Archive for June, 2013

Reclining Nymph Gets a New Name

You may have heard that we recently reattributed a Baroque sculpture in the Wendy and Emery Reves Collection to the artist Giovanni Bonazza. Here’s an interview with Olivier Meslay, associate director of curatorial affairs at the DMA, explaining how he discovered the true artist of Reclining Nymph:

For additional information on the sculpture and its reattribution, you can read the full press release here or see the work up close, and for free, on view in The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection on Level 3.

Friday Photos: Animal Guardians

The Indonesian galleries are probably the safest area of the Museum, and I don’t say this because there are nearby fire extinguishers or emergency exits. These rooms, particularly the south Indonesian gallery, are protected by a multitude of ferocious animal guardians.

The aso is a mythical animal that combines the strengths and characteristics of a dog and a dragon. This pair of aso, carved from wood, are both regal and elegant with their upright, smooth bodies, and yet intimidating with their dragon-like spirals and bared teeth.

Pair of mythical animals (ask)

Pair of mythical as0, Kayan people, Malaysia, 19th century, Dallas Museum of Art, The Roberta Coke Camp Fund and the Museum League Purchase Fund

The body of two conjoined aso form the handle of a door, which served as a protective barrier in a traditional Kayan longhouse.

Door with protective symbols, c. 1850-1900, Indonesia, Dallas Museum of Art, The Roberta Coke Camp Fund, 1997.111

Door with protective symbols, Kayan people, East Kalimantan, Indonesia, c. 1850-1900, Dallas Museum of Art, The Roberta Coke Camp Fund

One more work of art, not pictured here, also features carved aso. Come to the DMA and look for the aso‘s signature spiral forms, serrated teeth, and ivory eyes. If you visit during a week that the Pop-up Art Spot is stationed in the south Indonesian gallery (for instance, July 9-14), be sure to pick up a scavenger hunt so you can find the other animal guardians in Indonesian works of art.

Melissa Gonzales
C3 Gallery Manager

Marfa State of Mind

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Marfa, Texas is more than just those mysterious lights (though they are pretty magical). I was lucky enough to visit the artistic oasis recently, and though I never left the state of Texas, I truly felt like I was transported to another place and time. Marfa is a small city located in the high desert of far west Texas, near Big Bend National Park. Founded in the early 1880s as a railroad stop, the town was transformed into a cultural destination thanks to artist Donald Judd. Upon relocating to Marfa from New York City in 1971, Judd acquired the decommissioned Fort D.A. Russell and began transforming the site’s buildings into exhibition spaces. His intention was to create a location in which he could permanently install his artwork and present it to the public.

It takes a great deal of time and thought to install work carefully. This should not always be thrown away. Most art is fragile and some should be placed and never moved again.” –Donald Judd

Judd’s ideas took shape as The Chinati Foundation formally opened to the public in 1986. When I first visited the museum I was struck by the absolute vastness of the space.

The Chinati Foundation

The Chinati Foundation

The Chinati Foundation is located on 340 acres of land. The art collection includes 15 outdoor concrete works by Donald Judd, 100 aluminum works by Judd housed in two converted artillery sheds, 25 sculptures by John Chamberlain, an installation by Dan Flavin occupying six former army barracks, and works by Carl Andre, Ingólfur Arnarsson, Roni Horn, Ilya Kabakov, Richard Long, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, David Rabinowitch, and John Wesley. Each artist’s work is installed in a separate building on the museum’s grounds. When Judd renovated the buildings, he attempted to retain the integrity of the original structures as much as possible, only adding components that he deemed necessary. One of these was windows: the walls of the converted artillery sheds feature floor to ceiling windows. This alteration maximizes natural light and space and allows the surrounding landscape to meet and converse with the aluminum boxes that reside inside the sheds.

The location of The Chinati Foundation site–named after the surrounding Chinati Mountains–was extremely important to Judd, who, as a minimalist artist, believed strongly in creating works which are inextricably linked with the surrounding landscape. Judd fell in love with the desert landscape surrounding Marfa, and saw it as the perfect space for his art. “Too often,” Judd said, “the meaning of a work of art is lost as a result of a thoughtless or unsuitable placement of the work for display. The installation of my own work, for example, as well as that of others, is contemporary with its creation, and the space surrounding the work is crucial to it. Frequently as much thought has gone into the placement of a piece as into the piece itself.” (Quote from the Judd Foundation)

Donald Judd, Untitled, 1988 Dallas Museum of Art, Museum League Purchase Fund, General Acquisitions Fund, H. Harold Wineburgh Fund and gift of an anonymous donor

My trip to magical Marfa opened my eyes to the artistic passion and work of Donald Judd, but on a larger scale, it also invited me to reflect upon the decisions behind how works of art are displayed. I think of Judd’s Untitled piece that the DMA owns: six symmetrically divided rectangular boxes forming a column over eighteen feet high, made from cool industrial surfaces. My only experience with this work of art is seeing it displayed inside the white walls of the DMA, alongside work from other artists.

