Posts Tagged 'Dallas Museum of Art'



Fashion in Vogue

Even though Irving Penn’s work in the exhibition at the DMA encompasses several subject areas (e.g., still life, portraiture, travel, and commercial photography), he is most widely known for his work in the fashion industry. His fame in this arena is well deserved, both for how he revolutionized the practice of the fashion shoot itself and for the simplified, bold, and elegant sophistication of the images he captured.

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Prior to Penn’s arrival at Vogue magazine in the 1940s, fashion shoots were organized around a contextual approach—meaning he had to design a “set” that provided a context or narrative for the clothes the model would be wearing. It was theatrical as well as being a lot of work. It didn’t take long before Penn abandoned that practice and adopted instead a stripped-down approach that peeled away all extraneous and distracting details. By using plain backgrounds, all the emphasis shifted to the models and the haute couture designs they wore. The designers loved it!

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When you look at Penn’s fashion photography, two strong characteristics dominate: an emphasis on form, or the silhouette, that is quite sculptural in its effect; and, the powerful sense of feminine independence of the modern woman. The latter was no accident. In Penn’s eyes, models weren’t just clothes hangers but rather intelligent and perceptive individuals for whom he had a great deal of respect. Consequently, these images come off as portraits, which is what Penn considered them to be, thus explaining why he always included their names in the titles.
The model for whom he likely had the greatest respect was the Swedish-born Lisa Fonssagrives, who is today considered to be the world’s first supermodel. The rapport and connection between them is palpable whenever she is looking into the lens of the camera. She was not just his muse; she also became his wife in 1950, just before they left New York to shoot the Paris collections.

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When Penn arrived in Paris in 1950, he set up on the top floor of a photography school. It was a daylight studio—meaning he used only the natural light that poured through the bank of north-facing windows. An abandoned theater curtain provided the softly mottled background for the shots. The studio and the stairwell up to it became a buzzing hive of activity as couriers arrived and departed. By bicycle, they ferried elaborate ensembles from the fashion houses of Dior, Balenciaga, Rochas, and Molyneux. Once the shoot was complete, they furiously pedaled their way back across town with their precious cargo.

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The photographs from that iconic Paris shoot are stunning for their simplicity and originality. Rochas’ curve-hugging mermaid dress and Dior’s wonderful nipped-waist black suit were all about the silhouette. Penn’s idea to concentrate on details of other designs was equally brilliant. His close-up shots of the gorgeous gathered sleeve of Balenciaga’s coat, or the distinctive pocket on a coat by Molyneux, drew attention to the superior design as well as the craftsmanship of the individuals who made them.

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Penn’s contribution to fashion photography set a standard that shaped not only the practice but also the industry itself. Many would adopt a simplified approach to the fashion shoot. Even today, other photographers, aspiring or established, stand in the long shadow of Penn’s legacy, borrowing his ideas or even re-creating some of his most innovative shots, like a nod of admiration to the creative genius of one of the 20th century’s greatest masters.

Celebrate Penn’s birthday tomorrow evening with the launch of our summer Thursdays and enjoy buy-one-get-one-free tickets to Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty. Strike a pose from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. and take home your favorite Penn-inspired memories with free prints made onsite from your Instagram account.

Sue Canterbury is The Pauline Gill Sullivan Associate Curator of American Art at the DMA.

Frida in Fresco

In March the Level 4 galleries overlooking the Atrium warmly welcomed a familiar face: Frida Kahlo. The DMA is lucky to have on loan two self-portraits of the famed Mexican artist, but there is something that makes one of these portraits unique in the artist’s oeuvre and a rare treasure on view at the Museum. Self-Portrait Very Ugly, as Kahlo lovingly titled her work, is a fresco—one of just two prepared by the artist during her career, and the only fresco on view at the DMA.

Traditionally, fresco painting is done on wall surfaces; however, the 20th-century movement of Mexican muralism revolutionized the medium to allow for smaller, portable murals made up of plaster panels just like Kahlo’s. The fresco painter uses water-based pigments on a freshly plastered wall, painting only what can be completed in a work day, or giornata. The binding of the pigment with the surface of the wall results in a monumental, durable image. While Kahlo’s husband, Diego Rivera, used the fresco technique in his practice as a muralist, Kahlo was unaccustomed to the speed and spontaneity required to complete a fresco. A slow, meditative process in oil painting better suited the artist, whose work is deeply introspective. The multilingual insults surrounding her face give us a hint of her displeasure with both her image and the technique, which she abandoned immediately.

