he wanted it to fall. As described by one of his students, “The stroke resounded almost like a note in music.” My personal favorite is the gray line that travels down the pinafore, just one stroke to suggest the folds of the dress.

Finally, he added the finishing touch—the signature. On the upper left side of the canvas, Sargent playfully signed his name with the butt-end of the brush by scratching into the paint layers. Come visit little Dorothy in the Level 4 galleries and marvel at Sargent’s dazzling skill.

Lea Stephenson is the McDermott Graduate Intern for American Art at the DMA.

Who’s the Boss

Today is national Boss’s Day so we decided to look back on the legacy of one of the DMA’s former bosses, Jerry Bywaters.

Jerry Bywaters with his painting On the Ranch

Jerry Bywaters was the figurehead for the Dallas Nine, a group of artists from the 1930s who all focused on individual styles while working together to present unique aspects of the Texas landscape. Throughout his career, he was an art critic, professor, museum director, and, of course, a Texas artist. From 1943 to 1964, Bywaters served as Director of the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, which would merge with the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts to create the DMA in 1963. He believed museums should be responsible for inspiring and cultivating art within the community, something that is still very important to the DMA today.

Jerry Bywaters, Self-Portrait, 1935, oil on Masonite, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Duncan E. Boeckman in honor of Mrs. Eugene McDermott, 1990.5

The DMA is fortunate to have a number of his works in our collection, including his paintings Share Cropper (1937) and On the Ranch (1941). Celebrate one of the DMA’s bosses with a visit to Level 4 to view Bywaters’, and his contemporaries’, work.

Kimberly Daniell is the Senior Manager of Communications, Public Affairs, and Social Media Strategy at the DMA.

 

Basket Weaving with the “Acorn Lady”

The time and concentration it takes to weave even a small basket is great. You have to focus very intently on the spacing between materials you’re weaving and how tight you’re pulling each section. That’s why watching Lois Conner Bohna, popularly known as the “Acorn Lady,” make a basket is so fascinating. It’s easy to fall into a trance while watching her work because of the repetitive and focused motions she uses. This past weekend, adult workshop participants were lucky enough to be taught the art of Mono basket weaving by this master weaver. Before they began working with natural materials like Redbud string and Sourberry sticks, they heard from Dr. Kimberly Jones, The Ellen and Harry S. Parker III Assistant Curator of Arts of the Americas. She spoke about the new acquisition to the collection of a work by Conner, and other baskets in our North American art collection. Below you can see the gambling tray that took Conner two years to complete. You can also see workshop participants weaving small handmade baskets that are traditionally made before the birth of a child.

Gambling tray, Lois Conner Bohna, 2006, deer grass, sedge root, redbud, and bracken fern, Dallas Museum of Art, The Roberta Coke Camp Fund, 2017.14.2

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Katie Cooke is Manager of Adult Programming at the DMA. 

Exhibition Throwback

More than fifty years after their Dallas debut, several paintings by South American artists are on view at the Dallas Museum of Art. These works first appeared on the Museum’s walls in 1959 as part of the exhibition South American Art Today at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts in Fair Park (DMFA). Now they reside in the terminus of the Tower Gallery, which formerly housed a portion of México 1900–1950: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco, and the Avant-Garde.

Sue Canterbury, The Pauline Gill Sullivan Associate Curator of American Art, selected thirty works from the Latin American art collection and private collections to fill the walls of this T-shaped gallery. The front portion of the gallery contains twenty works by artists living in Mexico from the 1930s to 1950s.

Perpendicular to this space is the high-ceilinged gallery featuring ten works by South American artists. Eight of these entered the Museum’s permanent collection following their presentation in South American Art Today—an exhibition scheduled during the 1959 State Fair of Texas, when the DMFA’s Fair Park building welcomed thousands of fair-goers.

For the assembly of the show, DMFA Director Jerry Bywaters hired Dr. José Gómez-Sicre, a Cuban art critic and writer who was the Chief of the Visual Arts Section of the Pan-American Union (now the Organization of American States). Following the end of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, public enthusiasm for international solidarity and cultural exchange increased. Though some in the United States still feared the political influences of Communist-controlled countries, Bywaters and DMFA patrons embraced the need to expand awareness of contemporary art practices in South America.