The time I spent in Marfa not only made me wonder how this particular Judd work would look exhibited alone against a desert backdrop, but furthermore, it made me question whether more works of art should be exhibited in the Judd manner–surrounded only by works from that artist and in a structure that complements its artistic intent.

I now turn this question to the public: is there a work of art in the DMA’s collection that you would like to see exhibited differently? And if so, how would you like to see it displayed?

Artwork Shown:

  • Donald Judd, Untitled, 1988, Dallas Museum of Art, Museum League Purchase Fund, General Acquisitions Fund, H. Harold Wineburgh Fund and gift of an anonymous donor

Danielle Schulz
Teaching Specialist

Listening Hard: Remembering JFK on Record

The tragedy surrounding President John F. Kennedy’s 1963 trip to Texas inspired many songwriters to remember and honor JFK through song. Listening Hard: Remembering JFK on Record is an audio-video installation produced by Alan Govenar featuring songs of a variety of genres produced in the months after Kennedy’s assassination. Swing by the C3 Theater during the run of Hotel Texas: An Art Exhibition for the President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy to experience these songs.*

Listening Hard: Remembering JFK on Record, Alan Govenar, © Alan Govenar

Listening Hard: Remembering JFK on Record, Alan Govenar, © Alan Govenar

Uncrated chatted with Alan, founder and president of Documentary Arts and the installation’s producer, to pick his brain about his creative process and vision for this work. Join us at the DMA during our July Late Night on Friday, July 19, at 7:00 p.m. to hear Alan discuss his installation.

When did you begin researching JFK memorial songs?
It was 1975, so nearly forty years ago. I had heard about the Mexican-American corridos and started gathering the records when I could find them. I had written a lot about blues and jazz, and this was part of it.

What was the impetus for this project?
The piece was originally commissioned by the International Center of Photography. Brian Wallis, Chief Curator at the ICP, has organized a show of photographs, JFK November 22, 1963: A Bystander’s View of History,  that look at the assassination from the viewpoint of bystanders.

All of the singers are in a way personalizing their relationship with President Kennedy, either as friend or savior, champion of the downtrodden, the advocate for the forgotten or the disenfranchised. The songs juxtapose that sense of feeling a personal relationship with the president and the great sense of loss, the tragedy of his killing.

You’ve referred to this installation as an “experience.” How do you envision DMA visitors experiencing this installation?
All of the songs are topical. All were released on record. Most were written within days of the assassination. The installation is an audio loop, and the anchor, or punctuation point, is an eyewitness account released on an LP within days of the assassination. A man just saw the assassination, and someone put a microphone in his face and asked him what he saw. He was panicked, on the verge of crying. He had his five year old standing next to him. He was ready to pounce on top of him to protect him because he thought there was a maniac on the loose. That sets a certain stage for the rest of the piece, which is startling and haunting. But, there’s an aspect of the songs that has you smiling. It throws you back in time and place. Much of what the piece is about is perception and memory.

What was your creative process behind the image of JFK that continuously dissolves into images of record labels?
It has a meditative kind of effect, seeing that image reappearing. In some senses, I intended it to be reassuring, comforting, but also, it’s a memorial. It’s like looking at a tombstone. Those slow dissolves into the record labels that go in and out of JFK’s face are haunting, I think because of the idea that he was shot. It’s a complex, emotive kind of experience.

What was the most surprising thing you discovered?
The most surprising part of my research was the sheer vastness of songs written about John F. Kennedy in so many musical genres. People felt compelled to write them. People felt like their feelings needed to be expressed. A song in the installation called The Tragedy of Kennedy, by the Southern Belle singers recorded in December 1963, ends with:

Let me tell you people what we better do,
Keep our minds on Jesus for he’s a President, too.

It identifies Kennedy in that role, as a great savior who was martyred.

Why do you think Kennedy was memorialized through such diverse musical genres?
Corridos extol the virtues of the president who excited our passion to bring equality to all. The blues singers could identify with the sadness everyone was feeling. Country songs are often about mortality. It fit neatly into traditional music forms, where the way people were feeling could be expressed.

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* “Listening Hard” runs in the C3 Theater at designated times during Museum hours and is included in free general admission.

