Expanded for DMA Members: Connections Across Collections: Repurposed Materials

Making the old new by transforming discarded objects into works of art is an integral part of contemporary artist Chris Schanck’s practice, as seen in his dressing table featured in the upcoming Curbed Vanity exhibition and made of found materials from the neighborhood surrounding his Detroit studio. We asked DMA curators what other artworks and objects in our collection feature repurposed materials. From cabinet chairs to cowrie shells, find out about these objects and what they’re made of.

Perry Nichols, [The Desk Top of Jake Hamon], 1966, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Carlos Nichols, 2017.37, © Perry Nichols

Sue Canterbury, The Pauline Gill Sullivan Curator of American Art 
“Dallas native Perry Nichols portrayed Jake Hamon by depicting objects and mementos that represented some of the sitter’s traits, hobbies, and interests. When the Hamons owned the painting, it hung over their mantle while the real-life items rested below.”

Helmet mask (komo), Mali and Côte d’Ivoire, Senufo sculptor, mid-20th century, wood, glass, animal horns, fiber, mirrors, iron, and other materials, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of David T. Owsley, 1997.24

Dr. Roslyn A. Walker, Senior Curator of the Arts of Africa, the Americas, and the Pacific, and The Margaret McDermott Curator of African Art 
“Sharp horns, tusks, and zigzag teeth of wild animals; mirrors; cowrie shells; wine glasses; and sacred texts contribute to the fierce appearance and spiritual power of this helmet mask, as well as project the prominence of the Komo society member.”

Danh Vo, Lot 20. Two Kennedy Administration Cabinet Room Chairs, 2013, mahogany and metal, Dallas Museum of Art, TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art Fund, 2014.12, © Danh Vo

Dr. Vivian Li, Lupe Murchison Curator of Contemporary Art 
“In Lot 20, Danh Vo disassembles and disperses two cabinet chairs once owned by Kennedy and his Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, the primary architect of the Vietnam War, thus evoking the far-reaching losses made from the decisions of the chairs’ former occupants.”

Ceremonial basket, California, Shasta basketweaver, 19th–20th century, Squaw grass and black mountain sedge, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mrs. Eugene M. Solow, 1954.130.1

Dr. Michelle Rich, The Ellen and Harry S. Parker III Assistant Curator of Arts of the Americas
“Foraging for grasses in nature is a form of producing art with found materials. The Shasta artist who wove this beautiful basket took the time to harvest the bear grass (Xerophyllum tenax) and black alpine sedge (Carex nigricans) from the wilds of Northern California.”

Salvador Dalí, Female Nude, 1928, oil, cork, cord, and collage on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of William B. Jordan and Robert Dean Brownlee, 2019.72.78, © Salvador Dalí, Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Dr. Nicole R. Myers, The Barbara Thomas Lemmon Senior Curator of European Art
“An extraordinary early work, Female Nude is a rare example of Dalí’s brief experimentation with found objects. Here, he affixed an anthropomorphic piece of cork to the canvas in order to evoke the form of a female nude, a playful effect completed by the painted shadow.”


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