Archive for May, 2018

Art as Spectacle

With all of the exciting openings and events currently taking place at the Museum, it’s interesting to pause and take a look back at installations from our past—especially this one highly ambitious execution that included a lagoon!

David McCullough, Baggie Mantra Sanctorum March, June 12, 1971

On Saturday, June 12, 1971, artist David McCullough executed a performance sculpture around and in the Fair Park Lagoon.

McCullough conceived of the project as a one-act play to be “performed” by himself and his assistants. Musicians were also on-site improvising music in reaction to the performance.

David McCullough, Baggie Mantra Sanctorum March, June 12, 1971

The sculpture consisted of large plastic bags filled with clear or colored water connected by a nylon cord. The performance consisted of a procession of the baggies from the far side of the lagoon, across the water, and along the bank, ending at the Museum steps. The sculpture remained on view for about a week after the performance.

David McCullough, Baggie Mantra Sanctorum March, June 12, 1971

David McCullough, Baggie Mantra Sanctorum March, June 12, 1971

More information about the work can be found in the press release.

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

Six Centuries Unabridged

Word & Image: Works on Paper from the 15th through 20 Centuries, on view in the DMA’s level 2 European Galleries, focuses on artists who blurred the boundaries between art and text, and uniquely explores this dynamic progression as it developed across Europe for over six centuries. Each of these works, selected from the DMA’s permanent collection, have a rich and diverse history. While many were originally intended as personal objects for private use, others were made for mass production on the open market or for a select group of art connoisseurs. Several of these pieces have not been on view for several years, if ever.

Here’s a close look at a few of the objects on display:

15th-Century German Artist, David and the Ark of the Covenant, page from the Cologne Bible, late 15th century, published in Cologne, Germany, printed by Heinrich Quentell and Bartholomäus von Unckel, hand-colored woodcut on paper, Gift of the Dallas Print Society. 1937.18

What is this page from?
This page was removed from a copy of the Cologne Bible, printed in Germany. The Cologne Bible was one of the most ground-breaking evolutions in book design. We take for granted today that a book may be produced with as many pictures as a writer or publisher desires, scattered however and wherever across the page. In this period, only the upper-class could afford elaborately designed manuscripts. Even these opulent books followed a traditional standard of production with images set either above or below the text, or separated completely on another page. The Cologne Bible shocked viewers with over 100 images that break directly through the text.

How was it made?
Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press lead book production out of the Middle Ages and into the Early Modern era. This page was assembled using individually cast letters and symbols covered with an oil based ink. Its woodcut illustration was created using a relief printing technique, in which a woodblock is carved with a chisel or gouge and inked with a roller. The sunken, cut-away areas received no ink and appeared white in the print. Color was added after the page dried. This addition of pigment also signals the wealth of the patron.

William Hogarth, The Five Orders of the Periwigs, 1761, etching on paper, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Mrs. Alfred L. Bromberg, 1984.194.FA

What inspired this work?
In 1748, the antiquarians James Stuart and Nicholas Revett announced that their important work The Antiquities of Athen Measured and Delineated was soon to be published. However, the first volume only made it to press in 1762, with the second appearing around 1789 or 1790. Nearly 40 years after their announcement! Here, Hogarth plays on the annticipation of the long wait for their work, with the opening line “In about Seventeen Years, will be completed” at the bottom. This may have been more lighthearted than really biting, as James Stuart was claimed to keep a copy of the print on a fire screen in his parlor to show visitors.

Who are we looking at?
This complex etching is organized by row based on the five classical orders: Doric, Tuscan, Iconic, Composite, and Corinthian. He arranges the wigs like a display in a shop window with each line corresponding to the five social classes who wore them. Notice at the bottom, there is a sixth additionial order for aristocratic women. The characters wearing the wigs were recognizable individuals, including William Warburton at the very top left turned in profile, Bubb Doginton below him, and the Queen Charlotte and Countess of Northumberland on the bottom line.

Olga Vladimirovna Rozanova, Authors: Alexei Kruchenykh, Velimir Khlebnikov, text and Illustration from A Game in Hell, 1914, Second Edition, published in St. Petersburg, Printed by Svet, Nevski Prospect, 136, lithograph on paper, Dallas Museum of Art, The Art Museum League Fund in honor of Mr. and Mrs. James H. Clark. 1978.75.4

What is it?
This second edition of the Futurist book A Game in Hell is quite different from the first in binding technique, lettering type, illustration, and its further additional 292 verses. A Game in Hell is an extended poem about a card game going on between devils and sinners in hell. Artists Olga Rozanova and Kazmir Malevich collaborated with writers Alexei Kruchenykh and Velimir Khlebnikov to create a completely new work filled with more lively devils and sinister characters. While Malevich did three drawings and the cover, Rozanova dominates the character of the book with over twenty compositions and marginal figures.