To curate the exhibition, Gómez-Sicre traveled to ten countries and selected works by seventy-one artists. Following the close of South American Art Today, the DMFA purchased sixteen of the works; another four paintings from the exhibition have remained in the collection as long-term loans.

Humberto Jaimes Sanchez, Composition in Blue, by 1959, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase, 1959.57

The eight paintings now on view in the Tower Gallery as part of the Latin American art collection were produced by artists in Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Venezuela, Peru, and Uruguay. In his introduction to the 1959 exhibition catalogue, Gómez-Sicre described his intention for the works to demonstrate that “the creative talents of Latin America have acquired a world vision which enables them to express national themes in subtle accents, rather than by raw, literal reproduction.”

Today visitors can enjoy these works from South American Art Today with the benefit of hindsight on the 20th-century movements that surrounded mid-century artists. The art historical context of Abstract Expressionism is readily apparent. Color, scale, and gestural brushstrokes predominate in this throwback to 1959.

Emily Schiller is the Digital Collections Content Coordinator 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 lovingvincent.com)

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 lovingvincent.com)

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.

Louise Nevelson online and onstage

WingSpan Theatre Company is celebrating its 20th season with a particularly artistic debut: OCCUPANT by Edward Albee. The play explores the life of artist Louise Nevelson, whose work is in the Museum’s collection. Nevelson is known for her wood sculptures composed of boxes filled with found items and covered in black paint, like Diminishing Reflections VIII (Left & Right).

Discover more about Nevelson’s work in the DMA’s newly enhanced online collection and on the stage this fall!

Edward Albee’s Occupant: “A tantalizing interview with the ghost of American sculptor Louise Nevelson, as only Edward Albee could imagine it!”

“But when I fell in love with black, it contained all color. It wasn’t a negation of color. It was an acceptance. Because black encompasses all colors. Black is the most aristocratic color of all. . . . You can be quiet and it contains the whole thing. There is no color that will give you the feeling of totality. Of peace. Of greatness. Of quietness. Of excitement. I have seen things that were transformed into black, that took on just greatness. I don’t know a lesser word.” —Louise Nelson

Louise Nevelson, Diminishing Reflections VIII (Left & Right), 1964, painted wood, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, anonymous gift, 1964.112.a-b.FA, © Estate of Louise Nevelson / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

 

Art in Motion

In its simplest definition, animation is the process of making something static look like it is moving. Throughout its hundred-or-so-year history, animation has been an art form deeply rooted in the practices of drawing and sculpture; until recently, the illusion of motion was achieved by creating countless drawings, paintings, or clay sculptures that differ slightly and then filming them in sequential order at a rate of up to 24 frames per second.

In the early days of animation, master artists like Walt Disney and a talented team of illustrators created feature-length films by rendering each frame by hand. A few of Disney’s classic illustrations are part of the DMA’s permanent collection of American art. Even as recently as the last ten years, hand-drawn characters have factored into Disney’s animation process, and the company has always offered free life drawing classes to their artists to help them achieve the most realistic sense possible of how the human body looks and moves.

Walt Disney, Sneezey, date unknown, color celluloid drawing, Dallas Museum of Art, 1938.23, © Walt Disney Productions

In 1995 the art and business of film animation experienced a sea change with the release of Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story, the first completely computer-generated animated film. Since Toy Story, computer animation has been the norm and technology has advanced at an exponential rate, with each new film demonstrating leaps in CGI capabilities. Animated films have become a multibillion-dollar industry that commands more Academy Award nominations than ever before.

Walt Disney, Mickey Mouse, date unknown, photograph of color celluloid drawing, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Walt Disney, 1948.7, © Walt Disney Productions

Now, 22 years after Toy Story, where does film animation stand as an art form and an industry? How does North Texas fit in? On Thursday night, KERA’s Jerome Weeks will speak with a few leaders in the North Texas animation scene: Bryan Engram of Brazen Animation, Brandon Oldenburg of Flight School Studio, and Midori Kitagawa from UT Dallas. Join us for State of the Arts and take a fascinating look into an art form that is at once looking back and ever-evolving.

Jessie Frazier is Manager of Adult Programming at the DMA.


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