Archive for the 'Collections' Category

The Artful Overlapping of Old and Modern Iran

A work by Houston-based Iranian-American artist Soody Sharifi is now on view in the Keir Collection of Islamic Art Gallery. Courtly Love, an archival inkjet print from 2007, is an adaptation of a 15th-century painting in the Keir Collection. The original painting is an illustration of a tale from the Khamsa of Nizami, a collection of five tragic love poems. It depicts a scene from the romance of the Iranian king Khusraw and Armenian princess Shirin. Drunk and guilty of an amorous tryst, Khusraw has arrived at Shirin’s palace on horseback. Shirin, peering out from a window, is counseled by an older woman and refuses him entry. The scene is witnessed by a variety of attendants, including three scribes holding poetic manuscripts below. A darker mood is also present; anxious angels who know the inevitable tragic outcome of the story hover at upper left, while two gardeners with golden shovels foreshadow the twin graves in which the lovers will lie for eternity.

Khusraw at Shirin’s Palace, painting from a manuscript of Nizami’s Khamsa, last quarter of the 15th century, ink, colors and gold on paper, The Keir Collection of Islamic Art on loan to the DMA, K.1.2014.738

Courtly Love is one of a series of works that Sharifi has termed “Maxiatures,” a play on the term “miniatures” that is commonly used to describe the small format of Islamic book paintings. Sharifi’s works are large. For them, she has selected well-known examples of architectural paintings that illustrate Persian literary classics, such as the Khamsa, to serve as a basis for adaptation through the addition of new figures taken from photography. She also works with the architectural elements in the original image, changing their scale and contents. In this work, some of the original painted figures have vanished, and those that remain become unwitting bystanders to a new cast of figures inserted into the scene: contemporary, young Iranians, mainly women, going about daily tasks. These include making a call at a phone booth, jumping rope, playing with a hula-hoop, painting toenails, installing a satellite dish, and looking over the balustrades and through windows. Three young men speak to the women from outside the garden walls—the circumscribed formalities of courtly love referenced in the title of the work, and perhaps referring to the themes of the original painting.

Soody Sharifi, Courtly Love, 2007, archival inkjet print, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Richard and Glen de Unger in gratitude to Walter Elcock for his attentiveness and support for the Keir Collection, 2018.40

Sharifi’s work appears to be concerned with issues of dual identities, of a past and present that is especially acute for Iranians of her generation who were exiled by the revolution of 1979. Given that the figures in her works are young, this may represent the nostalgia of young Iranians today who still live in proximity to the elegant palaces and gardens depicted in historical paintings, perhaps inhabited now only by ghosts, like the figures in 15th-century paintings. Her concern with dualities—of language, of national identity, of traditions and contemporary technologies, of political tensions—seems to be present in this work, where contemporaneity hovers over a past that can no longer be reached. Certainly, there is also a sense of humor—it is clever and funny to see modern people in these poetical constructs.

Soody Sharifi’s work is displayed in the Keir Collection Gallery alongside the painting that inspired it so that the public can appreciate her interventions, decode her intentions, and enjoy the presence of both works of art at once. Join Sharifi in person as she shares insights into Courtly Love at our next Late Night on February 15.

Heather Ecker is The Marguerite S. Hoffman and Thomas W. Lentz Curator of Islamic and Medieval Art at the DMA.

 

DMA Online Collection: An Inside Look (Part II)

Last week two of our Digital Collections Content Coordinators (D3Cs) reflected on the highlights and insights they’ve gathered throughout their time diligently compiling information for over 5,000 objects in our online collection. Today, the other half of this team recounts the dots they’ve connected and some of their favorite hidden gems they’ve uncovered on the job.

Chloë Courtney, Contemporary Art, Latin American Art, and Arts of Africa, 2018-present
chloe

Connecting the Dots:
My favorite aspect of the online collection is the way it highlights dynamic connections between objects from different areas of the Museum’s holdings. For example, Renée Stout’s sculpture Fetish #1 draws upon her study of African sculpture. Links to contextual essays and related objects in both the contemporary and African collections explain how the protective powers of minkisi influenced Stout’s choice of materials.

