Archive for July, 2015



After Hours

Have you ever wondered what museum curators do to relax and unwind at the end of their day? For Olivier Meslay, the DMA’s Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs, one of his favorite things is to look through online versions of auction house and gallery catalogs. What seems like a bit of a “busman’s holiday” worked to our advantage a few months ago.

Cover to Audap & Mirabaud’s catalog for 21 November 2014 auction

Cover of Audap & Mirabaud’s catalog for November 21, 2014, auction

It all started on a stormy night early last November when he clicked on the website for the Parisian auction house Audap & Mirabaud. On their homepage was the lovely self-portrait by Paul Claude-Michel Carpentier (1787-1877), a lesser-known French painter, sculptor, and engraver who had exhibited at the Salon between 1817 and 1838.

The painting that caught Olivier’s attention is signed and dated 1833, and Carpentier exhibited it at the Salon the following year. For some time, the DMA had been seeking to purchase a large-scale 19th-century Salon portrait, and this one fit the bill. It was to be auctioned in Paris on November 21, and, as it happened, Olivier would be in France on the day of the sale, but not in Paris. Luckily, he had plans to be in the glorious city a few days beforehand and found an occasion to examine the painting.

Paul Claude-Michel Carpentier, Self-portrait of the artist and his family in his studio, 1833, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O'Hara Fund, 2014.38.FA

Paul Claude-Michel Carpentier, Self-portrait of the artist and his family in his studio, 1833, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O’Hara Fund, 2014.38.FA

It was as impressive as he had hoped, and so he registered to bid. The only remaining problem was that at the precise time of the sale he was to be at a conference in a city four hours away. About mid-morning on November 21, he discreetly slipped out of his meeting for a few minutes to bid by telephone on the artwork. To our great fortune, he was the high bidder. All of his maneuverings were worthwhile.

When he returned to Paris a few days later, to his great surprise, he learned from an agent with Audap & Mirabaud that a small, fully realized preliminary drawing of the portrait had become available. He bought it on the spot.

(left) Study for “Self-Portrait of the Artist and his Family in his Studio,” c. 1833, pencil on paper, private collection (right) Paul Claude-Michel Carpentier, Self-portrait of the artist and his family in his studio, 1833, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O'Hara Fund, 2014.38.FA

(left) Study for Self-portrait of the artist and his family in his studio, c. 1833, pencil on paper, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Olivier Meslay, 2015.20.FA; (right) Paul Claude-Michel Carpentier, Self-portrait of the artist and his family in his studio, 1833, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O’Hara Fund, 2014.38.FA

Having the opportunity to place a highly detailed drawing next to the executed painting is quite rare. It provides us with the chance to delve into the artist’s creative process and study any last-minute compositional changes made between the two works. In this case, we learn that in the completed painting, Carpentier rearranged the sculptures in the background, while in the foreground he added the yellow and red paisley shawl draped over the back of the chair on which his daughter,r wearing a blue dress, rests her arm.

Another exciting aspect of these purchases is that it presented us with an opportunity to learn about Carpentier’s life. One of the most immediate revelations happened shortly after the painting arrived at the DMA. Much to our surprise, we discovered a small slip of paper affixed to the back of the frame. On the very old sheet were handwritten details (in French, of course) about Carpentier; his wife, Adèle; and daughter Clémence.

Note

Slip of paper affixed to upper rail of the back of the frame with details of the artist’s immediate family and descendants.

As our research about Carpentier progressed, we unearthed some very intriguing discoveries. While he was quite active in the Society des Beaux-Arts, advocating for various artistic mutual aid societies, he was also an accomplished theoretician and technician of encaustic painting. The ancient process of adding pigment to melted beeswax, which dates back to antiquity, fascinated Carpentier throughout his lifetime and culminated in his authoring a detailed treatise about the technique that artists still consult today.

Notes en cire

Cover of Notes sur la peinture: a la cire cautérisée procédé encaustique by Paul Carpentier

Most interestingly, we discovered that one of his closest friends was Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre (1787-1851), the French artist and photographer recognized for inventing the eponymous process of photography. As a testament to their mutual admiration, Carpentier made a painting and bust of his good friend, but more importantly, in 1855 he wrote a monograph about Daguerre that to this day remains the single greatest firsthand contemporary account on the birth of photography.

