Archive for the 'Exhibitions' Category

It’s All in the Family: The Earles in “Spirit Lodge”

For over a thousand years, Caddo peoples lived, traded goods, made art, and grew crops in communities clustered around rivers in present-day Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. They, like other Mississippian peoples, constructed earthen mounds that marked and shaped their landscape for political and ceremonial purposes. You can visit and learn more about three of those mounds at the Caddo Mounds State Historic Site in East Texas.

Colonization and colonialism dealt blow after blow to the Caddo, with epidemic diseases, forced removals to reservations, and the boarding school system all threatening the continuation of knowledge within Caddo communities. Many traditions survived through the concerted efforts of Caddo knowledge keepers, and others, though disrupted, have now been revived and revitalized through the work of contemporary artists and other cultural practitioners.

Among those artists are brothers Chad “Nish” Earles and Chase Kahwinhut Earles and their father, Wayne “Tay Sha” Earles, all of whom have artworks featured in Spirit Lodge: Mississippian Art from Spiro (on view through August 7, 2022).

Tah-nah-hah “Buffalo,” Chad “Nish” Earles, Caddo, 2018. Acrylic on maple skateboard deck

Academic and professional experience in art and graphic design, a background in graffiti art, and deep engagement with Caddo history and traditions have all shaped Chad’s art. These varied influences are visible in his piece in Spirit Lodge, Tah-Nah-Hah “Buffalo, a hand-painted skateboard deck featuring his characteristic bold lines and creative use of negative space.

Horse tripod vessel (Deé-Tumbah Kah’-Wis), Chase Kahwinhut Earles, Caddo, 2015. Ceramic. National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, 2018.12

Chase’s Batah Kuhuh alligator gar fish effigy bottle, acquired by the DMA in 2020, welcomes visitors into the exhibition. After its acquisition, Chase and Dr. Michelle Rich, the DMA’s Ellen and Harry S. Parker III Assistant Curator of the Arts of the Americas, had a conversation about his ceramic practice, which can be found here.

When you enter Spirit Lodge’s galleries, you’ll find not one, not two, but three additional works by Chase—two more of his ceramic vessels and one collaboration with Muscogee painter Starr Hardridge. The intricately incised designs on many of Chase’s pieces, as seen on Deé-Tumbah Kah’-Wis above, reflect his own spin on motifs used by pre-contact Caddo potters. Jeri Redcorn, the Caddo pottery revivalist, helped him start working in uniquely Caddo styles.

Inspiration isn’t only flowing from the older generations to the younger though—while Wayne had loved art since he was a child, his interest in stone carving was sparked by going to art shows with his sons (and some encouragement from Chase and Chad!). The stunning ceremonial weaponry featured in the exhibition is a testament to his rapid mastery of the art form. And there’s an extra layer of family connections—Wayne’s ceremonial mace shares a title with Chad’s skateboard deck, and his monolithic axe—like Chase’s effigy bottle—is in the shape of a gar fish.

Left: Ceremonial mace (Tah’-nah-ha—Buffalo), Wayne “Tay Sha” Earles, Caddo, 2018. Stone. National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, 2019.34.1
Right: Monolithic axe (P-i-ta-u-ni-wan’-ha—To Have Power), Wayne “Tay Sha” Earles, Caddo, 2018. Stone. National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, 2019.34.2

Join us for the Late Night event on March 25 to see Chad along with the Caddo Culture Club exhibiting traditional Caddo dances, Chase demonstrating his potting, and many other artists and knowledge keepers sharing their expertise. And of course, come experience the Earles family’s incredible art in person in Spirit Lodge: Mississippian Art from Spiro!

Becca Merriman-Goldring is the McDermott Intern for Arts of the Americas at the DMA.

Behind the Scenes: Installing Senga Nengudi’s “Water Composition I”

Influenced by Black cultural traditions and Japanese Gutai, artist Senga Nengudi’s work synthesizes multiple ideas circulating in the 1960s and 1970s: feminist practice, the role of materiality, and the relationship between activation, viewership, and performance. In her sculpture Water Composition I, currently on view in Slip Zone, Nengudi encloses colored water in plastic, creating a body-like form.