Andrea Vargas Severin is the Interpretation Specialist at the DMA.

Summer Art Camp Fun!

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Summer campers looking closely at artwork in the galleries

The DMA galleries are filled with red apron clad kiddos as we embark on our third week of Summer Art Camps. Offered to children between the ages of four and twelve, our camps have something for everyone! From fashion design to printmaking, music to performance art, campers discover all types of media during their stay at the DMA.

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Screen-printing in Design Studio camp

Using the DMA’s collection as inspiration, campers have painted their own Pollock-esque paintings; made storybook-inspired creations; crafted lampshades and screen-printed t-shirts; connected with great peacemakers of the world through art-making; and concocted art-centric performances–complete with costumes and stage sets!

Getting ready for the big end-of-camp performance!

Getting ready for the big end-of-camp performance!

Our camp teachers are local artists, art teachers, musicians, storytellers, and DMA staff. While each teacher introduces different projects and focuses on different themes, the one thing that unifies all camps is that they are based on works of art in our collection. Whether its an impromptu gallery performance, a direct representation of an artwork during art-making, or a conversation in reaction to a unique object, the campers creativity is certainly sparked during our time spent in the galleries.

Talking about objects from the Body Beautiful exhibition in Once Upon a Time camp

Talking about objects from the Body Beautiful exhibition in Once Upon a Time camp

Summer’s not over yet, so you can be sure we’ll keep the summer art camp fun and creativity flowing through the upcoming weeks!

Amanda Blake
Head of Family, Access, and School Experiences

End of the Trail

mozley sign

We are in the final days of the Loren Mozley: Structural Integrity exhibition. It is rare to see these works by the Texas modernist on view together, so don’t miss your opportunity to visit this free exhibition, on view through Sunday, June 30.

Friday Photos: Terrific Teen Docents

Our Teen Docents were back in action this week as they spent two days at the Museum for training. We led mock tours, ate lots of pizza, and created 3D sculptures inspired by 2D artworks. Here are some photos from our time together.

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This summer, we have 52 Teen Docents from high schools around the Metroplex. They are creative, funny, and caring students who love art and the DMA. I feel so lucky to get to work with this inspiring group of students every year!

Shannon Karol
Manager of Docent and Teacher Programs

Culinary Canvas: Ancient Cakes (Pemma)

In honor of our current exhibition The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece, I thought it would be fun to explore ancient baking this month. The general word for cake is pemma in Ancient Greek or libum in Latin. Several texts survive which mention different types of ancient cakes, but the actual recipes themselves are much more elusive. Roman writer and statesman M. Porcius Cato recorded one such recipe for libum in his De Agri Cultura, a sort of practical manual for farmers. Using Cato as a starting point, I created this simple recipe with ingredients and materials available in the ancient world. Similar honey-cheesecakes would have been given as offerings to the gods or perhaps enjoyed during a wedding feast. Hera, the Greek goddess of women and marriage, may have even enjoyed one herself.

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Head of marble figure of Hera
Roman period, AD 30–180, from Agrigento, Sicily
GR 1873,0820.740 (Sculpture 504)
© The Trustees of the British Museum (2013). All rights reserved.

Pemma

Yields 10 small cakes
Level: Easy

8 ounces goat cheese
¼ cup honey, plus more for drizzling
1 egg
¾ cup spelt flour or all-purpose flour
½ cup sliced almonds, toasted

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Allow goat cheese to soften slightly on counter. Crush toasted almonds with mortar and pestle.

In medium bowl, beat together goat cheese and honey with a whisk or wooden spoon. Add egg and continue beating until smooth. Sprinkle in flour and mix until just incorporated. Mix in crushed almonds.

Drop batter by large spoonfuls onto baking stone. Cover stone with aluminum foil and bake 26-30 minutes, until cakes begin to turn light brown. Allow to cool just slightly on stone, then transfer cakes to separate dish. Drizzle warm cakes with additional honey until each is saturated.

 

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Batter on baking stone

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Cakes drizzled with honey

Recipe inspired by Cato’s ancient recipe for libum.

P.S. – If you love the ancient world as much as I do, you won’t want to miss An Illustrated Course: The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece, a two-night course taught by our own Director Maxwell L. Anderson. DMA Friends can redeem a reward to attend the course for free, and then earn even more points for attending. I’ll see you there!

