Archive for October, 2012

Off the Wall: Where Does It End?

In our Center for Creative Connections we ask visitors to reflect on their responses to the spaces they encounter in art, as well as those they encounter in their everyday life.

For one work of art specifically, Lee Bontecou’s Untitled, we ask visitors to respond to one of three prompts:

  • To me, sharing space with this work of art feels like…
  • The words or pictures that come to mind when I look at this work of art are…
  • If this work of art was part of something larger, describe what it would be.

Untitled (35), Lee Bontecou, 1961

We have gotten a lot of great responses from visitors and want to share a few with you. Once a month we will have an “Off the Wall” post featuring three responses left by visitors.

Next time you are in the Center for Creative Connections add your contribution to the wall and maybe you will see it on Uncrated!

Culinary Canvas: Sarah Bernhardt Cookies

For this month’s recipe, we’re taking a trip through Paris with our new exhibition, Posters of Paris: Toulouse-Lautrec and His Contemporaries. Alphonse Mucha created this poster for Sarah Bernhardt, one of the most renowned actresses of the 19th century. She was so loved, in fact, that a Scandinavian baker named a cookie for her. Though somewhat complex, these multilayered confections are sure to dazzle, much like their namesake and her posters.

Alphonse Mucha, Gismonda, 1894-1895, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Kurt J. Wagner, M.D., and C. Kathleen Wagner Collection, M.87.294.1

Sarah Bernhardt Cookies

Yields about 60 cookies
Level: Advanced


6 ounces good quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
Scant ½ cup sugar
Scant ½ cup water
3 large egg yolks, room temperature
¼ cup heavy cream, room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla extract


3 cups blanched slivered almonds
1 ½ cups sugar
3 large egg whites, room temperature
1 ½ teaspoons almond extract
Splash of water


12 ounces good quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening

Filling: Whisk chocolate in a glass bowl set over a small pot of simmering water until smooth and melted. Remove chocolate from heat and set aside to cool. Combine sugar and water in small saucepan and simmer until syrup becomes clear, about 5 minutes, then set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer set over a small pot of simmering water, whisk egg yolks until warm, about 2 minutes.

Transfer bowl to stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Add cream and beat mixture on medium until combined. Reduce speed and slowly pour in hot syrup. Return speed to medium and continue beating until cool and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add melted chocolate, scraping down sides of bowl as needed until fully incorporated. Refrigerate filling until firm, about 1 hour (or up to 1 week).

Cookies: Preheat oven to 325° F. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place almonds in food processor and process for 1 minute. Add sugar and process into a fine crumb, about 3 minutes. Add egg whites and almond extract and process until mixture wads around blade. Scrape bowl with spatula and add splash of water. Process a few more seconds until paste is firm yet smooth enough to pipe.

Transfer paste to pastry bag fitted with coupler only (no tip). Pipe small rounds onto prepared baking sheet, applying pressure to bag for about 4 seconds per cookie and leaving 1 inch between each. Bake until golden around the edges, about 20 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through. Allow to cool slightly on baking sheet then transfer to metal rack to cool completely.

Once cookies are completely cool, transfer filling to pastry bag fitted with coupler only or with #11 tip. Pipe a peaked mound of filling on top of each cookie. Transfer cookies to freezer until filling is very firm, about 1 hour.

Coating: Whisk chocolate in a glass bowl set over a small pot of simmering water until smooth and melted. Remove from heat and stir in shortening. Cool until barely warm.

Remove cookies from freezer and place on cooling rack. Working quickly so filling doesn’t melt, spoon melted chocolate over cookies until filling is completely covered. Refrigerate finished cookies and serve chilled.


Sarah with a finished Sarah, dusted in gold like her beautiful posters.

Almond macaroon recipe adapted from Baking Illustrated and used with Sarah Bernhardt cookie recipe, adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cookies.

Sarah Coffey
Assistant to the Chair of Learning Initiatives

How to Win an Election

Election season is upon us! Join us at the Dallas Museum of Art on Thursday, October 25, at 7:30 p.m. for a lecture on the ancient Roman election of 64 B.C, when Marcus Cicero won the office of consul, the highest office in the land, with the help of his brother Quintus. Dr. Philip Freeman translated Quintus’ Latin text, How to Win an Election, written to guide Marcus to victory, and discovered the text to be as timely today as it was in ancient Rome. Uncrated caught up with him for a short Q&A and preview:

What piqued your interest in How to Win an Election?