The damaged fresco panel from 1933 presents a rare opportunity for visitors to see an underrepresented medium at the DMA, and an incredibly rare work by the well-known Mexican artist. See the loaned fresco work, and an accompanying Kahlo self-portrait, Itzicuintli Dog with Me, 1938, at the DMA for a limited time.

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Frida Kahlo, Self-Portrait Very Ugly, 1933, fresco on plasterboard, private collection

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Photograph of the fresco taken shortly after its completion in 1933 and before its damage.

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Color copy of the fresco painted by a friend of Kahlo and assistant to Diego Rivera, Lucienne Bloch. Notice her initials “LB” in the lower left-hand corner, above Kahlo’s shoulder. This color copy and the black-and-white photograph give us an idea of what the completed fresco looked like.

 

Erin Piñon is the Early Texas Art Research Associate for the DMA 

DMA BFFs

What makes a best friend? There are some common traits associated with a BFF: someone who knows you better than anyone else, someone who accepts you, someone who is honest and forgiving, someone who listens and offers advice, and someone who is trustworthy. We all have best friends, so it isn’t surprising that artists do too. But it is special when two artists share that closeness because their friendship influences each other’s work. In honor of National Best Friends Day, we are highlighting some of the artistic friendships represented in the DMA’s collection.

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

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Emile Bernard, Breton Women Attending a Pardon, 1892, oil on cardboard, Dallas Museum of Art, The Art Museum League Fund 1963.34

Vincent van Gogh and Emile Bernard met in the mid-1880s, when Bernard was 18 years old and van Gogh 15 years his senior. Both artists were greatly influenced by Japanese art—Bernard by the simplicity and flat forms and van Gogh by the spatial effects, strong color, everyday objects, and detailed depictions of nature. The friends corresponded through mail, often sending each other drawings and discussing their artistic ideas. In 1889, following van Gogh’s highly critical response to Bernard’s Christ in the garden of olives, their correspondence ceased; however, after van Gogh’s death Bernard wrote the first published biography on Vincent van Gogh.

Front

Octavio Medellín, Smoky Celadon, n.d., glazed stoneware, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase, 1949.36

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Carlos Mérida, Dancers of Tlaxcala, 1951, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase, 1951.108

Octavio Medellín met Guatemalan painter Carlos Mérida in Mexico in the late 1920s. The friends traveled together and taught at North Texas State (now University of North Texas) from 1941 to 1942. Though Mérida eventually returned to Mexico, the two remained close friends and influenced each other’s work until Mérida died in 1985.

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Jacob Lawrence, The Visitors, 1959, tempera on gessoed panel, Dallas Museum of Art, General Acquisitions Fund, 1984.174

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Romare Bearden, Soul Three, 1968, paper and fabric collage on board, Dallas Museum of Art, General Acquisitions Fund and Roberta Coke Camp Fund, 2004.11

Romare Bearden and Jacob Lawrence grew up in Harlem following the Harlem Renaissance and were profoundly influenced by the music, literature, and culture of their neighborhood. As young men, both participated in various community-based art classes and workshops in the area and were inspired by writer and philosopher Alain Locke. The two corresponded throughout the years, and some of their letters are available through the Archives of American Art.

Barney Delabano studied under Otis Dozier when he attended Southern Methodist University and then the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts School in the late 1940s. Over time, Dozier and his wife, Velma, came to be Delabano’s close friends. The Doziers would even come to be mentors for Barney Delabano’s son, artist Martin Delabano.

Helen Frankenthaler and David Smith were first introduced by art critic Clement Greenberg in 1950. Throughout their 15-year friendship, they not only visited each other’s studios and corresponded through mail but even vacationed together with their families. They remained close friends until Smith’s death in 1965.

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

 

Interpreting Batiks

We are looking forward to Waxed: Batiks from Java, which will highlight the DMA’s fabulous collection of Javanese batik textiles later this fall. These works will continue the thread (pun absolutely intended!) of displaying textiles on Level 3; previously, Add to, Take Away: Artistry and Innovation in African Textiles explored textiles across Africa.