Sarah Coffey
Assistant to the Chair of Learning Initiatives

DMA’s Cinderella Inspires New Show

In honor of Thomas Sully’s birthday on June 19, we sat down with William Keyse Rudolph, the DMA’s former Associate Curator of American Art. Now the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Dudley J. Godfrey, Jr. Curator of American Art and Decorative Arts, William is currently organizing a retrospective exhibition of the artist. Sully (1783–1872) was born into a theatrical family in England but made a career in America, capturing in paint many of the leading actors and actresses of the time. The exhibition will feature many of these portraits as well as his “fancy pictures”–paintings made for mass appeal, with literary, artistic, and/or imaginary subjects. While at the DMA, William acquired Cinderella at the Kitchen Fire for the collection; the painting will be featured in the traveling exhibition and accompanying catalogue.

Thomas Sully, Cinderella at the Kitchen Fire, 1843, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Pauline Allen Gill Foundation

Thomas Sully, Cinderella at the Kitchen Fire, 1843, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Pauline Allen Gill Foundation

1. You were quoted in Art and Antiques magazine as saying that the DMA’s Cinderella at the Kitchen Fire took your breath away the first time you saw it. Why is this? Why do you consider this work Sully’s “finest fancy picture”?

For one thing, the picture is bigger than you expect. It’s nearly four feet by five feet. It was hanging on the wall of an art dealer’s office, surrounded by books, clutter, papers–and it just jumped out at me, even with all that distraction. It’s a beautifully painted, delicate picture, full of all sorts of grays and pinks that never reproduce well, but that are knock-out in person. And to be honest, it has this great big wonderful orange and white cat frolicking with Cinderella almost right at front and center. At that time, I had an orange and white cat, so the die was cast. I had to love it! And to be fair, former DMA director Jack Lane’s first words upon seeing an image of the painting were “Look at that cat!” He’s a cat person, too. We were also very fortunate that Mrs. Pauline Gill Sullivan, who had been a great benefactor of the DMA, saw the painting when we brought it to the Museum on approval and very graciously agreed to fund its acquisition. Besides having her own fine collection of European and American art, Mrs. Sullivan had a wonderful track record of making acquisitions available to the Museum, such as the commanding 18th-century portrait by Ralph Earl and a really dreamy late 19th-century Frank Duveneck painting of a woman in a red hat, so I was grateful that she responded so well to a big fairytale scene, which was out of her comfort zone in terms of the artist, size, and subject matter.

2. Did you have an interest in Sully and his paintings prior to this acquisition?

Yes. I had lived, worked, and gone to graduate school in Philadelphia for ten years before coming to the DMA, so I was well aware of Sully. He is so closely linked with the city of Philadelphia, where he worked for about sixty years, that it is almost impossible to spend time in Philly and not run into his work in virtually every cultural institution, from museums to libraries and hospitals.

3. How does it make you feel knowing that a key acquisition you made while working at the DMA will now be featured in Milwaukee’s exhibition and catalogue? Was it difficult to leave Cinderella behind?

I am, of course, thrilled! Cinderella at the Kitchen Fire actually gave birth to the show. After I acquired the work, my colleague Carol Eaton Soltis (a curator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art) and I began to talk about why this work was so interesting, which led to us proposing a show at the DMA that examined Sully’s total career: portraits as well as fancy pictures like this one. That show, which we began working on in 2005, was originally scheduled for 2009-2010 but ultimately didn’t happen due to timing and other issues. So we are really happy that years later the idea for the show was able to travel with me to Milwaukee and can now finally be seen here and then at the San Antonio Museum of Art. And yes, it was very difficult to leave Cinderella behind. You never, ever forget your first acquisition, and she was mine. I have missed her every day since I left the DMA, and I’m ridiculously excited to have her back with me for a brief time. If you ask gallery attendants at the DMA who remember me, they will tell you I used to go talk to her in the galleries. So my team here has been warned about that! I will probably burst into tears when she comes out of her crate and I see her again.

4. Since Sully also specialized in portraiture, is there any evidence that the figure of Cinderella was based on a real person?

Carol Soltis and I are convinced that the model for Sully was his daughter Rosalie, who posed for many of his works, several of which will also be in the show. She was a very talented painter herself, who died young.

5. Cinderella was painted when Sully was 60 years old. In your opinion, did it bring him the success and attention he hoped for in his later years? Did it help him attract new clients?

Yes and no. Sully hoped to sell the painting much faster than he did. He exhibited it several times in the Northeast and it was made into an engraving, but it took a few years to actually sell to a collector. One of the fascinating stories of this exhibition is how the fancy pictures like Cinderella functioned for Sully as a way to try to counteract the effects of economic crises on the portraiture market. Works like Cinderella were attempts to keep himself in front of the public, which he hoped would both result in sales of the subject pictures and remind clients that he could still turn it on when he wanted to.