Senga Nengudi, Water Composition I, 1969-1970/2019, heat-sealed vinyl and colored water, TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art Fund

We asked Senior Preparator and IPM Coordinator Mary Nicolett what stood out to her about her experience installing this abstract work. Here’s what she had to say:

First priority upon being approached to work with Fran Baas, Interim Chief Conservator, on the Nengudi was sourcing two 2-gallon jugs for filling the piece. 

Once that had been done, we set about opening the contents of the packing tube. There I found a beautiful rope, tubing and funnels, pre-filled dye containers with pre-measured amounts, and of course the plastic “bags.” Also included, and very important, was the template for placement! We were able to figure out exactly where on the platform the piece would go, and it detailed the exact pinpointed location of each PVC bag including position of the heat-sealed-seam. 

It took a while to truly understand the tubing and funnel system. What I wasn’t prepared for was how exquisitely this PVC bags where packed, in order of installation, one by one. Preparators often wish for things to be packed better, but this was a thing of beauty! 

Fran and I set about the morning hooking the tubes into each bag and filling with the prescribed amount of dye mixed with the prescribed ionized distilled water. It was “slow and steady wins the race” and we did not spill a drop! Each funnel was marked with tape on the wall, as to which bag the tube went to, just to avoid any possible confusion. 

After all the bags were filled, Fran and I began removing bubbles in the bags by gently thumping each bag until the bubbles moved to the top. 

A bit of tape removal, sweeping, touch-up paint, and we were done! And it looks marvelous!

Come see this work for yourself in the free exhibition Slip Zone: A New Look at Postwar Abstraction in the Americas and East Asia, on view now through July 10, 2022.

Mary Nicolett is the Senior Preparator and IPM Coordinator at the DMA.

Highlights of “Pursuit of Beauty”

Museum exhibitions serve different purposes. Some do heavy lifting in the field of new scholarship about unknown or understudied artists or cultures. Others may capitalize on strengths in the museum’s collection and, thereby, present a richer, contextual understanding of an artistic movement. And yet others present to our visitors works by artists that address gaps in our own permanent collection—a role beautifully fulfilled by the present exhibition, Pursuit of Beauty: The May Family Collection. I would like to focus on a few works and what—besides their apparent beauty—makes them special to me.

William Merritt Chase, Weary, c. 1889, oil on panel, The Collection of Eleanor and C. Thomas May, Jr., 114.2019.17
Gertrude Fiske, Contemplation, before 1916, oil on canvas, The Collection of Eleanor and C. Thomas May, Jr.

Weary (1889), a small interior scene by William Merritt Chase is a quintessential example of the artist’s skills of observation that also provides us a peek into his well-appointed studio in Manhattan. Chase was not striving to make a narrative here. The subject is beauty alone—of a sitter placed within a beautiful setting full of patterns and textures. The large Japanese screen in the background, the plush velvet of the cushion beneath her feet, the sparkle of gilding on the armature of the chair, and the gleam of light on the large vase in the background at right, are all effects that lure and please the eye. A wonderful counterpoint to Chase’s creation is Contemplation (1915) by Gertrude Fiske, an artist trained in Boston. While it too presents a contemplative woman set in an interior, the artist is presenting to us a modern woman for the new age. Using complimentary colors of orange and green to frame the sitter, the crisp striped wallpaper effectively foregrounds her. Fiske further illuminates her with light flooding in from the upper left, which simultaneously bathes her face and torso in yellow that reflects off the material at the right edge.  