Batik is a technique of textile decoration that involves applying wax to a fabric by hand with a canting (wax pen) or a stamp. The fabric is then dyed, but the wax resists dying and creates pattern and decoration in the negative. Although the earliest and most simple batiks involved applying only dots of wax, the process has evolved to yield incredibly detailed and complex designs.

Batik tools, like these wax pens, will also be on display in Waxed.  

Batik tools, like these wax pens, will also be on display in Waxed.

Making a batik requires serious creativity, skill, and time. It took several months to complete a design like this cloud motif. If you look closely, you will notice that each cloud form includes six concentric outlines that shift in tone from a deep blue (the innermost line) to white (the outermost line). In order to achieve the variations in color, the cloth had to be dyed and waxed six separate times.

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) [pointed-ends cloud motif (megamenlang)], Indonesia, Java, c. 1910, cotton and commercial dye (?), Dallas Museum of Art, Textile Purchase Fund, 1991.58

The job of “interpreting” textiles—or presenting them to the public in a way that facilitates understanding, piques interest, invokes appreciation, or inspires curiosity (among other things)—is a unique one. Because textiles are everywhere in our day-to-day lives, from mattresses, to clothes, to carpet and upholstery, it becomes necessary to very clearly convey what makes certain textiles so special. For our Inca exhibition last year, we collaborated with University of North Texas professor Lesli Robertson and the students in her class “Topics in Fiber: Community, Culture, and Art.” They created samples of textiles that reflected the very specific weaving techniques of textiles in the exhibition. We discussed the project in this blog post. These samples were such a success in the exhibition that we wanted to collaborate with our UNT colleagues once again for Waxed.

This time, we will work not only with Lesli and two of her recently graduated students but also with Amie Adelman, UNT professor of fibers, and one of her fall classes. The students will collaborate with DMA staff to design and develop an educational display that presents the steps required to produce complex batik designs. Together, we will further explore batik production in 19th- and 20th-century Java, including specific techniques, tools, colorants, and even wax “recipes.” The students will also have opportunities to visit the Museum’s textile storage and view some of the batiks up close, before they are installed in the galleries. By the fall, the students will produce eight to ten batik samples, each illustrating a different step in the process. By breaking down each individual step, our goal is for visitors to gain a deeper understanding of the extensive time, creativity, and planning involved in producing batik. Visitors will be able to learn from looking at these samples, and also from feeling them and touching the wax applied to the fabric.

Sketch of preliminary ideas for educational display

Sketch of preliminary ideas for educational display

We look forward to working with our friends and colleagues at UNT this summer, and we cannot wait to see what they come up with! Stay tuned for more behind-the-scenes pics of this exciting collaboration!

Andrea Severin Goins is the Head of Interpretation at the DMA.

Death Comes to the DMA

Portrait of a Gentleman, possibly a Member of the Deutz Family, Michael Sweerts, 1648–1649, Dallas Museum of Art, The Karl and Esther Hoblitzelle Collection, gift of the Hoblitzelle Foundation, 1987.25

Michael Sweerts, Portrait of a Gentleman, Possibly a Member of the Deutz Family, 1648–49, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Karl and Esther Hoblitzelle Collection, gift of the Hoblitzelle Foundation, 1987.25

This Friday we will host our fifth Museum Murder Mystery Game—and the scuttlebutt going around the Museum is that Portrait of a Gentleman will be the unlucky victim.

It is unfortunate that this keeps happening at the DMA, but we are once again relying on our visitors to help bring a murderer to justice! For this one night only, the seven works of art suspected of the murder will be brought to life to answer questions about their relationship to the victim, possible motives, and their alibi for the time in question.

Without revealing who the suspects are, as they are innocent until proven guilty, these photos will give you a clue to their identities.

 

If  you solve who the murderer is, the weapon he or she used, and the room where the murder took place, you will be entered to win one of five great prize packs.

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

Wine Not?

Since today is National Wine Day, we’ve created some lovely pairings with a few wine-themed objects in our collection. So, whether you are a fan of red or white, we have something for every palate.

