Archive for the 'Archive' Category

“The Master of the Moment” Takes Texas: Dior and Dallas

During the first ten years of the House of Dior’s existence, Dallas played a pivotal role in the label’s expansion across the Atlantic. Dallas was the first city that Christian Dior visited in the US, when he traveled in 1947 to receive the Neiman Marcus Award for Distinguished Service in the Field of Fashion (called the “Oscars of the fashion industry”).[1] Not only was Dior impressed by the city and by Neiman Marcus itself, which became from that point forward a major retailer of Dior, but he also became close friends with Stanley Marcus, the store’s then-owner. Their relationship is recorded in photographs taken by Marcus as well as in telegrams and letters now kept in the Stanley Marcus Papers at SMU. Collectively, they demonstrate the importance of Dallas to this iconic label and its founder.

Christian Dior accepting the Neiman Marcus Award from Stanley Marcus, 1947, gelatin silver print, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University

Dior’s 1947 visit to Dallas, when he was recognized with the Neiman Marcus Award as “master of the moment in the ranks of French couture,” introduced him to the world of American fashion.[2] Honored alongside Italian shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo, British fashion designer Norman Hartnell, Hollywood costume designer Irene, and actress Dolores del Rio, Dior presented his revolutionary “New Look” to the American South with three outfits specially commissioned for the exposition.[3] The trip inspired him to think of adapting his work to the less formal dressing style of American consumers.[4] A year after his Dallas trip, Dior created his Christian Dior-New York label of ready-to-wear outfits for the American lifestyle. Sold primarily through the house’s boutique in New York, the label was also sold in select stores throughout the US, including at Neiman Marcus.[5] Dior likely exhibited works from this new label when he returned a second time to Dallas in 1950 to show outfits and examples from his new line of men’s ties.[6] Dallas was the site of a major exhibition of Dior’s fashion again in 1954 when it was the only US stop in a Pan-American tour of the recent Paris line.[7]

Christian Dior handing a flower to Billie Marcus, La Colle Noire, photo by Stanley Marcus, 1954, gelatin silver print, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University

During this time, Stanley Marcus and Dior continued to develop their friendship. Numerous photos in the collection show that Marcus visited Dior in France at both his Paris apartment and his country home in Grasse. Letters and telegrams back and forth show the two discussing business as well as personal events in their lives. The relationship between Dior and Stanley Marcus resulted in a large representation of Dior’s products at Neiman Marcus’s 1957 French Fortnight, a two-week-long event that honored the store’s fiftieth anniversary. The accompanying booklet highlighted the range of goods from France’s most well known brands available for purchase, as well as local events celebrating French culture. Dior was represented in a stall that reproduced the original boutique on the Avenue Montaigne, and the company launched its perfume Diorissimo there.[8] Dior was unfortunately unable to attend, and, in fact, he would die before the Fortnight ended. Nevertheless, Dior’s close relationship with Dallas was highlighted by the fact that a poster advertising the Fortnight hung for a time in Dior’s Paris boutique.[9] The next year, Yves Saint Laurent’s first US visit was also to Dallas to receive the Neiman Marcus Award, citing the trip his predecessor took 11 years before.[10] Dallas was a clear focal point of activity for Christian Dior and a city of enormous symbolic importance, and it is therefore appropriate that the man and his label are currently being celebrated at the DMA.

Stanley Marcus and Yves Saint Laurent, photo by Georgette de Bruchard, 1958, gelatin silver print, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University

My thanks to Hillary Bober, archivist at the DMA, Natalie “Schatzie” Lee, research volunteer, and the librarians at SMU for their assistance in this research.

Get a closer look at more archival materials that illustrate Dior’s history with Dallas in Dior: From Paris to the World, on view through September 1. Timed tickets are required for all visitors of the exhibition, which can be purchased in advance here.

Nicholas de Godoy Lopes is the McDermott Intern for Decorative Arts and Design at the DMA.


[1] Marihelen McDuff, Neiman-Marcus Award press release (Dallas: Neiman-Marcus, 1947), 1.
[2] Tenth Annual Fashion Exposition Show invitation (Dallas, Texas: Neiman-Marcus, 1947), 2.
[3] McDuff, Neiman-Marcus Award press release, 3.
[4] Alexandra Palmer, “Global Expansions and Licenses,” in Dior: A New Look, A New Enterprise, 1947-1957 (London: V&A Publishing, 2009), 78.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Katherine Dillard, “Christian Dior Says Fashion Will Stress Feminine Curves,” The Dallas Morning News, October 17, 1950.
[7] Palmer, “Global Expansions and Licenses,” 107; “Dior’s Paris Collection to Make Only U.S. Appearance in Dallas,” The Dallas Morning News, November 7, 1954.
[8] Anne Wright to Stanley Marcus, May 1, 1957; Neiman-Marcus, Neiman-Marcus Brings France to Texas: Everything from A to Z (Dallas: Neiman-Marcus, 1957), unpaginated.
[9] Stanley Marcus to Christian Dior, October 2, 1957.
[10] “For N-M Award: Shy Young Designing Genius Plans First Trip to America,” The Dallas Morning News, August 2, 1958.

