Archive for November, 2011

Big Love from Jean Paul Gaultier

You may have heard that the U.S. Premiere of The Fashion World From Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk opened yesterday at the Dallas Museum of Art. But we had a week of pre-opening  events prior to Sunday, including the Press Preview on Thursday morning. Below are a few of our favorite shots from our time with the “enfant terrible”.

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Kimberly Daniell, Public Relations Specialist at the Dallas Museum of Art

Friday Photos: Haute Couture at the DMA

Jean Paul Gaultier is famous for his use of nautical-esque stripes in his designs. For this installment of Haute Couture at the DMA (inspired by the exhibition opening this Sunday) let’s focus our fashion-seeking eyes on the use of patterns within works of art. I love that the idea of a pattern (a repetitive form, order, or arrangement) is so universal that cultures from around the world have been using it for centuries!

Here are just a few of the many examples that you can find in our galleries:

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These are just a few works of art that incorporate patterns. What are some of your favorites that weren’t included?

Jessica Kennedy

McDermott Intern for Gallery Teaching

Images Used:

Tunic with profile heads and stepped frets, Huari culture, Middle Horizon, c. 650-800, Cotton and camelid fiber, probably south coast, Peru, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., in honor of Carol Robbins’ 40th anniversary with the Dallas Museum of Art

Tunic with checkerboard pattern and stepped yoke, Inca culture, Late Horizon, A.D. 1476-1534, Camelid fiber, Peru, South America, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc. in honor of Carol Robbins

Single-spout strap-handle vessel depicting a wounded warrior, Nasca culture, Early Intermediate period, Nasca Phase 7, c. A.D. 500-600, Ceramic south coast, Peru, South America, Dallas Museum of Art, General Acquisitions Fund

Virgin of the Rosary, Attributed to Melchor Pérez Holguín, late 17th-early 18th century, Gold leaf with oil on canvas, Potosí, Bolivia, Dallas Museum of Art, The Cleofas and Celia de la Garza Collection, gift of Mary de la Garza-Hanna and Virginia de la Garza and an anonymous donor

Issun-Tokubei Holding a Spear, Utagawa Kunisada, 1859,Color woodcut, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alfred L. Bromberg

Lise Sewing, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1866, Oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection

Helmet mask (kifwebe), Tempe-Songye peoples, late 19th to early 20th century, Wood and paint, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Africa, Dallas Museum of Art, The Clark and Frances Stillman Collection of Congo Sculpture, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc.

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

Self-Guided Visits: Tips for Teachers

Students enjoy Miguel Covarrubias's Genesis, the Gift of Life

Arranging a self-guided visit for your students is great way to explore the Museum.  It allows your students to encounter the Museum on your terms, observe art at their own pace, and spend more time in front of objects that interests them.  Setting up a self-guided visit is easy, and to ensure that your Museum experience is educational and enjoyable, try these helpful hints:

Getting Started

Sign up for a self-guided visit by filling out an online request form.  If you  have already arranged a docent-guided tour and would like to add a self-guided visit to your Museum experience, send me an email at

Be Prepared

It’s easy to underestimate the importance of logistics.  Save yourself some time and energy by preparing before you visit.  Once you have a date and time confirmed, start considering the layout of your self-guided visit.  If you have a large group, break them up into smaller groups before you visit.  Smaller groups make it easier to navigate through the galleries, and dividing them before you arrive gives you more time to spend in the galleries. 

Have a Game Plan

Most visitors feel that they need to see everything when they come to the Museum.  While every object on display deserves to be seen and appreciated, it’s just not feasible to see everything in our collection, unless you can spare a couple of hours.  Instead, challenge your students to focus on a handful of objects that encompass a topic or theme learned in class.  Short on inspiration?  Check out our online teaching materials for themes used on docent-guided tours.

Students in the European galleries

Be Creative

As teachers, you learn to be creative in just about every situation.  Consider your self-guided visit as another opportunity to show off your inventiveness.  Try adding some of these activities to your self-guided visit:

      • Create a scavenger hunt.  This activity works great with large groups and can be a fun game for all ages.  You can find loads of factual information and teaching tips in our CONNECT teaching materials.
      • Incorporate a sketching activity.  Have students take a closer look by having them sketch an object.  You can incorporate this activity in your scavenger hunt, or have a more in-depth drawing session.
      • Take a smARTphone tour.  Don’t have a smartphone?  Borrow an iPod Touch from the Visitor Services Desk.

Make the Most of Your Trip
After you’ve had plenty of time to gallivant through the galleries, why not enhance your Museum visit by stopping by Center for Creative Connections.  The Center for Creative Connections, or C3, is an innovative space that encourages interactive experiences with art.   There are fun activities for all ages, and you can create a make-and-take art project at the Space Bar. 