Knowing more about Carpentier, and turning back to his self-portrait, we see that in it he brought together people and things that held an important place in his life. While we discovered valuable information about the painting and artist, we also learned that we all gain when our Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs relaxes at the end of a busy day by surfing the Web. Visit the newly conserved painting in the DMA’s Level 2 European Art Galleries, included in free general admission, today!

Martha MacLeod is the Assistant to the Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs and Curatorial Administrative Assistant for the European and American Art Department at the DMA.

Bastille Day at the DMA

Today is France’s national holiday, what we Americans like to refer to as Bastille Day. The date marks the storming of the Bastille in 1789, an event which ignited the French Revolution. Much like our July 4th, the holiday is a day to celebrate national pride in France with food, music, and fireworks. Here in Dallas, you can join in the celebration and commemorate our city’s own French connection at Bastille on Bishop.

But before you head to Oak Cliff this evening, stop by the DMA–we’ve got a few revolutionary works of our own on view in our European galleries on Level 2.

Jean Antoine Theodore Giroust, The Harp Lesson, 1791,Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O'Hara Fund

Jean Antoine Theodore Giroust, The Harp Lesson, 1791, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O’Hara Fund

This grand new acquisition is a portrait of Louise Marie Adelaïde Eugénie d’Orléans, daughter of Louis Philippe Joseph d’Orléans. Although the Duke of Orléans was one of the wealthiest French aristocrats and cousin to King Louis XVI, he desired a more democratic government and supported the ideals of the French Revolution. Unfortunately, however, the Duke was not able to escape the Terror, the most violent period of the French Revolution, and met his fate at the guillotine in 1793.

Jean-baptiste Greuze, Portrait of Jean-Nicolas Billaud-Varenne, early 1790s, Dallas Museum of Art, anonymous gift

Jean-baptiste Greuze, Portrait of Jean-Nicolas Billaud-Varenne, early 1790s, Dallas Museum of Art, anonymous gift

Jean-Nicolas Billaud-Varenne rose to power during the French Revolution, becoming a member of the governing body that oversaw the new republic. He was an active participant in the Terror, the violent time when thousands who were considered enemies of the new state–including the Duke of Orléans–were executed by guillotine.

Pierre Nicolas Legrand,  A Good Deed is Never Forgotten, 1794-1795, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O'Hara Fund

Pierre Nicolas Legrand, A Good Deed is Never Forgotten, 1794-1795, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O’Hara Fund

This painting shows Monsieur George, an aristocrat imprisoned during the Terror and subsequently released, gratefully greeting his former prison guard. Monsieur George has returned to the prison with his wife and servant to thank the guard, who had generously provided financial support to the family during his imprisonment. Liberté, égalité, fraternité, indeed!

Joyeux Le Quatorze Juillet!

Sarah Coffey
Education Coordinator

An Unlucky Month

For the fourth year in a row, we have heard rumors that at our next Late Night on Friday, July 18, another mysterious murder will take place at the DMA! It seems like July is an unlucky month for works of art in our collection.

Last year, over two thousand visitors participated in our Museum Murder Mystery Game during Late Night! If you were one of those super sleuths, you found out that it was Emma in a Purple Dress who killed Queen Semiramis in the Chinese galleries with the Bird macaroni knife from the American galleries.

And while Emma in a Purple Dress was brought to justice, we will need your help to once again uncover the dastardly goings on at the DMA.

It will be up to our visitors to solve this fourth Museum Murder Mystery by figuring out who the murderer is, the weapon he or she used, and the room where the murder took place.

For one night only, the seven works suspected of the murder will come to life and answer your questions. Without revealing who the suspects are, as they are innocent until proven guilty, these photos will give you a clue to their identities.

 

In addition to the Museum Murder Mystery Game, there will be a lot more mysterious and fun things to do during the Late Night; be sure to check out the full schedule of events.

