Archive for the 'Curatorial' Category

A Change of Scenery for Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “Sam F”

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Sam F, 1985, oil on door, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Samuel N. and Helga A. Feldman, 2019.31, © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York

In 2017 we began conversations with Helga Feldman about a landmark gift to the institution of a work by the incomparably important US artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. The portrait, Sam F, painted right here in Dallas, is of Feldman’s late husband, who wanted the work to be given to his city’s museum to be enjoyed by the public. As was the wish of the Feldmans, the work entered the collection at the time of Mrs. Feldman’s death in spring 2021. Basquiat’s significance to the recent history of art is almost unparalleled, and when we received the painting, we got to work making immediate plans to get it on view. With this in mind, we adapted to certain considerations of time and space in order to share the work with our audiences without delay. Therefore, we decided to show it in our Concourse, which is the most public of the Museum spaces, and is traversed by all visitors to the DMA. We have often shown works in that space that we want to honor—the Basquiat hangs where the honored artist of our major annual fundraiser, TWO X TWO for AIDS and Art, is typically found. However, because of the very public nature of this space, our duties to care for the collection mandate that the work must be hung above visitor touch distance—an average viewer’s arm span—to keep the work safe. When Sam F went on view, we received the feedback that seeing the painting from this height was far from ideal. This work clearly struck a chord with viewers—for Basquiat was one of the most innovative figures in 20th-century art history. Moreover, as an artist of Puerto Rican and Haitian descent, his presence in the Museum’s collection signals the crucial contributions of Black and Latinx artists to the art historical canon, and the work contains a wealth of references to Afro-diasporic culture that are illuminated in the accompanying interpretive panel.

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Sam F on view across from Pablo Picasso’s The Guitarist on Level 2

We heard this feedback, and we agree—it’s time to move the Basquiat so that the conditions of display can better facilitate the close looking the work merits. As of today, the work will be on view on Level 2, at the threshold between the European and contemporary galleries. The work’s neighbors include paintings by Pablo Picasso and sculptures by Henry Moore, Jacques Lipchitz, and Aristide Maillol. It also abuts our collection of classical art, providing a compelling survey of how artists have treated the human form over thousands of years. Basquiat’s portrait of Sam, who used a wheelchair, rejects the idealism first introduced in the classical period and depicts subjects that are typically excluded as subjects of the fine arts. His signature formal style combines expressive mark making taken from both his past as a graffiti artist and the Neo-Expressionism movement that dominated art in New York in the 1980s, while also pointing to a groundbreaking synthesis and reconfiguration of the art historical language that now surrounds it. We invite you to come and see the work, and to let us know what you think.

Dr. Anna Katherine Brodbeck is the Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the DMA.

The Road to Van Gogh

Dr. Nicole R. Myers, Interim Chief Curator and The Barbara Thomas Lemmon Senior Curator of European Art, spent almost a decade working tirelessly on bringing Van Gogh and the Olive Groves to life. Read about her perspective on making the magic of the exhibition happen in this Q&A excerpt from our DMA member magazine, Artifacts.

How does it feel to approach the exhibition opening after so many years in development? 

I began developing the concept for this exhibition in 2012, while I was researching the incredible olive tree painting by Van Gogh in the collection of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. Although I had worked a great deal on the artist, I was shocked to find that the painting belonged to a significant series about which I knew nothing. I set out to learn more, only to find that there had been no exhibition or book dedicated to the subject to date. Moreover, there were many unknowns about the series, such as the dates of some of the paintings, the sequence in which they were made over a six-month production period, and which paintings Van Gogh was describing in his letters—something unexpected given the incredibly saturated research field dedicated to this beloved world-famous artist. With that, I launched the exhibition and the unprecedented comparative study that involved an international team of curators, researchers, conservators, and scientists.  

The exhibition planning took many twists and turns along the way. It’s never easy to borrow important artwork by heavily sought-after artists such as Van Gogh, and some of our loan negotiations took five years to secure. Just as the checklist was nearly finalized, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic brought about new challenges and uncertainties. Rather poignantly, the exhibition catalogue, which takes as its subject the artistic production of a painter confined within an asylum—an experience Van Gogh described as a “necessary and salutary quarantine”—was written and produced in its entirety during the self-isolation and confinement imposed by the pandemic. It was with a mixture of trepidation and sadness that after all these years of working tirelessly to bring this project to fruition, I didn’t have access to a library or other resources when it finally came time to start the book. But the work forged ahead and I’m deeply grateful for what we accomplished under these exceptional circumstances.  