Theodore Robinson, Miss Motes and Her Dog Shep in a Boat, 1893, oil on canvas, The Collection of Eleanor and C. Thomas May, Jr.
John Henry Twachtman, Frozen Brook, 1893, oil on canvas, The Collection of Eleanor and C. Thomas May, Jr., 114.2019.12

American Impressionism is underrepresented at the DMA and two works within the May Family Collection created in the exact same year offer comparison of two artists whose means (light & brushwork), achieved different ends. Theodore Robinson’s small canvas of Miss Motes and Her Dog Shep in a Boat (1893) is an oil sketch by the first and most important of the American Impressionists to paint alongside Monet at Giverny between 1886 and 1892. Robinson’s intent was to capture an individual in a fleeting moment and his quick touches of brushwork fix her at a point in time as well as evoking the optical effect of forms blurred in reflection on the dappled surface of the water. In Frozen Brook (1893), John Twachtman also endeavored to capture a particular moment, but his motivation was to capture the atmospheric and emotive effects of a winter’s day. His brushwork is more varied, complex, and labor intensive (daubed, scumbled, and dragged) to conjure the optical effect of heavy, wet snow on the cusp of spring, when all is blanketed in contemplative silence. 

I do hope that you will come to the DMA to explore these five works for yourselves, along with the other twenty-three now on view. 

Sue Canterbury is The Pauline Gill Sullivan Curator of American Art and Interim Allen and Kelli Questrom Curator of Works on Paper 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

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.

Behind the Scenes: Treatment of an Early Work by Henry Ossawa Tanner

Henry Ossawa Tanner’s paintings in the conservation studio

The Dallas Museum of Art and Art Bridges Foundation partnered in early January of this year to undertake the conservation treatment and technical study of Art Bridge’s newly acquired masterpiece The Thankful Poor by Henry Ossawa Tanner. Additionally, the project will allow for the first public presentation of the work, curated by Sue Canterbury at the DMA.

Before conservation treatment: Henry Ossawa Tanner, The Thankful Poor, 1894, oil on canvas, Owned by Art Bridges Foundation

When The Thankful Poor arrived at the DMA’s conservation studio, it was already strikingly beautiful. The composition holds space and immediately draws the viewer in. The painting is double-sided, presenting an unfinished version of The Young Sabot Maker on the reverse, a composition Tanner would complete the following year and which now resides in the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art’s collection.

The Young Sabot Maker on the back of The Thankful Poor

Prior to any conservation treatment, a thorough examination is always undertaken, including archival documentation research relating to any previous interventions. It became apparent that the work had undergone at least one relatively minor restoration campaign in the 1970s. It was also evident that the painting was cleaned and re-varnished in a second treatment, though no verifiable documentation was found. UV illumination was used to better understand which varnishes and treatment materials might have been used, as surface materials such as varnishes and areas of retouching can be differentiated based on their observed fluorescence. In this painting, the varnish is seen glowing green, and older areas of restoration present as black spots.

Here, the front of the work is illuminated with UV light. The streaky green appearance is the fluorescence exhibited by the surface varnish, and the black spots are areas of older restoration.

As both of these treatments took place many years earlier, the varnish layers had become discolored, both yellowed and cloudy. An old tear that had been repaired using wax and paper had also begun to open and needed to be addressed. Finally, a thick layer of discolored adhesive was scattered throughout the composition on the reverse of the canvas.

Left: A tear before treatment. Right: First image showing tear before treatment; detail showing adhesive residues on reverse of canvas.

Tanner was an innovative artist, known to experiment with layering techniques that require especially mindful cleaning approaches. Cleaning tests were conducted under microscopic magnification to determine a cleaning protocol to remove the layers of discolored varnish. To better understand the boundary between paint and varnish, a microscopic sample was used to gain a view of the various layers. The resulting cleaning process was executed almost entirely under the microscope to ensure the most delicate layers were preserved.

Layers seen in a photomicrograph of a cross-sectional sample at 20X magnification

The tear was then mended and areas of losses were filled and retouched using reversible conservation materials. Wide cracks, known as traction cracks, were carefully retouched to better integrate the surface visually.

Left: Detail of areas of traction cracking before treatment. Right: Same detail after treatment.

The cleaning was transformative. The layers of discolored varnish lifted to reveal a colorful palette previously unseen. The overall tone of the painting shifted to unveil a much cooler composition, balancing the contrast.

