Archive for June, 2016

Day Break

William McKeown, The Dayroom, 2004-2010, A room, a painting, and a drawing, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund, 2015.44.A-C

William McKeown, The Dayroom, 2004-10, a room, a painting, and a drawing, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund, 2015.44.a-c, © William McKeown

In a quiet corner of the DMA’s Barrel Vault, a recent acquisition to our contemporary collection sits inconspicuously in the Hanley Quadrant Gallery. Installed in March as part of Passages in Modern Art: 1946-1996, William McKeown’s The Dayroom references spaces found in institutions associated with illness and aging—hospitals, retirement centers, convalescent homes. Via artificial lighting, washed-out yellow walls, and a confining boxlike structure, McKeown attempts to mimic the disquieting artifice that pervades these rooms, which are often decorated with brightly colored wallpaper and works of art that attempt to cheer up an otherwise morbid space.

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The installation takes the form of a room that initially appears to be little more than a framework of exposed wooden struts, scaffolding, and drywall; however, a window built into the side of the structure frames a direct sightline to a painting hung within the cube, inviting the viewer to enter the interior of the installation.

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Pale yellow walls and cold fluorescent light welcome the viewer into the unsettling interior of The Dayroom. The sickly colored walls illuminated by the harsh sodium light elicit feelings of claustrophobia. The window looks out onto darkness, serving as a reminder of one’s containment and separation from the outside world. Working in tandem, these structural components form a space that situates the viewer in a position of captivity and powerlessness. After all, dayroom occupants are rarely there by choice.

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McKeown’s vision, however, is not one of hopelessness. Hung on the interior walls are a painting and a drawing, both of which function metaphorically as breaths of fresh air within an otherwise suffocating setting.

Left: William McKeown, Untitled, 2004-2010, Oil on linen, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund, 2015.44.A-C / Right: William McKeown, Open drawing – Narrow Lane Primrose #2, 2005, Coloring pencil on paper, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund, 2015.44.A-C

Left: William McKeown, Untitled, 2004-10, oil on linen, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund, 2015.44.a-c. Right: William McKeown, Open drawing – Narrow Lane Primrose #2, 2005, coloring pencil on paper, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund, 2015.44.a-c. Both works © William McKeown.

Untitled is an oil on linen painting that represents a moment of soft early morning light experienced by McKeown. While the painting may appear to be a direct rendering of a sky, McKeown insisted that the work is, in fact, a hybrid image—one that melds an objective documentation of light with his own subjective, emotional response to it.

Installed on an adjacent wall, Open drawing – Narrow Lane Primrose #2 is a colored pencil drawing of a primrose, a flower found in the artist’s hometown in Tyrone County, Northern Ireland. Rendered so faintly that the paper initially appears to be blank, the yellow primrose is set against a stark white background, seeming to sprout, against all odds, out of nothing.

Both works encourage a heightened sensitivity to quiet, often unnoticed natural phenomena—the softness of daylight in early morning, a flower that reminds one of home—all the while providing moments of tranquility and hope within the oppressive interior space of the room. For McKeown, a work of art is meant to elicit a sense of belonging in the viewer. Best explained by the artist, he once said during a lecture at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, “When I paint a painting that has no image or a drawing of an open flower, I try to focus on a moment of inspiration, a moment of not feeling separate from nature or from self, a moment of the awareness of the perception of life, of perfection, of being at home in this world.”

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The structure of The Dayroom frames McKeown’s painting and drawing as liberating objects, suggesting that works of art can, even if only for a moment, transport the viewer to a better, imagined state—one marked by hope, openness, and the warm feeling of belonging.

The Dayroom will be on view at the DMA through March 2017.

Nolan Jimbo is the Temporary Project Coordinator, Curatorial, at the DMA.

Dance, Dance, Baby!

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I first met dance instructor Misty Owens last summer when she partnered with some of my colleagues to present movement-based workshops for visitors with special needs here at the DMA. She brought pool noodles, scarves, inspiring music, and a mesmerizing grace into the galleries, and it was so fun to watch her work with our visitors.

This past spring, I saw her in action once again when she brought her Dance for Parkinson’s Disease class to the Museum for regular visits. Her ability to communicate ideas through movement and encourage even the least-coordinated person (me!) to attempt some dance moves in the galleries is inspiring. The culminating performance for Misty’s Dance for PD group just happened to fall on the same day as a Toddler Art class I taught. As the children trickled out of our classroom space after class, they literally stumbled upon the dance group’s dress rehearsal. The toddlers were mesmerized! They spontaneously sat down on the carpet and became an impromptu audience as the dancers practiced their steps. There were huge smiles (on both the toddlers’ and the performers’ faces), and it sparked an idea—what would it be like to have Misty work with our littlest visitors?

Lucky for me, Misty is willing to try just about everything, and earlier this month, she was at the DMA once more, this time as a special guest teacher for the Art Babies class. The Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty exhibition served as our inspiration, and Misty led caregivers and babies in a lively exploration of Penn’s photography through movement.