What influenced this piece?
During the early 20th century, there was a dominant Russian peasant population, influencing Futurist interests in handmade books and folk-like imagery. The poetics of play and chance manifested in the aesthetics of early Russian avant-garde as a rebellious method of making art without rules. Futurist books were the perfect marriage of physical object and literary expression, which created a true merging of art and word.

Beth CreMeens is the Dedo and Barron Kidd McDermott Graduate Intern for European Art at the DMA

We’ve Come a Long Way!

Since 1977 the International Council of Museums (ICOM) has promoted an annual International Museum Day, on or around May 18, to highlight how “museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples.” Beginning in 1992, ICOM has created a theme for the annual event. The theme for 2018 is Hyperconnected museums: New approaches, new publics.

With this theme in mind, I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at one of the DMA’s earliest attempts at hyperconnectivity, our forays onto the Internet.

In 1993 the DMA was one of the first museums to go online with a gopher site, a text-based site of menus and documents, and a listing on Compuserve, the first major online services provider. The Museum also acquired two email addresses for staff to use, monitored by library staff members.

DMA website, circa 1994-1998, Homepage

DMA website, circa 1994-98

In January 1994 the DMA launched its first website. The DMA was one of the first five museums to go online with “click and view” access for visitors, presenting 200 images of collection objects. This site was hosted on University of North Texas (UNT) web servers. The DMA site was named one of the 1001 best Internet sites by PC Computing magazine in December 1995.

DMA website, circa 1998-2003, Homepage

DMA website, circa 1998-2003

By 1996, the Museum was outgrowing its UNT site and created an Internet Committee to evaluate the website and brainstorm content and ideas for what the site could be. This work resulted in the launch of a new website on DMA servers with a DMA domain name, DallasMuseumofArt.org, in the summer of 1998.

DMA website, circa 2003-08, homepage

DMA website, circa 2003-08

Since this time, the DMA website has continued to evolve in design and with new technological capabilities. The website underwent major redesigns in 2003, 2008-09, 2013 and, most recently, summer 2017 with the new enhanced Collections Online. All of these redesigns had the goal of providing more content and general information for the Museum’s multiple audiences in an easier-to-use package. DMA.org will continue to evolve with these same goals for future users.

DMA website, circa 2008-13, homepage

DMA website, circa 2008-13

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

Hello Again

The DMA Sculpture Garden is a treasure of American urban landscape. It was designed by two giants of 20th century design: architectural pioneer Edward Larrabee Barnes and the visionary Modernist landscape architect Dan Kiley, who said of the project, “For us, setting a stage for art was as crucial as the pieces themselves.”

This courtyard, first opened 35 years ago, features the fantastic sculpture created specifically for this space by the artist Ellsworth Kelly and is the perfect stage for the art. It has been admired by countless visitors from our community and has been host to many DISD student field trip lunches through the years.

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The Sculpture Garden’s iconic Ellsworth Kelly statue

After six months of renovations, it is such a pleasure to open it up again for their– and your – enjoyment!

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At last week’s reopening event for the Sculpture Garden, the Ellsworth Kelly statue – back in the original space that Kelly himself chose – was a popular site to behold.

Universal Languages – SOLUNA 2018

As part of the annual SOLUNA festival, on Sunday, May 13, experience a work of art combining visual and musical elements. Inspired by Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Argentinian artist Lihuel Gonzalez’s Las personas no van juntas (They Just Don’t Match) examines the efficacy of translation between languages and between language and music and features Dallas Symphony cellist Jeffrey Hood.

Lihuel Gonzalez, Las personas no van juntas (They Just Don’t Match), 2016, video installation and musical activation, 8 minutes. [image source: lihuelgonzalez.com].

In Las personas no van juntas, González gets at the heart of the difficulty of communication. This is true on a much broader, universal level, but it is particularly germane to the subject of González’s work: the arts and philosophy. This video installation and performance enacts how art is almost always experienced after being subjected to layers of translation. Films or literature or libretti are translated from one language to another so that audiences around the world can access them. And written or spoken interpretation often accompanies visual art or music (as is the case in this very text). In this work, monitors show a speech being simultaneously translated from one language to another, almost like a game of telephone, before a musical composition created of that speech by a computer is played on stage by a cellist. Whew, you might think, I’m lost. Luckily, as González shows us, gesticulations and facial expressions bridge cultures, as does art, which at the end of the day, is one of the true universal languages.