Students Sketching in the Galleries

There are many ways your students can experience the Museum, and as a teacher, you are the architect behind their visit.  Remember, encountering art can be exciting and educational, so be sure to have fun!

Wishing you all a terrific Thursday,

Loryn Leonard
Coordinator of Museum Visits

A Pair of Twos: Two Authors’ Take on Two Painters

Part of what’s most fun about working on Arts & Letters Live is getting to hear the buzz about new books several months before they are released. We first heard about Van Gogh: The Life by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith last winter and couldn’t wait for the release. This new biography came out less than a month ago to tremendous acclaim. Leo Jansen, Curator at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, called it “the definitive biography for decades to come,” and the authors were  profiled on 60 Minutes.

We are thrilled to be able to host these two authors for a program at the Dallas Museum of Art on Monday, November 14. They will discuss their new book and the similarities between Vincent van Gogh and Jackson Pollock, the subject of their Pulitzer Prize-winning biography Jackson Pollock: An American Saga.

Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith were gracious enough to answer a few questions for us in advance of their event.

How did you come to tackle Vincent van Gogh as a subject for this book?
While we were still working on our biography of Jackson Pollock, more than twenty-five years ago, we began to think about the next artist we might want to write about. The challenge for a biographer is to find a subject (1) who is significant, in terms of the work he or she has left behind; (2) who led an interesting life; (3) whose life had a particular impact on the work; (4) who left behind enough of a record in order to be able to reconstruct the life; and (5) who hasn’t already been the subject of a definitive, or even a thorough, account. No one met these criteria better than van Gogh. The only hurdle was that we don’t read Dutch, a hurdle got past with the help of eleven translators. 

Other than Vincent van Gogh himself, who is the most interesting figure that you write about in this book?
Theo, certainly. He was easily the most important person in van Gogh’s life. He was Van Gogh’s only consistent source of emotional and financial support. He was an interesting person in his own right – both audacious enough to be one of the first dealers in Paris who showed the work of the impressionists, but also conservative enough to show only work he knew would sell. He was intensely conflicted in his feelings for his brother –fully aware of Vincent’s willingness to take advantage of his generosity, furious that Vincent caused their family so much trouble, and angry that Vincent refused to accept his advice about how to make his work more salable, yet caring for him deeply, utterly.

How do you feel van Gogh’s letters shaped Van Gogh: The Life?
The letters are the starting point for any biographer of van Gogh. They are astonishingly long and detailed, and yet they often have a manipulative intent. Van Gogh usually wanted something from Theo, and he was sometimes elegant, sometimes ham-fisted, in his efforts to cloak his requests. But because of van Gogh’s intermittent self-knowledge, because of his extraordinary intelligence and intellect, because they were written for the most part to one person, and because he didn’t think anyone else would ever read them, van Gogh’s letters open an almost unique window onto a great creative mind.

Sheaves of Wheat, Vincent Van Gogh, 1890, Oil on Canvas, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection

Do you have a favorite work of van Gogh’s? What draws you to that piece?
We have many, many favorites, but one that comes to mind is a painting of underbrush in the Van Gogh Museum collection. It shows both his absolute mastery of color – extraordinary and subtle combinations of browns and purples and blues, hundreds and hundreds of them – and a dazzling display of his command over his brush, and in particular his Sargent-like ability to paint wet on wet.

Tree Roots, July 1890, Oil on Canvas, 19 3/4 x 39 1/4 in. Van Gogh Foundation, Amsterdam.

Have you visited Dallas before? If so, what did you think of the city?
(Steven) Yes, I have a lot of family in Texas – in fact I was Congressman Charlie Wilson’s first intern on Capitol Hill. Dallas has some spectacular architecture, including I. M. Pei’s Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, and the Museum has a first-rate collection, including two key works by Jackson Pollock, Portrait and a Dream and Cathedral. We have not yet seen the Nasher Sculpture Center and are thrilled at the opportunity to see it.

Cathedral, Jackson Pollock, 1947, Enamel and aluminum paint on canvas, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Bernard J. Reis

The November 14 event is sold out but overflow seating is still available in a live simulcast in the Center for Creative Connections Theater.

Katie Hutton is Program Manager of Arts & Letters Live at the Dallas Museum of Art.

To Corset or Not to Corset

With The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk set to open this weekend, fashion is definitely in the air at the DMA. One of the major influences you’ll find in the exhibition and in Gaultier’s work overall is the corset.  From Marie Antoinette to Madonna, for better or worse, corsets have continued to remain a big part of the female fashion arsenal. However, there is one lady in the DMA’s collection who seems to disagree with me: Sarah Sherburne Langdon.