We began by looking at Issey Miyake Fashion: White and Black. Misty and I were both taken by the fabric and thought that the peek-a-boo playfulness to the image seemed to be begging for some baby dance moves! Using lengths of stretchy white fabric, we experimented with making shapes with our bodies, played peek-a-boo, and created living sculptures around the babies. One little guy could not stop giggling as his mother wrapped him and unwrapped him in the fabric, surprising him with silly faces.

 

For our next stop, we took a closer look at Frozen Foods (one of my personal favorites from the show!) This time, Misty focused our attention on the different textures in the photo—we noticed the long, straight shoots of asparagus, the rounded pops of frozen berries, and the crackling frozen lentils. Using pool noodles, shakers, and maracas, the babies and parents created their own soundscape for the photo, and moved and danced in rhythm to bouncy melodies. It was a ruckus, but so much fun!

I loved watching the parents and children experience the art in an entirely new way. When the music came on, the babies couldn’t seem to help themselves, and their little legs and arms would start bopping in time to the music. Parents were all smiles and gave themselves permission to be silly as we jumped and reached and swooshed around the galleries. And for me personally as an educator, Misty helped me to approach these works of art with a new eye and gain an even greater appreciation for Penn’s artistry and talent. I noticed textures, shapes, movement, and stillness where I hadn’t really seen them before.

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Lesson learned—a little dance is good for everyone, no matter how big or small!

Leah Hanson
Manager of Family and Early Learning Programs

Riding With the Top Down

John Wise's Rolls Royce convertible, October 1971, John and Nora Wise Papers

John Wise’s Rolls Royce convertible, 1971, John and Nora Wise Papers

It’s summertime again in Texas, perfect for cruising the town in a convertible with the top down. Though convertibles can be useful for more than just feeling the wind in your hair and the sun on your face on a beautiful summer day. Other possibilities include . . .

Moving a large artwork . . .

Dallas artist Heri Bert Bartscht moving a sculpture in his convertible, Heri Bert Bartscht Papers

Dallas artist Heri Bert Bartscht moving a sculpture in his convertible, Heri Bert Bartscht Papers

Or, transporting a llama . . .

Sir Lancelot, a white llama, promoting "World of Ancient Gold" exhibition at the 1964 World's Fair, John and Nora Wise Papers

Sir Lancelot, a pure white llama, promoting the World of Ancient Gold exhibition at the 1964 World’s Fair, John and Nora Wise Papers

But admiring a beautiful Cadillac convertible in air-conditioned comfort is also nice . . .

Hot Cars, High Fashion, Cool Stuff : Designs for the 20th Century exhibition installation, March 31-July 14, 1996

Hot Cars, High Fashion, Cool Stuff : Designs of the 20th Century exhibition installation, March 31-July 14, 1996

Happy summer!

 

Hillary Bober is the Archivist at the DMA.

Silver Rush

Changes are taking place in the Museum’s Conservation Gallery, and those changes include the move of the impressive Wittgenstein Vitrine. Though it only took up residence down the hall, numerous hours and many hands were required to move the turn-of-the-19th-century masterpiece. Watch how 200 pounds of silver and semiprecious stones travels.

 

 

 

Culinary Canvas: Lavender Cookies

Lavender is a plant prized for its healing properties, pleasant fragrance, and–particularly in France–its unique flavor. Fragrant purple fields of these flowers can be found across the south of France, especially in the Provence region. Van Gogh moved from Paris to this area in 1888, to the ancient city of Arles. One September evening, he set up his easel on the square and painted the cafe, which he later translated into this reed pen drawing from the Museum’s Reves Collection. I think these delicate lavender cookies would be the perfect treat to enjoy while sipping a café au lait at this charming spot.

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Vincent Van Gogh, Café Terrace on the Place du Forum, 1888, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection.

Lavender Cookies

Yields about 60 cookies
Level: Easy

2 teaspoons dried lavender, chopped or ground
1 cup sugar
2½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup shortening
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 egg plus 2 egg yolks, room temperature

Preheat oven to 375° F. Line rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, stir together lavender and sugar. Set aside for a few minutes, allowing lavender to infuse. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt.

Add shortening and butter to lavender sugar and beat at medium speed until light. Add almond extract, then slowly incorporate eggs, mixing well until combined. Slowly add dry ingredients to mixer, stirring on low speed and scraping down sides of bowl until fully incorporated.

Using a tablespoon scoop, drop dough onto prepared baking sheets. Bake 9-11 minutes until tops begin to crinkle.

When removed from oven, cookies will look soft and should remain so at room temperature. Allow to cool slightly on baking sheet then transfer to metal rack to cool completely.

Note: Dried lavender can usually be found in the bulk area of specialty grocery stores.

 
Lavender Cookies

Recipe adapted from Taste of Home.