 

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

Let’s Play Favorites

There’s a lot to see in the DMA’s collection, so this summer we made it easy for you to view a selection of our highlights. From ancient to contemporary, from paintings to masks to sculptures, our #DMAfaves will have you exploring every floor of the Museum. Grab a #DMAfaves self-guided tour at the Visitor Services Desk and hunt for our twelve #DMAfaves throughout the DMA.

Earn Friends points by checking in each time you find one of our #DMAfaves in the galleries. In addition to points, you’ll also receive a fact about every piece of art you find. Not familiar with our Friends program? Find out more here.

Friends Fact Pueblo Woman with Guide

Earn the #DMAfaves Friends badge by finding all twelve!

 

DMAfaves_71

 

We want to know your favorite pieces in our collection too! Take photos of your own faves, tag them with #DMAfaves, and post them to social media. We’ll share your pictures on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts all summer long.

 

Paige Weaver is Marketing Manager at the DMA.

The Signs They Are A-Changin’: Bilingual Museum Signage

FullSizeRenderLast week, while vacationing in San Juan with my family, we stopped by the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico. When I travel to a new city, I always like to visit the museums to see their collections and learn about their educational initiatives. Puerto Rico is a US Territory, but it’s quite a different place than any of the fifty states. Though my family is bilingual, I’m a non-Spanish speaker, so I was pleased to learn that Puerto Rico is bilingual. Many residents speak both Spanish and English and, to my delight, all of the museum signage was bilingual! As a museum educator who has been involved in making signage more accessible, it was amazing to walk in and find that everything from the museum map to the artwork labels were in both Spanish and English. (Click on the images below to enlarge.)

 

Last year Steve Yalowitz wrote a guest post on Nina Simon’s blog about the significance of bilingual signage. As co-author of the Bilingual Exhibit Research Initiative, which strove to better understand bilingual labels from the visitor perspective, Yalowitz offered these three points as significant findings:

  1. Code-switching – We found lots of evidence of effortless switching back-and-forth between English and Spanish….The power of bilingual text is that it’s bilingual – it provides access in two languages, and code switching lets you understand and express yourself from two different perspectives, with two sets of vocabulary.

  2. Facilitation – We researched intergenerational groups, so it’s not surprising that many of the adults saw their role as facilitator as essential to their own and the group’s success in the exhibition….With Spanish labels available, adults were able to facilitate, guiding the conversations and interactions, showing their children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews where to focus and how to interact. Adults who were previously dependent on their children could now take the lead as confident facilitators.

  3. Emotional reaction – This study found that the presence of bilingual interpretation had a profound emotional effect on the groups. Groups said they enjoyed the visit more, felt more valued by the institution, and many said having bilingual interpretation changed how they felt about the institution.

When I read Yalowitz’s article last year, it opened my eyes to the experiences of non-English speakers in museums with English only text. But the experience was made even more tangible as an English speaker visiting the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico. Had the text only been in Spanish, I would have had to ask my daughter or significant other to translate for me. This would not have been impossible, but rather inconvenient. If I stopped to look closely at a work of art that they were not interested in, I would have to call them back and interrupt their experience to get assistance understanding the label. Having bilingual text allowed me to take on the role of facilitator, reading the label and prompting my daughter with questions, and allowed my family to switch between Spanish and English comfortably. Furthermore, going beyond bilingual label text and providing bilingual directional signage was significant as well: we were each able to easily and equally participate in the entire museum experience.

Over the last few years, the Center for Creative Connections (C3) has begun to incorporate bilingual text and voices in a variety of ways. This initiative began soon after the DMA moved to free general admission. With this change in our admission policy, our overall number of visitors and the diversity of those visitors increased. The need for accessible signage for Spanish speakers was apparent, so in late 2012 we started to test out the use of bilingual prompts at the C3 Art Spot.

This was the perfect place to start because it is one of the busiest spaces in the Center for Creative Connections. It was also easy to begin using bilingual text in these kinds of prompts because these signs typically change more often and are easier to alter than more permanent wall signage. In 2014, we began to use bilingual activity prompts in the main C3 Gallery as well. This is a prompt for an activity where visitors use a light box and reproductions of works of art from the Museum’s collection to create hybrid creatures.