As I worked at my dining room table turned remote office, I thought often of Van Gogh and his experience at the asylum. Never before had his enduring belief in the healing and consolatory power of art and of nature felt more relevant, his experience more relatable, his achievement more astounding. I hope that visitors to the show will take as much joy and comfort from the olive trees as I have over the last decade, and especially this last year. 

Artist Spotlight: Emilio Amero

Modern Mexican art is dominated by artists with colossal reputations—Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo, Frida Kahlo, and many others. In my experience though, it is sometimes the artists who have garnered less attention that produced the most gripping works, charting unique artistic trajectories. One such figure, whose work I adore and have long wanted to write about, is Emilio Amero (1901–1976). Among the most versatile artists of his generation, Amero painted in fresco and on canvas, but was also a graphic designer, caricaturist, photographer, filmmaker, printmaker, gallery owner, and professor.

Born in Ixtlauaca, in the State of Mexico, Amero moved to the capital as a boy, eventually studying at the National School of Fine Arts. Although he was initially drawn to fresco painting and assisted on several important mural projects, Amero left Mexico in 1925 and settled in New York, where he worked as an illustrator for various publications, including the New Yorker and Life, and designed advertising campaigns for Saks Fifth Avenue. In New York, he explored new mediums, producing a short experimental film, 777, and trying his hand at photography. In his early photographs, he played with double exposures and other techniques for manipulating photographic negatives, but he eventually began working in a more documentary style.

Although Amero’s love for film and photography would continue when he returned to Mexico in 1930, he began working in the medium for which he appears to have had the greatest creative passion—printmaking. While teaching lithography at the National School of Fine Arts, Amero also opened a gallery, Galería Posada, where he exhibited the work of young artists, gave lectures, and held film screenings. In the mid-1930s, he returned to the United States, moving between the two countries for many years while completing various projects and teaching in New York, Mexico City, and Seattle. In 1946 Amero accepted a position at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, where he taught graphic arts until his retirement in 1967.

Emilio Amero, There is Fear, 1947, lithograph, Dallas Museum of Art, Neiman-Marcus Prize, First Southwestern Print Exhibition, 1948, 1948.12
Emilio Amero, Where?, 1948, lithograph, Dallas Museum of Art, Museum Zonne Memorial Prize, 2nd Southwestern Exhibition of Prints and Drawings, 1949, 1949.5

The DMA is fortunate to have four lithographs from Amero’s time in Norman, all of which speak to larger themes in the artist’s work. There is Fear and Where? show the artist’s propensity for contorting and compressing figures, their rigid bodies giving the impression of flesh that has turned to stone. This disquiet is enhanced by the dreamlike landscape in which the figures exist, filled with oddly shaped objects whose purpose seems unclear. In contrast, Dressing and Fiesta show more relatable scenes, their figures alive with movement, recalling some of Amero’s photographs of everyday life in rural Mexico.

Emilio Amero, Dressing, 1949, lithograph, Dallas Museum of Art, Museum Zonne Memorial Prize, 2nd Southwestern Exhibition of Prints and Drawings, 1949, 1949.4
Emilio Amero, Fiesta, 1950, color lithograph, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase, 1954.27

Three of these prints entered the collection after winning prizes at DMA exhibitions celebrating printmaking in the Southwest during the mid-20th century. Together they are a testament to Amero’s impact on the arts of this region.

Dr. Mark A. Castro is The Jorge Baldor Curator of Latin American Art at the DMA.

Expressing Hope, Dreams, and Gratitude with Ex-votos

Ex-votos are works of art that express gratitude for miraculous events or answered prayers. To go along with the works displayed in the Devoted exhibition, we asked visitors to create their own ex-votos that express something they are thankful for or that is meaningful to them. Check out this round-up of community artwork submissions! Click each artwork to expand the image.