Las personas no van juntas (Activación N2) from Lihuel González on Vimeo

Anna Katherine Brodbeck is The Nancy and Tim Hanley Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at the DMA.

Dancing Queen

Even though all of the art hanging on our walls and that sit behind glass are stationary, it doesn’t mean the subjects were staying still. For our Second Thursdays with a Twist in May, we are letting everyone be a Dancing Queen for the night with dance performances, charades, dance instruction and art making with movement! We were very inspired by the pieces in our collection that are busting a move; check out a few examples below.

This dancer doesn’t need a partner, she’s making moves all by herself:

John Singer Sargent, Study for “The Spanish Dancer”, 1882, Watercolor, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Margaret J. and George V. Charlton in memory of Eugene McDermott © Image courtesy Dallas Museum of Art

You can’t talk about dance without including Degas, someone who focused many major paintings on delicate ballerinas:

Edgar Degas, Ballet Dancers on the Stage, 1883, Pastel on paper, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mrs. And Mrs. Franklin B. Bartholow, 1986.277

The Divine Dancer in Hindu religion, Shiva dances to the beat of the universe surrounded by the flames of destruction:

Shiva Nataraja, 11th century, Arts of Asia, bronze, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mrs. Eugene McDermott, the Hamon Charitable Foundation, and an anonymous donor in honor of David T. Owsley, with additional funding from The Cecil and Ida Green Foundation and the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund © Image courtesy Dallas Museum of Art

There are very few sculptures that look like they are having as much fun as this bronze break-dancer:

There are very few sculptures that look like they are having as much fun as this bronze break-dancer.
Joel Shapiro, Untitled, 1981–1984, bronze, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Exxon Corporation © Joel Shapiro / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

You can almost hear the soothing sound of a guitar that’s making this couple sway to the music:

Katie Cooke is Manager of Adult Programs

What’s next in the Quadrant Galleries?

We bid farewell to Edward Steichen’s In Exaltation of Flowers this week. The lavender walls and gold-leafed canvases will go off view on May 13 and the space will be prepped to hold a selection of newly acquired posters from the Guerrilla Girls Portfolio Compleat (opening May 26, more details provided in a future Uncrated post).

Fortunately, two new installations of contemporary art will open the same weekend the Steichen exhibition comes to a close. In the Stoffel Quadrant, eleven large sculptural works will adorn the walls and floor. Lynda Benglis’s Odalisque (Hey, Hey Frankenthaler), a colorful river of poured latex, is representative of the scale and non-traditional materials explored by this selection of artists. Elise Armani, the McDermott Intern for Contemporary Art, chose these works, all of which were created by women whose work resists the crisp geometries associated with the male-dominated Minimalist movement. Instead, Armani wants viewers to recognize the ways each piece interacts with its surrounding and raises questions about the relationship between works of art, physics, anatomy, and psychology. Contemporary culture, environmentalism, and daily routines are critiqued in works by Annette Lawrence and N.Dash. Lawrence draws attention to the proliferation of junk mail and wasted materials by transforming strips of paper into a wall relief. Dash’s blackened, folded paper sculpture is the result of her methodical handiwork aboard the New York subway.

Another group of works by women artists will be on view in the Stoffel Quadrant (formerly home to Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Room). The installation, Soft Focus, will contain nearly thirty photographs drawn from the DMA’s permanent collection and local lenders. Some images, like Kunie Sugiura’s Central Park 3, broaden the traditional understanding of photography by relying on alternative applications of light sensitive materials. Also included will be an example of Diane Arbus’s iconic approach to portraiture. Other photographers whose works will be on view are women who participated in mainstream art movements but rarely received equal critical acclaim as their male counterparts.

images: Lynda Benglis, Odalisque (Hey, Hey Frankenthaler), 1969, poured pigmented latex, Dallas Museum of Art, TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art Fund, 2003.2 © Lynda Benglis / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY; Annette Lawrence, Free Paper 12 / 05, 2006–2008, mixed media, Dallas Museum of Art, Charron and Peter Denker Contemporary Texas Art Fund 2008.100.A-E © Annette Lawrence; N. Dash, Commuter (New York, 2013), 2013, graphite and paper, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Bonnie L. Pitman in honor of Deedie Rose and Catherine Rose 2016.63; Kunie Sugiura, Central Park 3, 1971, photo emulsion and acrylic on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Lay Family Acquisition Fund 2016.11.1; Diane Arbus, Untitled, 1968, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, Polaroid Foundation grant 1975.82 © Estate of Diane Arbus

Emily Schiller is the Head of Interpretation at the DMA


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