The Eight Immortals of the Wine Cup, Momoyama period, Japan, Ink, Pigment On Gold, Pair Of Six-Fold Screens, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc. 1989.78.A-B.McD

The Eight Immortals of the Wine Cup, Momoyama period, c. 1600,  Japan, ink and pigment on gold; pair of six-fold screens, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc. 1989.78.a-b.McD

From Japan we have The Eight Immortals of the Wine Cup, created around 1600. Although this is a Japanese work, the screen depicts an 8th-century Chinese poem about a group of high-class revelers that included politicians, priests, calligraphers, and musicians. In both China and Japan during this period, wine would have been made from rice. Today, we know this wine as sake. So, grab a glass and read this excerpt from the poem, and maybe you, too, can feel like an immortal.

“Su Jin has made a vow to the Buddha embroidered on his vest
but for his drunkenness he takes care to forget all his rules.

Li Tai-bo drinks a gallon of wine, writes a hundred poems
then sleeps it off in the back of a wine shop in Chang-an
when the emperor asked him to board the royal barge
he shouted back, I am a drunken immortal.”

Black-Figure Krater, Attic, Greece, first half of 6th century B.C.E, ceramic, gift of The Jonsson Foundation and Mr. and Mrs. Frederick M. Mayer, 1972.22

Black-figure krater, Greece, Attic, first half of 6th century B.C.E, ceramic, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of The Jonsson Foundation and Mr. and Mrs. Frederick M. Mayer, 1972.22

You can’t talk about wine without talking about the Greeks. Even though they drank various alcoholic beverages like beer and honey mead, their main drink for a good time was wine. Here we have a black-figure krater made in the first half of the 6th century B.C.E. This piece of pottery would have been used to mix wine with water to dilute it for parties. The figures on the krater are Dionysus, the god of wine, and his followers, the maenads. The maenads were said to have been possessed by Dionysus and his drink, and they were therefore able to perform miracles, like having honey come from the ivy-covered staffs they carried. Dionysus and his maenads would want you to open a bottle of Agiorgitiko, which is a bit like a cabernet sauvignon, but please drink more responsibly than these krater characters.

“Embassy” Shape Wine Glass, Edwin W. Fuerst, Walter Dorwin Teague, Libbey Glass Company, 1939, glass, gift of The Dallas Antiques and Fine Arts Society, 1989.18.2

Embassy shape wine glass, Edwin W. Fuerst and Walter Dorwin Teague, designers; Libbey Glass Company, manufacturer; Toledo, Ohio, designed 1939, glass, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of The Dallas Antiques and Fine Arts Society, 1989.18.2

A wine pairing wouldn’t be complete without a glass to go with it. This is Embassy shape wine glass from 1939 was designed by Edwin W. Fuerst and Walter Dorwin Teague for the Libbey Glass Company. The company was not originally known for its blown glassware. Their beginnings were in lightbulbs and car windshield glass; however, throughout the 20th century they became known for their elegant glassware. In the 1970s, they created the first glass ever to be created through a patented “one piece and blow” technique. Today, this shape of glass with a wide mouth is used mainly to drink chardonnay. Even if you don’t have a glass quite like this one, open a bottle of chardonnay while you appreciate the beautiful Art Deco style of the Embassy shape wine glass .

Bacchic Concert, Pietro Paolini, c. 1625–1630, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Karl and Esther Hoblitzelle Collection, gift of the Hoblitzelle Foundation 1987.17

Pietro Paolini, Bacchic Concert, c. 1625–30, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Karl and Esther Hoblitzelle Collection, gift of the Hoblitzelle Foundation 1987.17

The Italian Renaissance was known for its art, music, and architectural genius. It was also a time of considerable wine consumption. In this painting by Pietro Paolini, we see a fairly mysterious scene with party goers, musicians, and someone dressed as the god Bacchus, the Roman god of wine. This scene is thought to have been from a marriage ceremony, where it was not unusual for the performers to dress as Bacchus and his followers. The image is unusual because the woman on the left has her back toward us and the woman with the lute stares directly at us. But, for today, we will just say that these performers are playing us a little tune to go along with a glass of chianti.

Katie Cooke is the McDermott Intern for Adult Programming and Arts & Letters Live at the DMA.

Proud to Be an American

Today the DMA was honored to host 49 individuals from 21 countries as they became U.S. citizens in the Museum’s fourth annual Naturalization Ceremony. The always touching ceremony included performances of our national anthem and America the Beautiful by Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts student Brittany Hewitt, followed by a reception in the DMA Cafe and tours of the American art collection. Here are some images from today’s ceremony.

 


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