Themes of family:

Themes of nature and animals:

Themes of health:

Themes of art:

And everything in between:

Connections Across Collections: “Slip Zone”

Opening September 14, Slip Zone: A New Look at Postwar Abstraction in the Americas and East Asia highlights the innovations in painting, sculpture, and performance that shaped artistic production in the Americas and East Asia during the mid-20th century. Find out about the transnational connections between pairs of artworks featured in the show from the exhibition’s curators.

Dr. Anna Katherine Brodbeck, Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art

While the narrative of US art history has focused on the singular achievements of Abstract Expressionism, it did not emerge on the world scene ex nihilo. Rather, US artists drew from multiple precedents, including the Mexican mural movement, which has special resonance for us at the DMA given our longstanding strengths in art from the region. In Slip Zone, Jackson Pollock’s Figure Kneeling Before Arch with Skulls is paired with Crepúsculo by David Alfaro Siqueiros. Siqueiros taught Pollock to use industrial paints at the Experimental Workshop in New York in 1936, which would later inform his use of nontraditional art media in his classic era drip paintings. The expressionistic pathos of this earlier Pollock painting also mirrors the influence of José Clemente Orozco, whose murals he had seen at Dartmouth College the same year.

Images: Jackson Pollock, Figure Kneeling Before Arch with Skulls, about 1934–38, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art Fund, 2017.7, © Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; David Alfaro Siqueiros, Crepúsculo, 1965, pyroxylin and acrylic on panel, private collection, © 2021 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SOMAAP, Mexico City

Dr. Vivian Li, The Lupe Murchison Curator of Contemporary Art

Using a hair dryer and polyvinyl acetate adhesive—commercially available since 1947 as Elmer’s Glue-All—Takesada Matsutani discovered that he could create corporeal, bulbous forms by blowing air into the material from behind until each “bubble” burst. Affixing them to the surface of his paintings, Matsutani constructed uncanny compositions. Similar to Matsutani and other members of the pioneering Gutai collective in Osaka, Robert Rauschenberg sought to blur the distinction between art and life through the use of everyday materials. For his Hoarfrost series, he transferred newspaper images to pieces of diaphanous fabric. After meeting the Gutai collective in 1964, Rauschenberg later collaborated with them, including onstage.

Images: Takesada Matsutani, Work-63-A.L. (The night), 1963, polyvinyl acetate adhesive, oil, and acrylic on canvas, The Rachofsky Collection and the Dallas Museum of Art through the TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art Fund, 2012.1.5. Courtesy the artist. © Takesada Matsutani; Robert Rauschenberg, Night Hutch (Hoarfrost), 1976, ink on unstretched fabric, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the artist, 1977.21, © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

Vivian Crockett, Former Nancy and Tim Hanley Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art

Around 1968 Lynda Benglis began pigmenting large vats of rubber latex with day-glo paint and pouring the dyed materials directly onto the floor. Created after Benglis visited a 1969 Helen Frankenthaler retrospective, this work is a nod to Frankenthaler’s method of pouring paint onto unprimed canvas. A founding member of the Gutai Art Association, Shozo Shimamoto was also deeply invested in experiments with materiality and technique. The artist often incorporated elements of performance in the creation of his paintings, such as throwing glass bottles of paint at the canvas. To produce Untitled – Whirlpool, Shimamoto poured layers of paint onto the canvas, removing the paintbrush as a mediating tool and leaving the final composition to chance and the physical, viscous qualities of the material itself.

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, © 2021 Lynda Benglis / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY; Shozo Shimamoto, Untitled – Whirlpool, 1965, oil on canvas, The Rachofsky Collection and the Dallas Museum of Art through the TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art Fund, 2012.1.3, © Shozo Shimamoto Association. Naples

Behind the Scenes: Bosco Sodi

Opening September 14, 2021, Bosco Sodi: La fuerza del destino will feature approximately 30 outdoor sculptures by the artist in the DMA’s Sculpture Garden. Created from clay sourced at Sodi’s studio in Oaxaca, dried in the sun, and fired in a traditional brick kiln, the resulting surfaces bear the beautiful scars of their process. Take a behind-the-scenes look at the artist creating his work.

Preparing the clay to sculpt:

Creating the clay spheres:

Drying the clay spheres:

Courtesy: Studio Bosco Sodi, Photographer Sergio Lopez.