1989.128Renee Stout, Fetish #1, 1987, monkey hair, nails, beads, cowrie shells, and coins, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Roslyn and Brooks Fitch, Gary Houston, Pamela Ice, Sharon and Lazette Jackson, Maureen McKenna, Aaronetta and Joseph Pierce, Matilda and Hugh Robinson, and Rosalyn Story in honor of Virginia Wardlaw, 1989.128, © Renee Stout, Washington, D.C.

The Spanish Colonial screen also relies on contextual information from multiple curatorial departments. This highly ornamented screen allows us to see how Japanese byobu, or painted screens, inspired Spanish Colonial adaptations and thus visually represent the centuries of trade between Asia, the Spanish Philippines, Mexico, South America, and Europe.

1993.74.A-BScreen, Mexico, Mexico City, c. 1740–60, oil on canvas, pine, and gilding, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Stanley and Linda Marcus Foundation, 1993.74.a-b

Hidden Gems:
While the number of objects displayed in the galleries is limited by factors including available space, the online collection enables visitors to experience art rarely on view in the building. One of my favorite contextual essays focuses on time-based media. Not only does the essay provide a survey of this field and the DMA’s impressive holdings, but it also draws attention to works that typically reside in storage.

Jennie Russell, American Art, European Art, and Teaching Ideas, 2016-2018

jennie
Hidden Gems:
Due to conservation restrictions, works on paper are generally permitted to be on view for only four to six months and then require long resting periods in storage. These works, though they get little exposure in the galleries, can be studied in the online collection through contextual essays and high-resolution photography.

Connecting the Dots:
My favorite part of the job is exploring the connections between visual art and the arts as a whole (music, theater, literature, etc.). Working on the mid-20th-century print Wreck of the Old 97 by John McCrady let me explore pop culture connections to art. Several artists, including Johnny Cash, had previously recorded the story of the wreck as a ballad. I came across interesting bits of trivia including the origin story of a local band’s name.

wreck of the old 97John McCrady, Wreck of the Old 97, date unknown, lithograph, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase, 1948.6

A fan of both literature and Surrealism, I knew I would enjoy working on Salvador Dalí’s 1969 Alice in Wonderland illustrations (examples include A Mad Tea Party, The Queen’s Croquet Ground, and A Caucus Race and a Long Tale). Dalí’s lithographs capture the spirit of Lewis Carroll’s tale with the painter’s usual wit and whimsy. Taking advantage of web resources let me provide visitors with links to other depictions of Carroll’s story as well as clips from cinematic adaptations.

Find your own favorites by browsing through our online collection, the content of which wouldn’t be possible without the research and hard work of our D3C team!

DMA Online Collection: An Inside Look (Part I)

As the Dallas Museum of Art’s Digital Collections project comes to a close at the end of December, we’re taking a look back at the important work the Digital Collections Content Coordinators (D3Cs) have undertaken over the past three years, including writing, researching, gathering, compiling, and condensing information for over 5,000 individual objects. Their end result is an online collection that takes advantage of its digital format. Unlike the physical limitations of the DMA galleries, the online collection promotes three unique learning opportunities:

  1. Connecting the dots—linking objects and narratives across collections or disciplines.
  2. Deep dives—providing detailed information about one or more objects in texts that far exceed typical wall labels.
  3. Hidden gems—highlighting works that are rarely on view or risk being overlooked in the galleries.

We’ve asked each D3C to recount some of the insights she accumulated on the job.

