Archive for the 'Contemporary Art' Category

Shared Trajectories

In spring of 1978, while the artist León Ferrari was in Stockholm, Sweden, his son was disappeared by the military police back in his home country of Argentina. Long suspicious of governmental and religious powers, Ferrari was openly critical of the Argentine dictatorship, and had been living in São Paulo, Brazil, in exile since 1976. His son had stayed behind and was actively engaged in the leftist resistance, ultimately suffering the same fate as 30,000 of his compatriots who were kidnapped and murdered during the country’s decade-long “Dirty War.” Two untitled works on paper recently acquired by the Dallas Museum of Art serve as witness to these important junctures in the artist’s life, and are signed and dated from São Paulo and Stockholm, respectively. Functioning as abstracted letters, they form part of a long-running series Ferrari inaugurated in 1963 with Carta a un general (Letter to a General), in which the artist’s script becomes illegible and morphs into almost Surrealist imagery, calling to mind that movement’s interest in automatic writing and its possibilities.

Runo Lagomarsino, the subject of the DMA’s upcoming Concentrations exhibition EntreMundos, shares a geographic lineage with Ferrari. Lagomarsino was born to Argentine parents who migrated to Sweden during the Dirty War. His grandparents were Italian, as were Ferrari’s parents (up to 62% percent of Argentines are of Italian descent), and both artists have lived and worked in São Paulo. Lagomarsino’s heritage and travels have informed his work, which comments on mass migrations from the colonial period to the present. But their work has more in common than this shared trajectory. Like Ferrari, Lagomarsino renders legible systems illegible, and stable meanings unstable.

4Crucero Del Norte

Runo Lagomarsino, Crucero del Norte , 1976–2012, 24 exposed photographic papers, 7 x 9 1/2 in. (17.8 x 24 cm) each, Collection Lena and Per Josefsson, Stockholm, Photo: Erling Lykke Jeppesen

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Runo Lagomarsino, West Is Everywhere you Look, 2016, 9 maps, motors, cables, and wires, variable dimensions, Courtesy of the artist and Francesca Minini, Milano

In the upcoming exhibition, visitors will encounter maps, like those found in primary school classrooms. Yet these maps are rolled up and closed so that their contents cannot be seen. In other works, photographic paper has been exposed to light so that any imagery is blurred beyond recognition; portmanteaus stamped on a wall create surprising associations. By putting into doubt what is typically taken as factual, Lagomarsino asks us to question our own assumptions and biases, and how these become codified into larger social and political systems. This questioning of the powers-that-be is exactly what drove Ferrari during his long career. These sympathetic artists demonstrate art’s ability to thrive in the space of ambiguity, empowering viewers to create their own interpretations.

Concentrations 61: Runo Lagomarsino, EntreMundos opens on September 30; the exhibition is included in free general admission.

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

Farewell to #LauraOwens

We’ve reached the final weekend of our Laura Owens exhibition, and the whimsy and wonder that lit up our Hoffman Galleries will be fondly missed after its closing day on Sunday, July 29. This exhibition has been inspiring to many, and we can see why; the intricate artworks that represent the artist’s career from the mid-1990s to today include intriguing themes of fantasy, pop culture, nature, technology, and the avant-garde that tie it all together. Exploring Owens’s art was the highlight of many fun spring and summer programs and classes at the DMA, including Arturo’s Art & Me, Family Workshops, and Teen Tours. We also saw incredible new works of art created by visitors to the exhibition, including this vivid poem written by a young poet in The Writer’s Garret‘s summer program “Rail Writers.”

Among the inspiring aspects of this presentation is how delightfully “Instagram-able” it is, allowing viewers to create their own stories around each playful artwork and connect with an even broader audience. Just search the hashtag #LauraOwens and you’ll find a lively array of visitors interacting with Owens’s bold works and becoming part of the art. With bright colors, thickly layered swashes of paint and other mixed media, and untitled works that leave many subjects up to the imagination, these works are all about stimulating and sharing curiosity. Here’s a look back at what a few of our visitors had to say about their experiences:

_.mickelodeon._“Laura Owens is an amazing artist; prior to my venture I hadn’t heard of her. But now, I am a fan.” –@_.mickelodeon._

“Went to see some art without realizing we are the art.” –@ary_balderrama

in_dfwfamily2“Her work is LOUD, quirky, silly, dimensional, full of layers!” –@in_dfwfamily

edithvm“Exhibición de Laura Owens está llena de color y amor” –@edithvm

IMG_E1065“This painting really cat-ures my spirit.” –@kmeansbusinezz

There is still time left for you to share your perspective from this exhibition, whether it’s on social media or through artistic creations of your own. Either way, there is plenty to take away from Owens’s art, and we hope you take the opportunity this weekend to discover what that inspiration looks like for you.