It was an honor to work on this beautiful painting. Results from the treatment allow the work to be appreciated as the artist intended. Tanner was a master of tone and light, both of which he captured so beautifully in this magnificent composition. Research and treatment work were done collaboratively with my fabulous curatorial colleagues, both at the DMA and at Art Bridges, and I want to give a heartfelt acknowledgment to Sue Canterbury, Martha MacLeod, and Margi Conrads for their collaboration.

Reverse of painting before (left) and after treatment (right)
Front of painting before (left) and after treatment (right).

Laura Eva Hartman is the Paintings Conservator 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.

The White North

Julian Charrière, Towards No Earthly Pole, 2019. Film still. Courtesy of the artist; DITTRICH & SCHLECHTRIEM, Berlin; Galerie Tschudi, Zuoz; Sean Kelly, New York; and Sies+Höke, Düsseldorf. Copyright the artist; VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, Germany 

Julian Charrière’s work Towards No Earthly Pole draws its title from Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s epitaph in Westminster Abbey, London, for Sir John Franklin, the British explorer lost in an ill-fated expedition to find the Northwest Passage. The epitaph reads in full: 

NOT HERE: THE WHITE NORTH HAS THY BONES; AND THOU, HEROIC SAILOR-SOUL, ART PASSING ON THINE HAPPIER VOYAGE NOW TOWARD NO EARTHLY POLE. 

Franklin’s doomed expedition was the source of public fascination in the late 19th century and continues to shape our perception of Arctic exploration to this day. Franklin embarked in 1845 with two ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, on his third attempt to discover the Northwest Passage, a sea route between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the Canadian Arctic. The ships became icebound in 1847 in the Victoria Strait and were abandoned in April 1848 after nearly two dozen officers and men, including Franklin, perished in the cold. The rest made for the Canadian mainland but were never heard from again. Of the 129 men who began the expedition, none survived.  

The British Admiralty launched several search parties over the subsequent decades, recovering artifacts and remains from the doomed expedition. Their findings suggested that the crew succumbed to hypothermia, starvation, lead poisoning, exposure, and disease. In some of the most sensational findings, examinations of remains offered potential evidence of cannibalism. The search for Franklin over the course of nearly 30 rescue missions better mapped the Canadian coastline and led to the eventual discovery of a Northwest Passage, but it also left a lasting legacy in the cultural imagination of Victorian Britain. The endeavor and its failure offered a narrative of man’s struggle against nature, the tragic romance and heroism of exploration, and the overwhelming power of a landscape alien to the British public.  

Frederic Edwin Church, The Icebergs, 1861, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Norma and Lamar Hunt, 1979.28

This preoccupation with the Arctic and the looming specter of Franklin is evident in the American painter Frederic Edwin Church’s 1861 work The Icebergs. A jewel of the DMA’s collection, the painting is emblematic of the sweeping views and dramatic uses of light that characterized the Hudson River School, with which Church was associated. Church worked from studies produced during his own month-long expedition to Newfoundland and Labrador in 1859, where he observed the material qualities of the icebergs and their Arctic surroundings. 

Initially exhibited in New York and Boston in 1861 with the title The North, the painting failed to attract buyers due to the ongoing Civil War, despite immense praise from American audiences. In 1863 Church sent the painting to London, where he hoped to attract interest from his British supporters. Before transporting the work across the Atlantic, he made two notable alterations: renaming the work with its present title, The Icebergs, to avoid conflation with the Union; and adding a broken mast to the foreground. Though the artist’s motivations for including the mast remain unknown, it may have served as a reference to the Franklin expedition, synonymous with the devastated promise of Arctic exploration.  

The same interest in the beguiling and terrible power of the icebergs that captivated Church is evident in Towards No Earthly Pole. The sublime glacial landscape appears fantastic and otherworldly, something beyond the comprehension of humanity. Though Indigenous communities have long staked out ways of living symbiotically with the Arctic environment, Franklin’s expedition and Church’s painting point to the hubris of imperial attempts to conquer and claim the polar landscape. Charrière’s film suggests that despite our advances in scientific knowledge and ability to map the world, we still have a fascination with and ignorance of a land that retains its power to resist us.