6. A later version of Cinderella was (at least at one time) in the collection of Thomas Sully, Jr., of Naples, Florida. Is he a descendant of the painter? Did you ever track down this painting and will it be part of the exhibition and/or catalogue?

He is a descendant. I’ve seen an old reproduction of this picture, and I actually suspect it was the work of one of Sully’s grown children, whom he trained as artists. For that reason, I’ve never really worried about tracing it, as the DMA has the best one. What I’d be curious to see someday is another version of Cinderella done later that apparently shows her with the fairy godmother, but that one is completely obscure and only listed in Sully’s register. If anyone knows where it is, I would love to see it!

7. Do you know yet which works in the exhibition will be installed near the DMA’s Cinderella?

I don’t know exactly where the painting will go in the gallery, but it will be part of a section devoted to Sully’s fancy pictures. So she will live near an amazing picture of Little Nell Asleep in the Curiosity Shop from the Free Library of Philadelphia, which is based on Charles Dickens; and a gigantic, dramatic painting based on a scene from the early American novel The Pilot by James Fenimore Cooper that we’re borrowing from the Birmingham Museum of Art in Alabama. All three of them will be stunning together, and all were painted around the same time.

Thomas Sully: Painted Performance will be on view at the Milwaukee Art Museum October 11, 2013-January 5, 2014, and then at the San Antonio Museum of Art February 7-May 11, 2014. I hope some of the DMA’s visitors who love this painting will come see the show in one of these places to help celebrate this important painter and this really beautiful picture that the DMA family has been so quick to adopt as a favorite. And thank you to Sue Canterbury, Maxwell L.  Anderson, and all the DMA family for making her available for loan.

Reagan Duplisea is the Associate Registrar, Exhibitions at the DMA.

Make This: Collagraphs

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For our Urban Armor workshop this month, we focused on different printmaking techniques. We made some awesome block prints using linoleum blocks that we carved and ran through the printing press. We also played around with collagraphy, a fun and easy technique that you can do at home without a press or any other expensive materials.

In collagraphy, you collage an image to create a “plate.” You will then transfer the image from the plate by coating it with ink and pressing it against a new surface. The effect you get is different from a block print–it won’t be as clear, but you’ll get a neat, atmospheric-type of image. Keep in mind that, since you’re creating the plate out of paper, it won’t be as durable as linoleum or other materials, which will limit the number of times you can use it. Remember too that your print will be a mirror image, so if you plan to include text, make sure that it reads backwards on your plate.

What you need:

  • Collage materials (scrap paper, magazines, fabric scraps, etc., but nothing too thick)
  • A pair of scissors or x-acto knife
  • Glue
  • A pencil
  • Heavy paper (heavy drawing paper, watercolor paper, cardstock)
  • Smooth paper for printing (copy paper works in a pinch)
  • Gloss medium
  • Brush
  • Printing ink (I use water-based ink, available at craft stores)
  • Brayer (optional)
  • Paper plate for spreading ink
  • Baren or large spoon for burnishing
  • Scrap cloth or paper towels

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Step 1: Make your plate

Create a collage on top of your piece of heavy paper–this is the image that will be printed. Experiment with layering things on top of each other; this will give your print different effects. Let the glue dry completely before moving on to the next step.

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Cutting out designs

Collaging the plate

Collaging the plate

Step 2: Seal your plate 

Cover the entire plate with a thin layer of gloss medium. This creates a durable, smooth surface that will give you a good ink transfer and allow you to use the plate multiple times.

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Sealing the plate with gloss medium

Step 3: Ink your plate

When your plate is dry, coat the surface with ink. You can do this with a brayer: put a dime-sized amount of ink on your paper plate and then roll it out with the brayer. Now roll the inked brayer across the surface of your image. If you don’t have a brayer, no worries! I dipped a paper towel into my ink and then wiped it onto my plate–it worked just as well. Whichever method you choose, be sure to wipe off excess ink in areas you don’t want printed using your scrap cloth or paper towels.

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Inking the plate

Step 4: Print your plate 

Flip your plate face-down onto your piece of smooth printing paper. Using your baren or spoon, burnish the back of the plate. Then, carefully peel it away from the printing paper. Voila! If you want to print in a different color, wipe your plate off with a damp paper towel.

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Burnishing

Final print: note that it is a mirror image of the plate

Final print: note that it is a mirror image of the plate

Remember that printmaking is an experimental process. Prints created from the same plate can look vastly different depending on how much ink you use, the pressure you apply when burnishing, etc. Part of the fun for me is not knowing exactly how each print will turn out! So I encourage you to make as many prints as you can, experiment, and have fun!

JC Bigornia
C3 Program Coordinator


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