I read the original in Latin back when I was a graduate student in Classics at Harvard. I was struck then by how timeless the advice in the letter was, so I’ve used it since then in my own undergraduate classes with positive responses from the students. A couple of years ago, I decided that it would be great if the general public could read this virtually unknown piece of ancient literature. I was thrilled when Princeton University Press agreed to publish and publicize it!

Does the advice really hold up for the modern-day election? Do you think your book should be required reading for those running for office?

It certainly holds up for today’s elections. Every time I read of a new scandal or technique from the presidential candidates, I think of Marcus Cicero and the election of 64 B.C. I do sometimes worry that modern candidates will apply the principles laid out in the letter, but I think most people running for office today know all the dirty tricks already!

Your work is rooted in the “dead” languages of the ancient world. What is the most difficult thing you have ever translated? And do you think anything is lost in translation?

Every translation is a compromise that loses something of the original. You can try to be painfully literal, but that misses the spirit of the original. You can try to just capture the broad meaning, but that won’t be accurate. I usually compromise and try to take a middle path. How to Win an Election is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever translated because I was struggling so hard to capture the flavor of the letter while staying true to the text.

We’re right around the corner from the next major presidential election. What are your thoughts on our current election process?

I’ve learned that nothing has really changed in 2,000 years. Politicians are still using the same techniques and making the same mistakes.

Any last minute advice you would give the candidates before November 6?

I think Cicero would say never take anything or anyone for granted. Even at the last minute, elections can change completely!

Dr. Philip Freeman is a Professor of Classics at Luther University in Decorah, Iowa. He has been interviewed by NPR’s All Things Considered and has talked on Roman politics across the country. He will lecture on Thursday, October 25, at 7:30 p.m. at the Dallas Museum of Art as part of the Boshell Family Lecture Series on Archaeology.

Liz Menz is Manager of Adult Programs at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Urban Armor: Elements of Art and Skateboard

The DMA’s tween/teen program Urban Armor seeks to integrate works of art, rich group discussion, and art making with an over-arching theme of identity so that students can find relevance and practical application to their lives. This exclusive tween/teen program kicked off the new school year with an awesome class, led by art educator and artist Mark Gutting. The workshop emphasized the elements of art and principles of design in our contemporary collection in order to inspire ideas for students to use in their work—their very own skate deck! The students created custom designs, symbols, and logos and were able to screenprint these designs on the back of a skateboard. While working with him, I gained some great insight on who he is as a teacher and a student. Check out my interview with Mr. Gutting below:

What is your background and why did you decide to become a teacher?

Mark Gutting: “Drawing fills my heart with joy.  I think it started with a doodle in childhood and has kept growing since.  Ten years ago, teaching became a logical direction. Teaching art presents a daily opportunity to share that joy.”

What were you like as a teen?

MG: “I’m sure that I was like any other teen–trying to stand out while fitting in. High school is when I first began to develop a style of my own. The funny thing is, I kept it hidden, like it was some big secret.  I didn’t want anyone to steal my style before I fully developed it!”

What about working with our Urban Armor teen group appeals to you?

MG: “The program’s focus on identity.  I’m not sure there is a more apt theme to being a teenager.  Creativity in any form is a wonderful avenue to discovering one’s identity.”

Is there a difference between teaching students in the museum and in the classroom?

MG: “In my experience, students are students; however, the museum presents a situation that can never be duplicated in the classroom–the gallery walk.  To wind through the galleries, sketching a pattern from a textile, a bead from a necklace, a tool mark from a sculpture, and a brush stroke from a painting, is to mainline inspiration.”

What was the goal of the program on Sunday?

MG: “As an educator, teaching the fundamentals of any subject is vital to building a base of knowledge.  Getting students inspired to learn–while having fun–is no easy task.  There are a multitude of art fundamentals found in skateboard deck art: line, shape, form, pattern, balance, positive and negative space, spatial organization, an endless list really.  I wanted to present the Urban Armor group with a unique project–screen printing a skateboard–while incorporating those fundamental concepts.”

Why skate decks?

MG: “I loved skateboarding as a teen.  The movement–the freedom of it–mesmerized me.  Since I was never good at skating, the deck art became my focus.  I spent many hours drawing my last name into some skull-infested graphics.  Back then, the concept of screen printing was future talk–complete science fiction to me.  I simply wanted to present the Urban Armor group with an opportunity I never had–to screen print an actual skateboard deck.”

What was your fondest memory of this class?

MG: “Getting to see the Urban Armor group experience the process of printing actual skateboard decks was a joy.  Hopefully, some of them will want to build their own screen printing rigs in their parents’ garages and crank out original works of art.  Everyone has to start somewhere!”