Hayley Caldwell is the Communications and Marketing Coordinator at the DMA.

Ten Questions with Three Artists

Throughout the summer, the Quadrant Galleries on Level 1 will feature two exhibitions drawn from the Contemporary art collection: Soft Focus and Body Ego. Four of the artists included in these installations call the DFW area home, and each Saturday in July at 3:00 p.m. one of the artists will give a free talk about the work she has on view. Last week Denton-based artist Annette Lawrence joined us to speak about her fascinating Free Paper series and how she uses drawing, collecting, and data to create objects that measure the passage of time.

This week, we’ll hear from photographer Debora Hunter, followed by artists Linda Ridgway and Frances Bagley later this month. Before they arrive, we had some burning questions for these artists about their lives and their work. Here’s what they had to say:

Debora Hunter

Hunter is a Dallas-based photographer and Professor Emerita of Art at Southern Methodist University. In 2016 she was the honoree of the Dallas Art Fair. Aside from the DMA’s collection, Hunter’s work is included in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, High Museum of Art, Corcoran Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Yale University Art Museum, University of New Mexico Museum, Wesleyan University Art Museum, Rhode Island School of Design Art Museum, Creative Photography Laboratory of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Louisiana Art and Science Center, and Dallas Area Rapid Transit.

Debora Hunter, Floral Spine, 1975, photograph, Dallas Museum of Art, Polaroid Foundation grant, 1976.79, © Debora Hunter

Learn more about Hunter’s photograph Floral Spine in the online collection.

If you could take one work of art from the DMA home, what would it be?
What fun to sleep in the Gothic revival bedstead from Rosedown Plantation.

Bed, Crawford Riddell (maker), 1844, Brazilian rosewood, tulip poplar, and yellow pine, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of three anonymous donors, Friends of the Decorative Arts Fund, General Acquisitions Fund, Discretionary Decorative Arts Fund, and the Boshell Family Foundation., 2000.324

What was the first subject you loved to photograph?
The backs of people gazing out to sea.

If you could have coffee with a photographer from the past, who would it be?
Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879)—since she is English she would probably want tea.

What do you love most about teaching?
Retiring! (only joking). Actually, working with young people as they discover their interests and talents.

Any advice for young artists out there?
Listen carefully to your inner voice and then work really hard.

What is something you are looking forward to?
“Emerita,” a retrospective exhibition of forty years of my work at SMU’s Pollock Gallery opening September 7, 2018.

Film or digital?
Yes!

Last book you read?
Cake, a very fun cookbook of cake recipes with stories and illustrations by Maira Kalman.

If you hadn’t become an artist, what career would you have chosen?
Film editor or architect.

Where do you feel inspired around Dallas?
The weird Valley View Mall and the Santa Fe Trestle Trail, for different reasons.


Linda Ridgway

Ridgway is a Dallas-based printmaker and sculptor working primarily in bronze. Her work has been the subject of solo exhibitions around the country, most recently at Talley Dunn Gallery in Dallas, as well as group exhibitions at the Grace Museum and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art this year. Aside from the DMA’s collection, Ridgway’s work is in the permanent collections of the El Paso Museum of Art, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Phillips Collection, Weisman Collection, and AMOA Arthouse.

Linda Ridgway, Harvest Line, 1995, bronze, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Nona and Richard Barrett and Mr. and Mrs. Bryant M. Hanley, Jr., 1996.190

Learn more about Ridgway’s sculpture Harvest Line in the online collection.

If you could take one work of art from the DMA home, what would it be?
If I could take only one piece, it would be Beginning of the World by Constantin Brancusi.