Mirror Mirror

Curbed Vanity: A Contemporary Foil by Chris Schanck has given visitors the opportunity to step between the past and the present and see themselves caught in the middle. The free exhibition features two ornate dressing tables facing each other—one an extravagant example of Gilded Age silversmithing and the other a contemporary interpretation by artist Chris Schanck. The vanities are presented together in a conversation from the 19th century to today about craftsmanship, material, and how humans see and perceive themselves.

The exhibition is the perfect spot to stop, reflect, and snap a selfie—something many of you have done over the past five months that these works have been on view. As the show nears its closing date on August 29, we’re looking back on some highlighted “silver selfies” that have been shared on Instagram:

Hayley Caldwell is the Social Media and Content Manager at the DMA.

Hitting Close to Home

As the closing date for the exhibition For a Dreamer of Houses approaches, I can’t help but reflect on how timely, vibrant, and meaningful the show has been to those who have experienced it. The exhibition was originally set to open in March 2020, an opening that was never realized due to the pandemic. The timing was poignant and somewhat surreal—here we have a show about the significance of one’s home coming to fruition during a time of socially distanced shutdown, when all of us were becoming significantly more familiar with the spaces we inhabit. During that time, we launched a virtual tour of the exhibition, which allowed audiences from near and far to explore the contents of the show and think about how they relate to our present experiences, how our spaces reflect ourselves, and what our spaces and the everyday objects within them mean to us. The themes hit close to home, so to speak.

The exhibition finally opened in person along with the rest of the DMA in August 2020. We welcomed you home to your city’s museum—home to this special exhibition of contemporary art—after all of us spent months in our own homes. With fresh perspectives, you, our visitors, made magic happen as you ventured out and became part of the art. Here’s a look back at what you experienced.

The colorful energy of Alex Da Corte’s unmissable Rubber Pencil Devil:

The whimsy of the Drawers, Chests, and Wardrobes section, featuring works by Olivia Erlanger, Robert Pruitt, and Sarah Lucas:

The awe-inspiring immersion of Francisco Moreno’s Chapel:

The intimate materials of Janine Antoni’s Grope:

The delicate beauty of Do Ho Suh’s Hub, 260-10 Sungbook-dong, Sungbook-ku, Seoul, Korea:

. . . and much more.

There’s still a bit of time left for you to visit For a Dreamer of Houses before the exhibition closes on July 4, 2021. Be sure to book your visit soon and make yourself at home.

Hayley Caldwell is the Social Media and Content Manager at the DMA.

Connections Across Collections: Fatherhood

With Father’s Day just around the corner, we asked DMA staff to highlight their favorite works across our collections that connect to the art of fatherhood. See what they selected, and celebrate your own father or father figure with a visit to the DMA on June 20!

Nicole R. Myers, The Barbara Thomas Lemmon Senior Curator of European Art

One of the things I love most about this grand self-portrait by Carpentier is that it celebrates his role as a father and husband as much as it does his profession as painter. By tightly grouping the figures, the women’s arms lovingly intertwined, Carpentier places familial love and support at the center of his studio practice.

Listen to Laura Eva Hartman, Paintings Conservator at the DMA, discuss this painting here.

Paul Claude-Michel Carpentier, Self-Portrait with Family in the Artist’s Studio, 1833, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O’Hara Fund, 2014.38.FA

Stacey Lizotte, DMA League Director of Adult Programs

Julian Onderdonk was one of the greatest early Texas artists known for his paintings of bluebonnets, the state flower of Texas. Julian was originally trained by his father, Robert Jenkins Onderdonk, an artist and art teacher in San Antonio and Dallas who was known as the “Dean of Texas’s Artists” for his contributions to the arts in Texas.

Julian Onderdonk, Untitled (Field of Bluebonnets), 1918–1920, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Margaret M. Ferris, 1990.153

Mark Castro, The Jorge Baldor Curator of Latin American Art

In the Americas, Saint Joseph is depicted as youthful and strong, often carrying the child Christ in his arms, like in this New Mexican bulto currently on view in Devoted: Art and Spirituality in Mexico and New Mexico. This reinforced his role as Christ’s earthly father and the protector of the Holy Family.