Sarah Sherburne Langdon, John Singleton Copley, 1767. Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc.

In this portrait, painted in 1767, Sarah wears a loose-fitting gown without the requisite corset beneath. At that time in London, a new style was becoming all the rage partly because, just a few years before, the letters of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu were first published. Lady Montagu wrote to friends in England during her travels to Turkey after her husband had been appointed ambassador in 1716. In her letters, Lady Montagu described the odd oriental customs of the Turks, including their different styles of clothing. Upon her death, copies of the letters were widely circulated in England and the Colonies, and a craze for all things Turkish ensued.

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. Letters Of the Right Honourable Lady M-y W-y M-e: Written, during her Travels in Europe, Asia and Africa, To Persons of Distinction, Men of Letters, &c. in different Parts of Europe. Berlin: Sold by August Mylius, 1781. UCLA Charles E. Young Library Department of Special Collections.

So what makes Sarah’s gown Turkish, you ask? The gold embroidery trim and long, white, billowing sleeves evoked the look. But of course, her lack of corset is key. Turkish women could not imagine wearing a corset and were quite confounded by the contraption, as Lady Montagu describes. During her first visit to a local bath, the women kept encouraging her to remove her clothes. In one letter she writes, “I was at last forced to open my shirt and show them my [corset] stays, which satisfied them very well—for they believed I was so locked up in that machine, that it was not in my own power to open it, which contrivance they attributed to my husband.”

Emil Larsson, Body corset worn by Madonna, Blond Ambition World Tour, 1990. Dazed & Confused, April 2008. c. Emil Larsson

In the centuries since Lady Montagu’s letters and Sarah Sherburne Langdon’s portrait, corsets have been similarly vilified as a symbol of female oppression and embraced as a symbol of sexual empowerment. If you’d like to hear more of the corset’s story, join us on Thursday for the exhibition lecture Jean Paul Gaultier: Iconoclasm and Influence. Dr. Caroline Weber will trace the influence of the corset and other elements in Gaultier’s designs. If only Mrs. Langdon could be here to see where fashion has taken us now.

Sarah Coffey
Assistant to the Chair of Learning Initiatives

Mannequins Mouthing Off

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk features over 130 ensembles spanning 35 years of the Jean Paul Gaultier’s career. These ensembles are not simply displayed on static mannequins, but 30 of the works are placed on animated, talking mannequins (including one of Monsieur Gaultier) throughout the galleries. Below are a few behind-the-scenes shots of the installation of these lifelike mannequins. See them in person beginning this Sunday, November 13!

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Friday Photos: Haute Couture at the DMA

Inspired by the Dallas Museum of Art’s upcoming show, The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, I decided to walk around the galleries and find some fashion statements within our own collection. I will start November’s Friday Photo series with a collection of hats that I think even Gaultier himself would have appreciated.


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Jessica Kennedy

McDermott Intern for Gallery Teaching

Images used:

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

The Virgin of the Immaculate Conception,Unknown, late 18th century or early 19th century, Dallas Museum of Art, The Cleofas and Celia de la Garza Collection, gift of Mary de la Garza-Hanna and Virginia de la Garza and an anonymous donor

Crown with deity figures, Chavín culture, Early Horizon, c. 1000 to 200 B.C., Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc.

Warrior with Shield and Bird Headdress, Mexico, state of Nayarit or state of Colima, 100 B.C. – A.D. 100, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene McDermott, the McDermott Foundation, and Mr. and Mrs. Algur H. Meadows and the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated

Wall panel depicting Na-Bolon-K’an in ritual dress, Maya culture, Late Classic period, c. A.D. 790, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Mr. and Mrs. James H. Clark

Edward Nightengale, John Smibert, c. 1722-1724, Dallas Museum of Art, General Acquisitions Fund and gift of Eleanor and C. Thomas May, Jr.

Portrait of a Woman, Attributed to Christian Amandus Gullager, c. 1790, Dallas Museum of Art, The Faith P. and Charles L. Bybee Collection, gift of Faith P. Bybee

Mary Harvey, Mrs. Paul Beck, Jr.,Thomas Sully, 1813, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Pauline Allen Gill Foundation

Rachel Leeds Kerr, Charles Willson Peale, 1790, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Pauline Allen Gill Foundation

Chance Encounters with Mark Bradford

Although Mark Bradford refers to himself as a painter, his pieces are far from traditional.