Sarah Coffey
Education Coordinator

Penn v. Zoolander: It’s a Walk-Off!

Sometimes you need a little laughter and a trenta orange mocha Frappuccino to get you through the day. While the second is too difficult to deliver via screen, we are here to help with the first!

Fifteen years ago, Zoolander took pop culture by storm and instantly became a cult classic. And almost a century ago, one of the greatest American photographers renowned for fashion images was born. But what does a fictional model have in common with a distinguished shutterbug? A lot more than you might think!

Fashion aside, Irving Penn and Derek Zoolander were able to take something simple and make it a masterpiece. Be it a simple backdrop or a single pose, they created a phenomenon and neither one let societal norms dictate their art. It took time for their genius to be recognized, but in time all realized the beauty in their unique vision.

Okay, so their similarities may stop there, and we might have been reaching in the first place, but in the wise words of Hansel, “Don’t ask questions. Just give in to the power of the tea.” So if you like fashion and raucous amounts of fun, join us Wednesday night at Studio Movie Grill Spring Valley for a special screening of Zoolander in celebration of Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty and get 10% off exhibition tickets using the code STUDIOMOVIEGRILL.

Cool Story.

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Bernd Becher and Hilla Becher, Coal bunkers, 1978, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Carl, Elizabeth, Stahl, and Laura Urban, courtesy Sonnabend Gallery, New York, 1981.191.9, © 2016 Hilla Becher

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Mario Pascual, Untitled, 2009, digital c-print, Dallas Museum of Art, Lay Family Acquisition Fund, 2010.11.1, © Marlo Pascual

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Jerry Bywaters, Self-Portrait, 1920, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Estate of Jerry Bywaters, 1989.172

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Petra Zimmermann, Woman with dog brooch, 2000, silver, plastic, gold leaf, and antique glass stones, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Edward W. and Deedie Potter Rose, formerly Inge Asenbaum collection, gallery Am Graben in Vienna, 2014.33.348, © Petra Zimmermann

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Koloman Moser, Self-Portrait, 1902, black chalk and pencil on paper, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Alessandra Comini in honor of Adriana Comini, 2014.29

Julie Henley is the Communications and Marketing Coordinator at the DMA.

Friday Photos: DOGgone Good Times

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

Howdy, y’all! I’m so excited to write my second blog post for this fantastic blog. Even though I still haven’t been invited to go inside the DMA to see where my human spends her days away from me, it’s still such a doggone fun place to visit and tromp around outside.

Especially now, since they have a fancy, new outdoor patio cafe that is…dog-friendly! I love going with my family to eat at dog-friendly spots. The outdoor cafe is called Socca and is named after the type of grub it serves – which is a chickpea crepe made PAWpular in southern France, where it is a specialty. Tres chic! The PAWsome thing about Socca, is that it is healthy; humans can add tuna, chicken, lettuce, and my ultimate fave – cheese. Great news for us mutts as we patiently await food dropping from tables. Well behaved dogs on leashes are welcome on the Socca patio – woohoo!

Encompassing Socca is the brand new Eagle Family Plaza, which is a relaxing spot full of lush grass on which to lounge and a fantastic commissioned sculpture called Pas de Deux (Plaza Monument) by British artist Rebecca Warren, which I thoroughly enjoyed gazing up at to admire.

If the new cafe isn’t exciting enough, guess what the Late Night theme is tonight? It’s all about us: four-legged furry family members! If you’ve been working like a dog all week, bring your muttly crew for a evening of fun. Although canine companions aren’t allowed inside the DMA, humans can celebrate the PAWsomeness with pup-focused films (one of my faves, Best in Show – you can’t beat the Terrier Song), to animal-themed tours, live music, and scavenger hunts, it’ll be a PAWsitively rip-roarin’ good time.

I hope to see you rompin’ around the grass-filled surroundings of the DMA soon!

Until next time,

sagarrd

George Costanza Blake
Canine Museum Consultant

 

 

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.

Teen Ambassadors: Coolest Kids in Town

We know all too well that this summer’s going to be a scorcher, so the Museum is bringing back our free Summer Family Fun programs to offer families some seriously cool activities. Each day this summer will feature different experiences for families and visitors of all ages, from Story Times to Art-to-Go Family Tote Bags. We’re not alone in our efforts, though – we have a secret weapon to help families beat the heat. Introducing the next generation of museum educators…the DMA Teen Ambassadors!

Formerly the Teen Docent Program, Teen Ambassadors will lead Community Tours, Family Story Times, and visitor experiences at the Pop-up Art Spot and C3 Gallery this summer. These enthusiastic, art-loving teens attended a two day orientation where they learned how to engage with visitors (especially young ones!) to prepare for their volunteer shifts.

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The 2016 Class of Teen Ambassadors

This year’s class of Ambassadors is pretty impressive, so make sure to catch them in action!

Jennifer Sheppard
Teaching Specialist

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 


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