José Benito Ortega, Saint Joseph, Late 19th–Early 20th century, wood, gesso, and paint, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Marcus, 1961.51.A-C

Leah Hanson, Director of Family, Youth, and School Programs

This might seem an unusual choice to celebrate fathers, but what you can’t see behind the scenes is a father who supported his daughter in becoming an artist. This love even extended to a menagerie of animals he brought to the family studio for Rosa to study and paint!

Rosa Bonheur, A Sheep at Rest, second half of the 19th century, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Dr. Alessandra Comini in honor of Charlotte Whaley, 2018.44

Martha MacLeod, Senior Curatorial Administrator and Curatorial Assistant for Decorative Arts/Design, Latin American Art, and American Art

Chase was one of America’s leading painters and teachers. He completed about a dozen portraits of his daughter Dieudonnée. Here she is in her early teens. Also, one of her father’s students, she was an accomplished still life and landscape painter.

William Merritt Chase, Dieudonnée, c. 1899, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase, 1922.2

Printmaking: A Process

Modern technology makes creating multiples easy. With a click of a button, we can print full-color images and entire articles of text in seconds. Making copies wasn’t always so quick and simple—entire books were scribed by hand, and artists and their studios would labor over multiple versions of a painting or sculpture for their clientele.

Today’s electronic printers can trace their origins to the early printmaking innovators in East Asia. In China, engraved blocks of wood were used to create copies of written text as early as the 8th century. Korean printmakers took woodblock printing a step further by creating the earliest form of metal movable type in the early 13th century, nearly two centuries before Gutenberg brought movable type to Europe.

While printmaking facilitated a wider distribution of text and knowledge, how did it impact artwork and images? Innovations in the 17th century gave artists the ability to create multicolored prints on a single sheet. Engravers would create multiple carved blocks for a design, with each block carrying a different color. Previously, an outline had been printed in one color, and artists would hand paint in the rest of the design.

Utagawa Hiroshige, Hara: Mount Fuji in the Morning, 1834, woodblock print, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Marcus, 1984.202.14

The addition of multiple blocks in the printing process meant that artists and publishers could speed up production, to the great benefit of everyday people. In Japan, Utagawa Hiroshige produced a series of 53 prints representing the stops along the Tokaido Road, which linked Edo and Tokyo. Hiroshige’s series was extremely popular; it was printed thousands of times and sold as a souvenir or keepsake for display in homes, indicating that prints were priced cheaply enough to make them accessible to travelers for purchase.

After spending time with Japanese woodblock prints, it’s easy to understand their popularity. In Hiroshige’s Tokaido Road series, as well as later works created by Hiroshi Yoshida, prints transport the viewer to new places and captured with spectacular detail and color how people interacted with their environments .

Hiroshi Yoshida, A Glimpse of Ueno Park, 1935, polychrome woodblock print, Dallas Museum of Art, the Abram C. Joseph and Ruth F. Ring Collection, gift of Miss Ruth F. Ring, 1985.44

Curious about what it takes to make a print? While woodblock printing does require some special equipment, you can get a taste of the process using everyday materials you might already have at home. Here’s what you need:

  • 1–2 flat sheets of styrofoam, cut from a take-out container or paper plate 
  • Scissors or exacto knife  
  • Flat paintbrush 
  • Watercolor or acrylic paint 
  • Cup of water 
  • Rag or small towel  
  • A large metal spoon  
  • Watercolor paper 

1. Cut a design out of the styrofoam sheet using a pair of scissors or an exacto knife. The styrofoam will act as a stamp that will carry the color to the paper.  

2. Using paint and paintbrush, apply a thin layer of color to the styrofoam. It’s helpful to thin the paint down slightly with water so the layer is even.  

3. With the rag, dampen the watercolor paper slightly. This will help the paper receive the color from the paint.  

4. Place your styrofoam sheet paint-side down onto the watercolor paper, like a stamp. Use the metal spoon to press down on the paper.  

5. Gently peel the styrofoam away from the paper to reveal your design.  

6. Wipe off the leftover paint from the styrofoam and reapply color to print another edition of your print! Each print will look different, but that’s also a part of the process that’s lost when we turn over the work to machines. When something is handmade, there will always be a degree of human error that reveals the presence of an artist behind the artwork.  

Jessica Thompson-Castillo is the Manager of Teen Programs at the DMA.


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