By using paper instead of paint and replacing brushes with his hands, he has really made this medium his own. Bradford gathers most of his paper materials from his environment, and layers them into thick, tactile, almost sculptural, artworks. By using this active process, he really considers himself more of a maker or creator than an artist. Initially, some of his supplies came from his mother’s salon, where he spent most of his childhood. Later, he ventured out to the streets of his neighborhood and collected flyers, posters, advertisements, and billboard paper. He typically works on eight pieces over eight months, keeping them all in a state of flux as he adds materials and takes them away by tearing, ripping, and sanding. This method of collage and décollage creates compositions that spontaneously reveal bits and pieces of hidden layers. So, as your eyes move across the canvas, you’re never quite sure what you are going to find next.

One thing that really struck me about this process of artmaking is the element of chance involved. From what Bradford happens to stumble upon in the streets, to what ends up exposed in the final product, there seems to be a constant negotiation between choice and chance. As I walked through the galleries, I really enjoyed searching for those moments where you can see the hand of fate working alongside the hand of the artist. What I noticed most were words and phrases that were inadvertently exposed throughout some of his pieces. Below I reveal just some of the chance encounters you could have with his work, but you’ve got to come to the exhibition to find more!

“Oh my god, AHRQ! What if these weirdos don’t like people just dropping in?”

“Whatever you’re getting is fine.”

“Scathingly funny!”

“Close your eyes”


“…But I think I’d rather hang around here.”

“I had confidence in your razor-sharp instincts.”

“That was supposed to be our secret!”

“I see you’ve been having fun…”

Students can have fun with this too. Using seek and find games, there is a lot to discover in these works. It may also be a fun way to reframe their idea of “mistakes” as (what I often call) happy accidents that can be incorporated into their art pieces.

Want to dig into Mark Bradford’s process a little deeper? Come to next week’s Gallery Talk with artist Diedrick Brackens.

Hope to see you all next Wednesday!

Hannah Burney

McDermott Education Intern for Teaching Programs and Partnerships

Closing Celebration for Art in October

Sunday we wrapped up the month-long celebration of the Dallas Arts District, Art in October, with a day full of events throughout the district. The DMA hosted a free Carnival of Creativity and Doggies in the District. Below are few photo highlights from the day.

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Henri Matisse's Ivy In Flower

If you visit the DMA over the next few months, you can’t miss Henri Matisse’s Ivy in Flower, a colorful collage that measures just over nine feet on each side.

Colorful shapes inspired by the collage lead you up (or down) the DMA concourse to Ivy in Flower

Ivy in Flower is a well-known but rarely seen work of art in the DMA’s collection made with colored paper, watercolor, pencil, and brown paper tape on paper mounted on canvas.  In order to preserve and protect a work on paper, the artwork cannot be exposed to light for sustained periods of time.  For that reason, Ivy in Flower has only been on view three times in the last ten years, each time for eight months or less.  It is usually displayed in the European galleries, which are filled with natural light.  This time around, curator Heather MacDonald proposed showcasing the collage in the concourse, where there is not only less light but also plenty of space to tell the interesting history of this work of art.

The story begins with Albert Lasker, who is considered by many to be the father of modern advertising.  Lasker began his career as an office clerk at Lord and Thomas advertising agency in Chicago, and became a salesman, then partner, and eventually the president and owner of the company.  One of his most notable campaigns was for Lucky Strike cigarettes, which served as inspiration for Don Draper’s character in the television series Mad Men.

After his retirement, Albert Lasker began collecting art with his second wife, Mary Lasker.  Following Albert Lasker’s death in 1952, his wife had a mausoleum built for him in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in New York.  Later that year, Mary Lasker commissioned  Henri Matisse to design a window for the back wall of the structure, or more precisely, nine windows that would form a ten-by-ten-foot square.

At this time, Matisse was an internationally-known artist late in his career.  Due to his poor health, he primarily created compositions by arranging shapes cut from heavy paper that he coated with paint.  With the aid of studio assistants, Matisse placed and pinned the shapes until he was satisfied with the composition.  For the Lasker commission and other works from this time period, Matisse chose to create a to-scale maquette rather than small-scale preparatory sketches.

Cutting into color reminds me of the sculptor’s direct carving.

– Henri Matisse

After much correspondence between Mary Lasker and Pierre Matisse, the artist’s son, the final design for the window was ultimately rejected.  Matisse passed away in 1954, and his family had the window executed in glass for a retrospective exhibition two years later.  The window is now owned by The Museum of Modern Art of Vienna.  As part of their original agreement, Mary Lasker retained ownership to the Ivy in Flower maquette until she donated it to the Dallas Museum of Contemporary Art (which later merged with the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, now the Dallas Museum of Art) in 1957.

This is just a short synopsis of the history behind this colorful collageAfterlife: The Story of Henri Matisse’s Ivy in Flower  is on view through December 11, 2011, and includes illustrations of how the mausoleum may have looked with the windows designed by Matisse, as well as images of the people and places in this interesting tale.

Melissa Nelson
Manager of Teaching in the Community


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