Jennifer Bartsch-Allen, Decorative Arts and Design, 2016-2018

jennifer allen
Hidden gem:
Although I’ve researched a variety of works across the Decorative Arts and Design Collection, the bulk of my last two years was focused on the Wendy and Emery Reves Collection. This enabled me to draw attention to furniture, including a Baroque cabinet by Pierre Gole. In the gallery, the cabinet remains closed and distant. Online, however, the high-res photos show the drawers in multiple positions and give close-ups of signatures and surfaces. Supplemental essays include biographies of the collectors and definitions of some of the specialized terms.

baroque cabinetCabinet on stand, Pierre Gole, Paris (?), France, 1660–80, wood, ivory, tortoiseshell, shell, and gilt bronze, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, 1985.R.573.a-c

Deep dives:
One of my favorite eras is 20th-century design, so I thoroughly enjoyed exploring works featured in the Museum’s South Gallery. At first glance, Peter Muller-Munk’s relatively modest Normandie shape pitcher appears straightforward and functional. However, it becomes much more impressive and influential after reading about its context in American streamlined design.

pitcherNormandie shape pitcher, Peter Muller-Munk, Rome, New York, 1935, chrome-plated brass, Dallas Museum of Art, 20th Century Design Fund, 1996.27

Similarly, the historical references in René Jules Lalique’s glass vases become easier to identify once you recognize the popularity of neoclassical imagery at the time. Several, including the Denaides vase, rely on these mythological motifs while simultaneously embodying the early 20th century’s Art Deco movement.

vaseDanaides vase, René Jules Lalique, Lalique et Cie, Cristallerie, Wingen-sur-Moder, France, c. 1926, molded glass, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Steinberg, 2004.48.5

Heather Bowling, Classical Art, Contemporary Art, and Decorative Arts and Design, 2016-2018

heather

Deep dives:
Throughout the course of this project, I have enjoyed learning more about contemporary art and decorative arts and design, but it was fun to return to my classical roots and do some original research on a 2nd century CE portrait bust. The DMA’s Roman portrait head of a young woman joins an array of Roman portraits that reflect ideas about gender roles in the ancient world. Spoiler alert: portraits of modest, fertile, upper-class women were created largely to boost the public stature of the men in their lives. Additionally, elaborate hairstyles of wealthy Roman women imitated favored empresses and indicated the wearer’s high status, not unlike today’s celebrities.

roman headPortrait head of a young woman, Roman, 2nd century CE, marble,
Dallas Museum of Art, gift of David T. Owsley via the Alvin and Lucy Owsley Foundation, 2016.36

Accessioned just three years after its creation, Cathedral is the cornerstone of contemporary art at the DMA and one of the first Pollock drip paintings to enter any museum collection in the world. Because this work is so prolific, I had to wade through a substantial amount of scholarship to create a concise description that answers the question you may be asking yourself: why is throwing paint on a canvas a big deal?

paint canvasJackson Pollock, Cathedral, 1947, enamel and aluminum paint on canvas,
Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Bernard J. Reis, 1950.87, © Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Hidden gems:
In the galleries it would be easy to pass by this minuscule scarab beetle, but online you can zoom in and inspect each side. Although initially there was no information available about the inscription on its underside, extensive research of Egyptian amulets revealed exactly how it afforded the deceased special protection in the journey to the afterlife.

scarabScarab, Egyptian, 1785–1550 BCE, faience, Dallas Museum of Art, given in memory of Jerry L. Abramson by his estate, 2009.25.4

Connecting the dots:
Alongside my work in the Contemporary and Classical Art departments, researching modern design and postmodern design illuminated the intersection of ancient and contemporary objects, and gave me a new appreciation for how an encyclopedic museum collection can demonstrate the connections between different places and times.

Stay tuned for Part II, coming next week. Meet the other half of our D3C team and discover more insights into our collection!

Material Girls (and a Guy)

To make browsing through our online collection easier, there are filters to see smaller samples so you aren’t wading through thousands of artworks. For instance, you can search through culture of origin or look at the period in which an artwork was made—maybe you enjoy 18th-century French, or you want to go back to B.C.E. But one place where you might not normally look is our section labeled “Medium,” which lets you know how each artwork was made and what it is made from. While there are plenty of works made with oil paint, bronze, and marble, there are also those made of neon, bone, and soda cans.