Constantin Brancusi, Beginning of the World, 1920, marble, nickel silver, and stone, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. James H. Clark, 1977.51.FA, © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

What is your favorite bit of nature around Dallas?
My favorite bit of nature is White Rock Lake.

What is your favorite poem?
Uses of Sorrow by Mary Oliver is my favorite poem at the moment.

Any advice for young artists out there?
There is a lot of advice you can give to a young artist, but the most valuable lesson is hard work and to never give up.

What is something you are looking forward to?
Having a bigger studio space to create more work.

What was the last thing you looked up on Wikipedia?
I don’t use Wikipedia, but I do use my smartphone to look up things. Recently, I looked up images by John Singer Sargent, because of a book I am now reading.

How long have you been drawing?
I started drawing as a child, but at the age of 13 I made the decision to become an artist.

Do you listen to music while you are working?
I listen to the classical station.

If you hadn’t become an artist, what career would you have chosen?
A biologist.

What are some words that you live by?
Everything will be okay.


Frances Bagley

Bagley is a Dallas-based sculptor and installation artist. Among numerous public art projects, and both Texas and national exhibitions, her work is included in the permanent collections of American Airlines, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the El Paso Museum of Art, Pepsi-Co, UT Arlington, and Southwestern Bell. Bagley is the recipient of multiple awards, including the Moss Chumley Award in 2011, the 10th Kajima Sculpture Exhibition in Tokyo in 2008, and the Jurors Award for the Texas Biennial in 2007.

Frances Bagley, Tiny Dancer, 2008, mixed media, Dallas Museum of Art, Charron and Peter Denker Contemporary Texas Art Fund, 2009.23, © Frances Bagley

Learn more about Bagley’s sculpture Tiny Dancer in the online collection.

If you could take one work of art from the DMA home, what would it be?
Isa Genzken’s sculpture Door (Tür).

Isa Genzken, Door (Tür), 1988, concrete and steel, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of The Rachofsky Collection and purchase through the TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art Fund, 2006.46, © Isa Genzken

What was the last thing you looked up on Wikipedia?
Billy Bob Thornton’s background.

What are some words that you live by?
“Tell the Truth.”

Any advice for young artists out there?
Becoming an artist is not a career choice. You should only do it if you have to and won’t be happy with any other choice.

What is something you are looking forward to?
Going to Maine this summer for Barry Whistler’s birthday party.

Favorite place you have traveled?
Tunisia.

Last book you read?
Buddha Mind in Contemporary Art, edited by Jacquelynn Baas and Mary Jane Jacob.

If you hadn’t become an artist, what career would you have chosen?
See my answer to question #4. No other choice would have made me happy.

What is a daily ritual that you have?
Discussing the world with Tom Orr while having coffee every morning.

What material are you interested in working with next?
Oil paint.

What questions do you have for the artists? Drop by each Saturday to spend time with them in the galleries and learn about their creative process firsthand.

Jessie Carrillo is Manager of Adult Programs at the Dallas Museum of Art. 

Holding Up a Mirror to Texas Icons

If you’ve visited the DMA lately, you likely noticed the large red mural created by Minerva Cuevas in our Concourse. For those unfamiliar with Cuevas’s art, she is known for her conceptual multi-media installations, and the way her images, language, found objects, and sculpture work together to create political critiques. Some of her projects reformat the visual language of advertisements, using it to harness advertising’s power to affect cultural narratives. For example, see Cuevas’s morbid reimagining of the Del Monte logo. What makes her work so interesting and accessible is the way it explores the relationships among socioeconomic systems, indigenous identity, and the environment with a sense of dark humor. Sometimes, as we see in Fine Lands, her work is downright playful.

Fine Lands, on view at the DMA through September 2, transforms the Museum’s central Concourse into a dystopian Texas landscape, rendered in a powerful comic-book style. Familiar silhouettes of oil wells become menacing, insectlike forms, while crude oil spewing from a derrick morphs into a cloud of bats filling the sky.

Minerva_Cuerva_Installation_07_o3

Alongside cacti and desert scrub, a tortoise’s shell is reimagined as a backpack, a reference to the northward journeys of migrants. A tough, muscled armadillo and wide-eyed prairie dogs wear bulletproof vests. It’s easy to imagine these critters as comic book characters with individual personalities.