These small steps have been leading up to a bigger change. This year when we installed our Community at LARGE project, both English and Spanish text was included not only in the table prompt, but also on the wall text.

IMG_7413

As we continue to install new works of art in the Center for Creative Connections, our hope is to integrate bilingual text throughout the space.

Jessica Fuentes
C3 Gallery Manager

Mrs. International

Mrs. International 1989 contestants visit the DMA.

Mrs. International 1989 contestants visit the DMA.

I was searching the archives for a fun photo to share and decided on the above. Unfortunately, like many photos in the archives, it was essentially unidentified, because in this case, I discovered that the photo was misidentified.

The caption on the back of the photo reads “Mrs. America #18 1980.” I tried to find some additional context by using the The Dallas Morning News archives, something along the lines of ‘Mrs. America contestants visit museum,’ or even ‘Mrs. America pageant held in Dallas,’ but there was nothing. A search for the history of the Mrs. America pageant showed that it was held in Las Vegas, so a visit to the DMA seemed highly unlikely. Then, with both the pageant and date now in question, I took a closer look at the titles on the sashes, and searched for “Mrs. Texas International.”

I was now fairly certain that the women in the photo were contestants in the Mrs. International pageant, which was also licensed as Mrs. USA, but I still didn’t have a date. I started to search the states visible on the sashes of the  Mrs. International pageant participants in hopes of identifying one of them to determine the date. Luckily for me, the Mrs. Ohio website came through and included past winners with photos. I was able to identify Mrs. Ohio as 1989 winner Ruth Coffman, thus providing the date for the photo.

In addition to an amusing image, this became a fun way to demonstrate just one of the many types of things I do in the DMA Archives.

Hillary Bober is the Archivist for the Dallas Museum of Art.

Friday Photos: George’s Dog Days of Summer

Today’s post is from George Costanza Blake, a spunky Westie who belongs to DMA staffer, Amanda.

g pic 2 (1 of 1)

Sun’s out, tongues’ out, ya’ll!

My human leaves me at home each day to spend time in a place where I am not allowed, but that doesn’t stop her from getting my PPOV (puppy-point-of-view) on her work. She has incorporated me into many aspects of her job, from dressing me up as George Washington (George PAWshington, as I like to call him) and as dapper gent Woodbury Langdon, to organizing a day for dogs in the Dallas Arts District – complete with doga (dog yoga). She is totally obsessed with me.

Unless you’re a service dog, we canines aren’t allowed inside the DMA…what do they think we’re going to do, chew on the art?! My friend Echo (guide dog extraordinaire to artist John Bramblitt) has been to the DMA many times and has told me that the works of art are doggone drool-worthy. Check out this PAWsome video of Echo – she is quite the gal. IMG_4441While there are many reasons for humans to paws and enjoy artwork depicting four-legged fur-balls in the DMA galleries (check out this post for my top dog picks), how are creative canines supposed to experience it? Simple, young pups – admire it outside! The DMA has several works outside for us art dogs to appreciate. Check out some of my fur-friends and me hamming it up at the DMA. Who let the dogs out, indeed!

Darcy found a colorful mural at the DMA to add to her growing collection of mutt mural portraits, Luna color-coordinated her cute bandana with DMA artwork, Chaussettes found the perfect backdrop to show off her styled new summer cut, and sweet Jane stopped for the PAWparazzi on her daily jaunt around the Museum.

These hounds are always up for an arty party. Explore the pawsibilities of spending your next dog day afternoon sniffing out some artwork – sit, stay, and then snap a photo or two!

Until next time,

George Costanza Blake
Canine Museum Consultant

Smile!

Stars and Stripes

This fourth of July we are celebrating the stars and stripes in the DMA collection. The DMA is open tomorrow, July 4th, and the entire weekend, so come explore the collection for free!

 

Kimberly Daniell is the Manager of Communications and Public Affairs


Archives

Twitter Updates

Flickr Photo Stream

Categories