What better time to showcase the interesting materials in our collection than the same week we celebrate the original “Material Girl” herself, Madonna. Second Thursdays with a Twist on September 13 is all about Madonna’s style, music, and the decade she helped shape: the 1980s. Until then, you can learn more about the materials in our collection that, like Madonna herself, are anything but ordinary!

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Prostitutes, c. 1893–95, pastel on emery board, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, 1985.R.75

There are unique materials scattered among all the cultures that make up our collection. As you look at the different materials, some might stick out as interesting or odd, but for the artist making that piece it would not have been such a strange choice. This is the case in the pastel work by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec in which he used emery board, or emery cloth, as the base. This has similar qualities to sandpaper—slightly rough and coarse compared to traditional canvas. Using a delicate medium like pastel on something that will rip apart the creamy texture was a technique he learned from studying 18th-century pastellistes. Lautrec used the technique to create the beautiful, modeled shadows on the woman’s back with the heavier application of pastel. Although today we might think of emery board as an interesting material, at the time the work was created it would have been somewhat traditional for the pastel medium.

Meg Webster, Untitled (Turmeric), date unknown, jade adhesive on arches paper, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Caroline and Michael Van Valkenburgh, 2017.47.3, © Meg Webster

Contemporary artist Meg Webster was influenced by the Land art movement in the 1970s and studied under Michael Heizer. This influence led her to work primarily in sculpture using natural elements like plants. Webster’s untitled work in our collection is not a sculpture but one of her works on paper. These works share the same focus on the earth and connection to nature with her use of materials such as soil, ash, beeswax, and spices. Untitled uses turmeric to create a textured, dyed element on the paper. She uses natural materials in this series, but on a more intimate scale compared to her room-sized works with living plants. Using natural elements to dye or paint isn’t new, but using turmeric in its raw form shows Webster’s ability to create art without changing the natural form of the materials she uses, while also giving the piece a multisensory effect through smell and the visually distinct color.

Deborah Butterfield, Horse #6-82 – Steel, 1982, sheet aluminum, wire, and tar, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Edward S. Marcus Fund, 1982.96.FA, © 1982 Deborah Butterfield, Bozeman, Montana

Artist Deborah Butterfield has been making organic sculptures of horses almost her entire career. She has experimented with many different materials to make the animals to scale. In her early career, she used mostly wood and organic materials. The horse in our collection is made from steel, sheet aluminum, wire, and tar during the period in which Butterfield used mainly found metals to make the horse’s form. Even though the materials are rough, she contrasts them by creating smooth, precise forms, making the inorganic look organic. Butterfield is still working today, and now combines the materials from earlier in her career. She finds wood to create the shape of the horse, and then casts the pieces in bronze and reassembles it, Combining the two mediums to make one sculpture.

Katie Cooke is Manager of Adult Programs at the DMA.

Streamline Design: The Art of Technology

Today is National Radio Day, and yesterday, August 19, was National Aviation Day. The two days celebrate the development and technological advancements in aviation and the invention of the radio. While it is most likely coincidental that both holidays fall back-to-back, in terms of 1930s industrial design, this pairing is meant to be.

The years between World War I and World War II were the Golden Age of Flight and the Golden Age of Radio in America. During these decades, affordable, safe, and comfortable long distance plane trips became a foreseeable travel option for the greater American public. Similarly, the affordability of the radio brought families across the United States together for regular nightly programming and entertainment—essentially bringing the world into their living room. With both the skies and airways now within reach, the fascination with rapidly developing technology, speed, and motion became hallmarks of the era.

Artistically speaking, this era is one of my favorite periods in terms of the decorative arts. The emergence of flight had a profound impact on the design of many household and consumer goods during the interwar years, and radio encasements often reflected the Machine Age aesthetic of the 1930s. Prominent industrial designers of the day embraced America’s love affair with flight and successfully blurred the lines between art and technology with of-the-moment consumer products. Good design sells; therefore, it is no surprise that for the radio—one of the most prominent fixtures in the 1930s American household—overall design aesthetic often dominated the purchasing decision of a design-savvy consumer.