Minerva_Cuerva_Installation_06_o2

Meanwhile, enormous ants represent industrial and agricultural labor. Echoes of the Texas State Fair’s midway evoke the quintessential cultural icons of Dallas. Framing the mural at one end of the Concourse are the words “LAND LIBERTY LIFE,” a message that is equally evocative of the American dream and of indigenous struggles for autonomy and food sovereignty.

Minerva_Cuerva_Installation_05_o3

 

Minerva_Cuevas_Press_Preview_3.jpg

Fine Lands Press Preview, May 11, 2018

This imagery and its layers of associations allow us to imagine unfolding narratives, or to insert our own memories of the Texas landscape. Although the mural clearly references hot-button issues such as pollution, migrant labor, and the power of the fossil fuel industry, there is no single overarching message. Rather, Cuevas holds a mirror up to Texas culture, reflecting it back to us with the added insights that creative metaphor brings. For example, she treats oil in several ways: as a natural resource, as an element of our economy (for better or worse), and as a visually fascinating substance that oozes and seeps across the landscape. More than a simple warning about the dangers of oil as a pollutant, this imagery evokes the role of fossil fuels as the bedrock of Texas industry and an important component of our deep-rooted sense of independence.

Through its examination and reframing of common cultural stereotypes surrounding our state, Fine Lands offers a new way of seeing and understanding subjects such as immigration, the politics surrounding natural resources, and ideas about Texan identity. The presence of bright white crosshairs distributed throughout the mural lends an undertone of menace. The sight of these crosshairs hovering on the wall just ahead implies an immediate threat, lurking right behind us. How we understand that implied threat, and the extent to which we participate in Cuevas’s reflection on the Texas landscape, is up to each of us.

Chloë Courtney is a Digital Collections Content Coordinator at the DMA.

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

Contemporary Additions

With 93 exhibitors, the 2018 Dallas Art Fair left no dearth of fantastic work to purchase through the Dallas Art Fair Foundation Acquisition program. For the Dallas Art Fair’s 10th anniversary, and the third year the DMA has participated in this exciting partnership, the contemporary collection gained eight new works by seven artists. This year, perhaps more than ever, we are reminded how much representation matters. The curatorial team (Anna Katherine Brodbeck, me, and the McDermott Intern for Contemporary Art Elise Armani), under the leadership of our Director, Agustín Arteaga, used the funds this year to select works that further diversify the contemporary collection. The artists range in age and background as well as the variety of mediums that they use.

Brie Ruais’s large wall-based ceramic was created from the same amount of clay as the artist’s own body weight. In her process-driven practice, Ruais spreads and molds the clay with her hands and feet, marks still evident once the pieces are partially glazed and fired. The DMA’s holdings in contemporary ceramics do not quite reflect the multitude of ceramic work being produced today, and we felt that this work was a striking addition to demonstrate the use of the medium expanded beyond traditional forms.

Brie Ruais, Broken Ground Red (130 lbs of clay spread out from center), 2017. Courtesy of the artist and Albertz Benda [image source: brieruais.com].

In Sanford Biggers’s Sirroco from 2016, the artist repurposes an antique quilt to use as the substrate of this incredible painting. Interested in the inherent geometry and varying textures of the quilts, Biggers references a historical, though unproven, narrative that on the Underground Railroad quilts were used as signposts to guide escaping slaves. Sanford Biggers is a cousin of the painter John Biggers (1924-2001), who is already represented in the DMA’s collection. Acquiring Sanford Biggers’s work provides a great opportunity to explore artistic lineages and make connections between generations.

Sanford Biggers, Sirroco, 2016. Courtesy of Massimo De Carlo Milan | London |Hong Kong [image source: massimodecarlo.com].

This was also the first year we purchased from a local gallery, and we were pleased to select Alicia Henry’s mixed-media work Untitled, 2017, from Liliana Bloch Gallery here in Dallas. In this portrait of a man, Henry uses stitched thread and ink to comment on identity and notions of beauty. Some of the marks appear, hauntingly, like scars and allude to some form of violence previously endured. With this truly powerful work, we further expand our holdings by contemporary African American artists.

Alicia Henry, Untitled, 2017. Courtesy of the artist and Liliana Bloch Gallery [image source: lilianablochgallery.com].