Hilde Nelson is the Curatorial Assistant for Contemporary Art at the DMA.

Gertrude Stein and Juan Gris: A Close Connection

Photograph of Gertrude Stein in her salon, writing, 1920, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas Papers. American Literature Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University

This is the history of Juan Gris.
—Gertrude Stein[1]

After the Salon des Indépendants in 1920, Juan Gris wrote a letter to Gertrude Stein, putting an end to more than half a decade of silence between them:

I am greatly flattered by what you say about my contribution at the Indépendants, more especially as you have a great understanding of painting.[2]

Stein was an American novelist, born in 1874 into an affluent upper-middle-class Jewish family. She studied psychology and medicine before moving to Paris in 1904. There she became one of the foremost connoisseurs of modern art and an early champion of Cubism. She was especially close to Picasso, and it is likely that she met Gris sometime in 1910 through their mutual friend; however, she did not start collecting Gris’s work until 1914, when she bought the first painting from the artist’s gallerist, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler.

Gertrude Stein was particularly interested in papier collé works by Gris.
Image: Juan Gris, The Lamp, 1914, pasted paper, gouache, and conté crayon on canvas, Private collection

Gris and Stein seem to have been on friendly terms up until World War I. She always tried to support her artists while at the same time adding works to her impressive collection. When the war broke out in August 1914, and Gris’s German gallerist had to leave France, the artist found himself without income. Upon Picasso’s appeal, Stein tried to help Gris out by setting up an opportunity for him to exhibit in New York in the gallery of Michael Brenner. Additionally, she and Brenner offered monetary support in exchange for works. Kahnweiler, who thought the war would be a short affair, prohibited this deal and Gris had to decline the offer. Stein broke off contact with the artist until her visit to the Salon in 1920.

Their friendship resumed, grew stronger, and became more intimate. Gris valued Stein’s feedback, and he trusted her taste in and opinions on art. They visited each other frequently and were known to engage in deep and intellectual conversations. She appreciated the artist especially for the exactitude of his Cubism and his intricate compositions. When Gris’s sales and self-esteem were low, Stein tirelessly promoted his work by sending journalists to his studio, publishing texts about him, and collecting his works. In 1926 they collaborated on a project, with Gris contributing four lithographs to Stein’s publication A Book Concluding with as a Wife Has a Cow: A Love Story.

A sign of their close relationship, she was the only one to call him “Juan,” emphasizing his Spanish heritage, while he referred to himself as “Jean,” being enamored with everything French.

Most of Gris’s works in Stein’s collection are from the 1920s.
Image: Juan Gris, The Electric Lamp, 1925, oil on canvas, Centre Pompidou, Paris, Musée national d’art moderne/Centre de création industrielle. Gift of Louise and Michel Leiris, 1984. On deposit at Musée d’art moderne et contemporain de la Ville de Strasbourg since 1999

When Gris died in May 1927, Stein was heartbroken. Two months later, she published a personal epitaph in the magazine Transition. In her Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, Stein would later acknowledge Gris’s importance to Cubism by elevating him to the same level as Picasso, where in her eyes he belonged:

[T]he only real cubism is that of Picasso and Juan Gris. Picasso created it and Juan Gris permeated it with his clarity and exaltation.[3]

Christine Burger is the Research Assistant for European Art at the DMA.


[1] Gertrude Stein, The Life of Juan Gris: The Life and Death of Juan Gris, in: In Transition: A Paris Anthology: Writing and Art from Transition Magazine 1927-30. New York, 1990,195.
[2] Gris to Stein, February 2, 1920, letter XCI, in Douglas Cooper, trans. and ed., Letters of Juan Gris [1913-1927]. Collected by Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, London, 1956, 76.
[3] Gertrude Stein, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, New York, 2020, 110.


Archives

Flickr Photo Stream

Categories