If you’re looking for a creative way to pay homage to these two holidays, take note of these aerodynamic gems on view at the Dallas Museum of Art that incorporate characteristic elements of streamline design, including horizontal banding, smooth exteriors, and the use of modern materials like chrome and plate glass. Each object suggests the concepts of speed and movement while stylishly capturing a moment in decorative art and design history when the worlds of aviation and radio effortlessly collide.

Take a look at the 1933 “Air-King” radio (model 66) designed by Harold Van Doren and John Gordon Rideout. The form of this radio is a play on the motif of a skyscraper, with its stepped shape toward the top; however, the circular glass plate on the façade with showing AM and FM broadcast band numbers, combined with the tuning and volume knobs, remind me of a cockpit’s control panel.

Don’t miss this “Bluebird” radio (model 566) designed by Walter Dorwin Teague and manufactured by the Sparton Corporation in 1934. The name alone embraces the notion of flight and is enhanced even further through streamlined design elements. Here, the straightforward use of circles and horizontal banding set against the plate-glass backdrop seems to mimic a single engine propeller plane’s nose and wingspan. I imagine a plane flying gracefully through the clear blue open sky, transporting the avid listener to new destinations through the magic of radio.

To learn more about how the Machine Age influenced art and design in America, visit the Dallas Museum of Art’s upcoming exhibition Cult of the Machine: Precisionism and American Art, which will open to the public on September 16.

Jennifer Bartsch-Allen is a Digital Collections Content Coordinator at the DMA.

Accio, Art!

Don’t be alarmed if you’re downtown this weekend and see wands, pet owls, witches, and wizards. They are all here for the annual international LeakyCon. If you can’t tell from the name alone, LeakyCon is a weekend-long convention all about our favorite boy wizard, Harry Potter. Tickets for this immersive conference sold out the day they went on sale, so if you’re like us and didn’t snag a spot, don’t try and alohomora your way in! Just head over to the DMA and use our Marauder’s Map self-guide to find works in our collection that connect with Harry Potter characters. If you’re stuck in a cupboard under the stairs and can’t make it to the Museum, here are our DMA horcruxes that match all seven of the objects He Who Must Not Be Named placed his soul into. What better place to hide a horcrux than in a museum?

The Diary of Tom Riddle
On view in the Paintings Conservation Gallery, Level 2

Riddle Diary 1

Josef Hoffmann, Concordia Ball program cover, 1909, gilt, copper, leather, and paper, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Dr. and Mrs. Edward Mattil, 1989.111

Marvolo Gaunt’s Ring

Ring, Velma Davis Dozier, 1959, gold and tourmaline, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Otis and Velma Dozier, 1979.16

Salazar Slytherin’s Locket
On view in the 18th-Century European Art Gallery, Level 2

Elisabeth Louise Vigée-Lebrun, Portrait of Natalia Zakharovna Kolycheva, née Hitrovo, 1799, oil on canvas, lent by the Michael L. Rosenberg Foundation, 29.2004.13

Helga Hufflepuff’s Cup

Two-handled cup, Louis-Constant Sévin, 1866, bronze and silverplate, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the 1991 Dallas Symposium in honor of Caroline Rose Hunt, 1992.321

Rowena Ravenclaw’s Diadem
On view in the Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Classical Galleries, Level 2

Diadem, Greek, 2nd century BCE, gold, glass, and repoussé, Dallas Museum of Art, Museum League Purchase Funds, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., and Cecil H. and Ida M. Green in honor of Virginia Lucas Nick, 1991.75.75

Harry Potter embodied by his favorite place, Hogwarts
On view in the 18th-Century European Art Gallery, Level 2

Johan Christian Dahl, Frederiksborg Castle, 1817, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O’Hara Fund, 2014.22.FA

Nagini

Mantle clock with figure of Perseus, Pierre-Victore Ledure, early 19th century, lent by David T. Owsley, 156.1994.51

If you want to check out our Marauder’s Map self-guide of the collection, grab one at the main Visitor Services Desk on Level 1 beginning Friday, August 10. Make sure to come out that weekend, they will be gone after Sunday, August 12.