 

The Texas Kid and “True Stories”

One hour into David Byrne’s 1986 movie True Stories, John Goodman’s character, Louis Fyne, parks his car in front of the eccentric house of a voodoo practitioner. A sign reading “Invisible Hospital of Saint John the Baptist” is barely visible in the nighttime. That sign was hiding another sign that read “The Texas Kid.” The actual owner of the house with a fantastically decorated yard was Willard “The Texas Kid” Watson.

Filming the “Dinero” music video at The Texas Kid’s house in 1984. Top row, left to right: Charlene Dawkins, Lee Gonzalez, George Reiff, Dick Ross, Willard Watson, Kris Cummings, David Byrne, Joe “King” Carrasco. Seated on bottom row, left to right: Adelle Lutz, Georganne Deen. © Christina Patoski

Willard Watson, a.k.a. The Texas Kid, was a folk artist born in Caddo Parish, Louisiana, and raised in Dallas, Texas. He was a local celebrity, recognized for his customized cars, flashy outfits that he sewed himself, and the sculpture garden outside his home near Love Field Airport. Fourteen of his drawings are in the DMA’s collection. The first drawings were acquired just three months after the movie was filmed.

As Watson recalled in his autobiography, “That year, 1985, David Byrne, who had a famous band called Talking Heads, came by the house and asked if he could film part of his movie TRUE STORIES at my house.”

Christina Patoski, a journalist and photographer from Fort Worth, served as a special consultant for the movie. David Byrne called her in 1984, after a mutual friend recommended Patoski to be a point of contact in Texas, and said he was working on a film. In the summer of 1984, Byrne, Patoski, and some friends drove around for three days scouting locations in Dallas and surrounding counties that Byrne imagined as settings for the fictional town of Virgil, Texas. Patoski took photographs during the initial trip and throughout the filming of the movie.

Patoski suggested that Byrne come back in the fall during the State Fair. He returned in October and brought Jonathan Demme, the director of Stop Making Sense. At that time, Patoski was directing a music video for Joe “King” Carrasco staged in the The Kid’s yard. They visited her there and met Watson and saw his incredible yard and home. Byrne decided to use it as a location in True Stories. Demme purchased some of Watson’s drawings and later cast him in his feature film Something Wild.

Byrne and crew came back in August of 1985 and started filming in early September. Patoski says it was an intense six-week shoot. Watson recalled:

“Elnora and I said yes, but we had to give up the use of our home for almost two weeks. They would work all day and often until two or three in the morning. The crew was all over the place. . . . At night, the cast and crew liked to party at nightclubs, particularly Shannon’s club, Tango. . . . I even went to their wrap party at Sons of Herman[n Hall.]”

Watson in the “voodoo room,” built in the dining room of his house in 1985. © Andy Reisberg

While Watson himself doesn’t appear in the movie, his wife, Elnora, and one of their grandsons had roles as the wife and son of the shaman, played by Pops Staples. Patoski says they built the “voodoo room” for the movie, but the rest of the house, filled inside and out with Watson’s art, hardly had to be changed.

While True Stories was filming, a solo exhibition of Watson’s art was on view at the Bath House Cultural Center at White Rock Lake. It was there that a curator from the DMA saw his Life Cycle drawings, and after showing them to the director of the DMA plans were made to acquire them. “I was really really proud for my work to be acquired by the Dallas Museum of Art,” wrote Watson.

Click images to expand.

Lillian Michel is the Marketing and Communications Coordinator at the DMA.

Paper Collecting: A Peek into the Archives

Did you know that in addition to keeping records that document the Museum’s activities from the past to the present for the future, the DMA Archives also collects personal papers from Dallas-based artists and galleries? I’ve previously highlighted a few things from these collections—here, here, and here are a few examples—but it has been awhile. As our quadrant galleries currently feature a group of exhibitions by female artists in the DMA’s collection, here are a few cool things from archival special collections of women artists and a women-run cooperative gallery.

Color Equations installation photo book, Pamela Nelson Papers

Artist Pamela Nelson has done a number of public art projects around Dallas. One of my favorites is Color Equations at NorthPark Center, which she created with author Robert A. Wilson. The Pamela Nelson Papers contain preliminary sketches, design and fabrication plans, and the catalogue for the initial installation exhibition.

Color Equations, Pamela Nelson Papers

Color Equations, Pamela Nelson Papers

While less visual, the exhibition list from the Coreen Mary Spellman Papers is incredibly useful for someone researching Spellman’s work, as it documents the exhibitions in which her work appeared and which works were accepted for the show.

 

The DMA Archives also holds records from the DW Gallery, also known as the Dallas Women’s Gallery. The gallery was founded in 1975 by Linda Samuels with several other women. It was incorporated in 1978, and later managed by Diana Block from 1981 until it closed in 1988. In addition to administrative, legal, and artist records, the collection also contains textiles—T-shirts promoting the gallery.