In addition to the works above, we are pleased to have also acquired Matthew Ronay’s sculpture Condition, 2018; Tony Lewis’s drawing Nes, 2018; two gelatin silver prints from Geraldo de Barros’s series Fotoformas Sao Paulo, 1949/2008; and Shara Hughes’s painting Gusto, 2018. It is difficult not to write about every work since they all bring something unique to the conversation. I encourage anyone interested in these acquisitions to visit the gallery websites to learn more about the artists.

Thank you to the generous donors to the Dallas Art Fair Foundation Acquisition program for their time and enthusiasm in making these acquisitions happen!

Chelsea Pierce is the Curatorial Administrative Assistant for Contemporary Art at the DMA.

Some Truths on Time-Based Media

Truth: 24 frames per second is the DMA’s first exhibition dedicated to time-based media and showcases many works from the Museum’s growing collection. But what is time-based media and why is it relevant? How do we experience it (and don’t forget you can experience it for free for the final week! The exhibition is on view through January 28)?

Time-Based Media (TBM) refers to works of art that have a fourth-dimension: time. Any artwork that changes meaningfully over a period of time can be considered TBM. Typically, TBM works are made using video, sound, film or slide-based installations, or computer technologies. As a viewer, a key aspect of experiencing TBM is observing it over time.

Nam June Paik, Music Box Based on Piano Piece Composed in Tokyo in 1954, 1994, Vintage TV cabinet, Panasonic 10 TV model 1050R, Panasonic mini video camera, incandescent light bulb and 144-note music box mechanism, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Dorace M. Fichtenbaum 2015.48.113

Beginning in the 1960s with the invention of the portapak (the first portable video equipment), artists who were losing interest in material objects turned to video and sound. Experimental artists like Nam June Paik, Wolf Vostell, and Joan Jonas were attracted to the transitory, immaterial qualities of sound and the moving image and the medium quickly spread.

TBM was viewed as an egalitarian art form, due to the medium’s relative affordability as well as its unchartered nature. Because TBM was not initially considered by art historians to be a valid art form, artists considered it a “founding father free zone,” where there was no canon against which to be measured. Video art, in particular, was used by many artists involved in social movements. Through its capability for wide distribution, video art offered opportunities for raising consciousness through documenting injustices and representing communities previously under or misrepresented. In Truth: 24 frames per second, Arthur Jafa’s work, Love Is the Message, the Message is Death, speaks poignantly to the role of media and representation in contemporary society.

Arthur Jafa, Love Is the Message, the Message Is Death, 2016, HD video, color and black and white, sound, 7:30 min., Courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown’s enterprise, NY

Unsurprisingly, over the following decades TBM works have evolved in step with technology. Contemporary artists produce TBM works with everything from cellphone footage to crowd sourced YouTube clips. One example of the influence of technological advance on TBM is Western Flag (Spindletop, Texas), a work by John Gerrard in the exhibition. Though it presents as a video, Gerrard’s work is actually an eternally generating digital portrait coded to change in response to the time of day and year in Spindletop, Texas. As the sun sets and rises in Spindletop, Gerrard’s software mimics the change of light in on the screen.

Because of its reliance on technology, TBM presents unique challenges to museums who collect it. Most works are allographic in nature, meaning they only exist when installed and functioning, and each time they are installed can be considered an iteration of the work. As a result, there are conceptual considerations as to where, how, and with what technology individual works can be realized. TBM also presents complex challenges to conservators, who are tasked with considering and combating issues such as technological obsolescence, digital preservation, and even broken hyperlinks.

John Gerrard, Western Flag (Spindletop Texas), 2017, 2017, simulation, Courtesy the artist and Simon Preston Gallery, New York & Thomas Dane Gallery, London

TBM works can be intimidating to engage with, but one important thing to realize is that you don’t need to be present for the duration of the work to experience it. If a work catches your attention, stick around for it to restart and watch it in entirety. Wall labels include a run time, noting how frequently each work repeats. The ideal way to experience an exhibition like Truth: 24 frames per second is to see it multiple times in order to engage with the works at different moments. But hurry in, because the exhibition closes this Sunday, January 28.

Elise Armani is the McDermott Intern for Contemporary Art at the DMA


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