If you want another wizarding world activity to celebrate the weekend, click here to complete our Sorting Hat quiz based on objects in our collection.

Katie Cooke is Manager of Adult Programs at the DMA.

As You Wish

The Princess Bride is one of my favorite movies. It has everything a classic fairy tale should—sword fights, castles, intrigue, large rodents, pirates, even (*gasp*) kissing!

Therefore, my excitement knows no bounds as our Second Thursday with a Twist this week is themed As You Wish—a fun night exploring themes between our collection and The Princess Bride.

You’ll be able to watch a fencing demonstration, take a scavenger hunt through the Museum, and listen to actors dramatically read passages from the book.

To prepare you for an inconceivable night, I wanted to share some works of art from our collection that remind me of characters or scenes from the movie:

The Dread Pirate Roberts is swoon-worthy and mysterious—as is Le Captaine.

Debbie Fleming Caffery, Le Captaine, Louisiana, 1995, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of DMA Friends of Photography, 1998.127

The Dread Pirate Roberts first appears at the Cliffs of Insanity, and I always imagine that this painting could have inspired them.

Thomas Cole, The Fountain of Vaucluse, 1841, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of J. E. R. Chilton, 1992.14

Atop the Cliffs of Insanity, the most epic fencing scene takes place, and every time I walk by this painting I think of Inigo Montoya and automatically say “You killed my father, prepare to die!”

Michael Sweerts, Portrait of a Gentleman, possibly a Member of the Deutz Family, 1648–49, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Karl and Esther Hoblitzelle Collection, gift of the Hoblitzelle Foundation, 1987.25

For those who love Fezzik, Untitled (big/small figure) features our resident giant.

Tom Friedman, Untitled (big/small figure), 2004, styrofoam and paint, promised gift of the Dallas Museum of Art Board of Trustees to the Dallas Museum of Art in honor of John Eagle; Dallas Museum of Art through the TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art Fund, © Tom Friedman, 2004.33.a-c

One of Fezzik’s memorable lines is “Anybody want a peanut?” So try not to start a rhyming game when you see this gold weight in the Power of Gold exhibition.

Goldweight, Asante peoples, possibly, mid-20th century, brass and copper alloys, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts, The Alfred and Juanita Bromberg Collection, bequest of Juanita K. Bromberg, 2000.229.86.FA

The battle of wits between Westley and Vizzini brings us another classic scene: “Are you the sort of man who would put the poison into his own goblet or his enemy’s?”

Goblet (one of a pair), George B. Sharp for Bailey & Co., c. 1864, silver, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Jo Kurth Jagoda in memory of Constance Owsley Garrett, 1989.20.2

There are three things to fear in the Fire Swamp, and whenever I see this painting I think if I went just beyond the trees I might step on a fire spurt, fall into some quicksand, or encounter an R.O.U.S.

Narcisse–Virgile Diaz de la Peña, Forest of Fontainebleau, 1868, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Munger Fund, 1991.14.M

Speaking of R.O.U.S.es—while this rat is not an unusual size, it clearly has no problem attacking a human and eating his nose!

Large jar: figure with rat eating the nose, Moche culture, 400–600 CE, ceramic, slip, and paint, Dallas Museum of Art, The Nora and John Wise Collection, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jake L. Hamon, the Eugene McDermott Family, Mr. and Mrs. Algur H. Meadows and the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated, and Mr. and Mrs. John D. Murchison, 1976.W.116

Killer rodents aside, if you are a fan of TRU WUV be sure to join us on Thursday night!

Stacey Lizotte is the DMA League Director of Adult Programs at the DMA.


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