Why do you like working at the DMA?

MG: “The programs offered to students at the DMA are instilling a deep love for art and creating a new generation of museum patrons.  Who knows?  Maybe even the next Picasso.”

To find out more about Urban Armor and upcoming workshops please visit the website.

Amanda Batson
Program Coordinator for the Center for Creative Connections

Fourteen Years of TWO x TWO

TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art is an annual contemporary art auction held in the Richard Meier-designed Rachofsky House in Dallas and benefiting two organizations—the Dallas Museum of Art and amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research. The event has raised over $34 million in the past thirteen years, enabling the Museum to acquire more than 125  works of art. October 20 marks the fourteenth annual gala and auction, which features Richard Phillips as amfAR’s 2012 Honored Artist. To learn more about the history of TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art, and this year’s events, including the First Look preview party tomorrow evening, visit the TWO x TWO website. Explore past TWO x TWO events below with guests such as Barry Manilow, Alan Cumming, Patti LaBelle, and more.

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Reading the Cards: Part 1

On a recent trip to New York, I finally had my cards read by a psychic–something that I’ve always wanted to have done!  As she was telling me about a tall, dark, stranger in my future I couldn’t help but notice the vibrant, graphic nature of her card deck. With their flat color planes, Romanesque figures, and dramatic styling, the cards each told a specific portion of the larger tale.

While tarot cards were originally used throughout Europe to play card games, they have become associated in modern culture with mysticism and magic. The deck is divided into two sections: the minor arcana and major arcana. The former is very similar to a modern deck of cards with four suits consisting of ten pip (numbered 2 through 10) and four court cards. The major arcana cards are those most often associated with tarot divination.

This post is my first in a series that will make connections between individual tarot cards and artworks in the DMA’s collection. I’ll share works from our collection that are reminiscent of a card’s imagery or of the card’s meaning in divination practices.

The Chariot is the seventh trump or major arcana card. The card normally depicts a royal figure in a chariot being pulled by horses or sphinxes–one black and one white. A sign of an external battle of wills, the white and black horses often pull in different directions. In a tarot spread, the card can refer to current obstacles or successes in overcoming life’s challenges.

Théodore Géricault, Horse-drawn Cart Full of Wounded Soldiers (Chariot Chargé de Soldats Blessés), 1818, Dallas Museum of Art, Juanity K. Bromberg Memorial Fund and gift of an anonymous donor

This lithograph not only depicts a horse-drawn carriage, but it also exemplifies many of the qualities of the chariot card. Fatigued and wounded soldiers are clearly returning from battle, perhaps even a losing battle. The horses are pulling in so many directions that they are tangling their harnesses and fighting with each other.

Death is the thirteenth major arcana card in a tarot deck. Death is depicted by a skeleton riding a horse and is often shown surrounded by dead and dying people. Despite its name, the card does not represent actual death. Instead, it usually signifies an ending of an era or relationship.

Dakini Vajravarahi, c. A.D. 1600, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of the Virginia C. and Flyd C. Ramsey Fund of Communities Foundation of Texas, Inc.

Adorned with a necklace of skulls and carrying an executioner’s ax, this dakini, a Buddhist female deity, represents the violent aspects of existence. She also embodies the cycle of life, death, and rebirth which celebrates death as a bringer of life.

The Devil is the fifteenth major arcana card. Tarot images of the Devil show him as a satyr-like creature sitting above or on two humans. If selected during a card reading, the Devil represents self-bondage or barriers to leading a full life. Often, these obstacles are interpreted as vices such as materialism, lust, egotism, etc.

Ferdinand Hodler, The Halberdier, 1895, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O’Hara Fund and gift of Nona and Richard Barrett

While Ferdinand Hodler’s The Halberdier actually depicts a Swiss soldier, this image seemed like the perfect choice to represent the Devil. Clothed in a traditional red costume and holding a spiked battle-axe, the soldier evokes several connotations we hold concerning the Devil.

Stay tuned for my next post, which will look at the Emperor, the Empress, the Fool, the Hanged Man, and the Hermit.

Pilar Wong
McDermott Intern for Community Teaching

Seldom Scene: Karla Black at the DMA

Scottish artist Karla Black will open her first solo project at a U.S. museum this Friday at the DMA. For Karla Black: Concentrations 55, the artist has created two sculptures for the DMA’s Hoffman Gallery and South Concourse. See images from the installation process below, and meet Black and see her work at our Late Night this Friday. She will discuss her exhibition at 7:00 p.m. in the Hoffman Gallery.

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