DW Gallery T-shirts

Information about these and other special collections in the DMA Archives can be found at DMA.org/research/archives or in the library catalog.

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

Second Blooming

Alexander Calder’s Flower is back in the galleries after undergoing recent treatment in the Objects Conservation Lab. This mobile, a highlight of the collection, was given to the Museum in 1949, after it was commissioned for the Dallas Garden Club Flower Show by Mrs. Alex Camp and the Dallas Garden Club. The acquisition marked the beginning of the Museum’s contemporary art collection.

Fig03

An early photo of Flower from the DMA Archives.

In recent decades, Flower has not flowed or moved as Calder originally intended because of damage that occurred in 1979. While installed at the Museum’s former home in Fair Park, the mobile fell two stories and crashed to the ground after its hanging attachment failed. This caused loss of paint and some minor structural changes to the mobile’s elements. Because the piece is very carefully balanced in its construction, and weighs only four pounds overall, these slight deformations created noticeable alterations in how the mobile moved. Paint losses were addressed at the time, but all attempts to return the mobile to its original form were ultimately unsuccessful.

In preparation for Flower’s current display, DMA Associate Objects Conservator Fran Baas and I performed a conservation treatment this past fall. Our work enabled the mobile to move again in a way that more closely represents Calder’s original design. It also provided a unique opportunity to learn more about Flower’s history.

 

As we worked with DMA Archivist Hillary Bober to examine Calder’s original 1949 drawings and archival photographs of an early 1950s installation, subtle differences became clear. Most notably, one central metal hook was bent in an entirely different position than it had been. The changed areas were carefully manipulated back to their original positions to the extent that was safely possible. Although these repairs were very small, they created big changes in how the mobile moves overall.

Fig04

Flower on display after recent conservation treatment.

After many years, Flower finally hangs in a way that is much closer to what Calder intended. This beautiful floating sculpture is now on view in the Museum’s Concourse overlook on Level 3.

Elena Torok is the Assistant Objects Conservator at the DMA.

 

A Caribbean-Style Blast from the Past

Whenever I peruse the DMA’s photography collections in the archives, I find something unique in history that catches my eye. Sprinkle a bit of research on top, and voilà . . . I’ve uncovered something for Uncrated!

This time my interest was sparked when I saw this photo of a palm tree in the galleries. And my curiosity grew when I spied a Carmen Miranda-esque basket of fruit and oversize seashells next to it.

Gulf Caribbean International Art Exhibition, June 3–July 13, 1956
Southern Methodist University, Hamon Arts Library, Bywaters Special Collections Gift of Dr. Richard Bywaters and Mrs. Jerry Bywaters Cochran

The palm tree, and the other Caribbean-type accoutrements, added to the atmosphere of the DMFA’s installation of the Gulf Caribbean International Art Exhibition in 1956. The exhibition was organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston to celebrate the work of contemporary artists living in the areas surrounding the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea: Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico, Surinam, Trinidad, Venezuela, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. The exhibition was large, with over 160 works, including paintings, sculpture, and ceramics.

Gulf Caribbean International Art Exhibition, June 3–July 13, 1956
Southern Methodist University, Hamon Arts Library, Bywaters Special Collections Gift of Dr. Richard Bywaters and Mrs. Jerry Bywaters Cochran

It was also sponsored by Brown & Root, Inc., a heavy engineering and construction company, which allowed for ten purchase prizes for MFA Houston. Prizes were awarded to six foreign and four American artists. The three top $1,000 prizes went to Alejandro Obregon of Colombia; Cundo Bermudez of Havana, Cuba; and Seymour Fogel of Austin, Texas (“Foreigners Take Over Art Prizes,” Dallas Morning News, April 5, 1956).

Gulf Caribbean International Art Exhibition, June 3–July 13, 1956
Southern Methodist University, Hamon Arts Library, Bywaters Special Collections Gift of Dr. Richard Bywaters and Mrs. Jerry Bywaters Cochran

The DMFA installation of the exhibition, which traveled to four other venues after it closed in Dallas, was considered to be “as invigorating a treat that has come our way in many seasons. There is creative taste in its selection (and creative display)” (“Collection Has Talent to Spare,” Dallas Morning News, June 3, 1956). The author of the article continues the compliment: “the uniformly high level of quality in the paintings [is] matched for a change in the sculpture and ceramic entries with favorites hard to come by.” The exhibition would be remembered and noted as one of the most important exhibitions of 1956 in both Seventy-five Years of Art in Dallas (1978) by Jerry Bywaters and Now / Then / Again: Contemporary Art in Dallas 1949-1989 (1989) by Richard R. Brettell.

Gulf Caribbean International Art Exhibition, June 3–July 13, 1956
Southern Methodist University, Hamon Arts Library, Bywaters Special Collections Gift of Dr. Richard Bywaters and Mrs. Jerry Bywaters Cochran

I hope you have found this 1956 visit to the Gulf and Caribbean eye-catching and interesting as well.

Hillary Bober is the Archivist at the DMA. 

 

 

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. 

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.


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,581 other followers

Twitter Updates

Flickr Photo Stream

Categories