Archive for the 'works of art' Category

Pride of Place: Dallas Artists Respond

It’s always fascinating to see which objects in the DMA’s collection artists are drawn to because it can be a window into what is on their mind and how they think about their own work. For the last three years, the DMA has partnered with the local arts nonprofit Arttitude to celebrate the work of LGBTQ+ visual and performing artists in Dallas through programs like State of the Arts and our annual Pride Block Party. Since we are unable to tour the galleries with local artists for Pride Month this year, we reached out to two artists who exhibited in Arttitude’s recent MariconX show and invited them to find and respond to an object in the DMA’s collection that resonates with their own work. Here is what they had to say: 

Armando Sebastián is a Dallas-based painter whose work draws on Mexican folk art and his own life experiences to explore themes of gender and identity. Sebastián describes his style as akin to magical realism, and he is particularly interested in referencing the traditional Mexican folk art genre of ex voto paintings depicting divine interventions into human misfortunes.

Here are a few recent paintings from Armando Sebastián. You can see more of his work on his website and on Instagram

Images: Armando Sebastián, Los Amados / Live in Harmony, 2020; I know who I am, 2020; The Dreamers, 2019

Sebastián chose the 18th-century painting Christ as Savior of the World (Salvator Mundi), reflecting:

Unknown artist, Christ as Savior of the World (Salvator Mundi), late 18th century, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Cleofas and Celia de la Garza Collection, gift of Mary de la Garza-Hanna and Virginia de la Garza and an anonymous donor, 1994.37.1

“The angels above are conspiring to the master plan on earth. The trinity holds flaming hearts, perhaps the interpretation of humankind. On the ground you see the depiction of evil, a beast eating a fruit. The ladder to the heavens is full of obstacles that makes it impossible for anyone to climb. I personally appreciate narrative in art, the possibility to convey complex ideas and hidden meanings through your work.” 

Olivia Peregrino is a Dallas-based photographer working in portraiture and documentary photography. She began her career as a photojournalist, and her work has expanded to include uplifting portraits of women and Latinx LGBTQ+ communities, event photography, and documentary filmmaking.

Here are a few recent photographs by Olivia Peregrino. To see more of her work, follow her on Instagram or visit her website.

This slideshow contains nudity.

Images: Olivia Peregrino, Omar, El Salvador, LGBT Immigrant, ongoing project, 2020; Rafael, Colombia, LGBT Immigrant, ongoing project, 2020; Wandel, Dominican Republic, LGBT Immigrant, ongoing project, 2020; Melissa, Natural Bodies, 2018

Olivia chose Robert Mapplethorpe’s 1981 photograph Ajitto, saying the following:

Robert Mapplethorpe, Ajitto, 1981, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, General Acquisitions Fund, © The Estate of Robert Mapplethorpe. Used with permission, 1981.99

“Robert Mapplethorpe is one of my favorite artists for the beauty of his portraits and his mastery of light and composition. Ajitto’s portrait perfectly reflects Mapplethorpe’s recurring obsessions in his photographs. The representation of the human body through the female and male nude is a theme that I, as an artist, also seek to show in my portraits, but from a feminine and contemporary perspective.”

DSO x DMA: A European Art-Inspired Playlist

We asked Dallas Symphony Orchestra musicians to curate their own Spotify playlist that pairs music with artworks from our European collection. Hit play and take an immersive stroll through our virtual galleries to hear how each piece of music harmonizes with the art, and read deeper into each musician’s notes here:

Derick Baegert, The Descent from the Cross, about 1480-1490, oil on oak panel, Dallas Museum of Art, Marguerite and Robert Hoffman Fund in memory of Dr. William B. Jordan, 2018.14

Kari Kettering, Cello
Artwork: Derick Baegert, The Descent from the Cross
Track: Johann Sebastian Bach, St. Matthew Passion
I picked J. S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion for this painting because it is a masterpiece of sacred music and to me nothing else more perfectly and divinely depicts the story of the crucifixion. The whole work is almost three hours long so if I had to pick one movement to accompany the painting it would be No.64, “Am Abend, da es kuhle war”. It occurs right after the Evangelist speaks of the scene depicted in the painting.

Giulio Cesare Procaccini, Ecce Homo, after 1615, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Algur H. Meadows and the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated, 1969.16

Jenna Barghouti, Violin
Artwork: Giulio Cesare Procaccini, Ecce Homo
Track: Johann Sebastian Bach, Harpsichord Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, BWV 1052: I. Allegro
Though written about a century after Pocaccini’s Ecce Homo was brought to lifethe second movement of J.S. Bach’s Harpsichord Concerto No. 1 in D minor felt like the perfect setting for Pocaccini’s work. The movement opens with an eerie, chromatic melody that is played in unison by the strings and the harpsichord. The dramatic opening almost illuminates the surroundings of Pocaccini’s work; the looming figures surrounding Christ who portray indifference to his suffering. The short introduction paves the way for the glistening harpsichord sound to soar above the orchestra. The lone harpsichord embodies Christ’s heightened emotions. His suffering comes through in the highly embellished, yet despairing, solo harpsichord melody. The harpsichord draws the listeners in through the rest of the movement, just like Ecce Homo gradually reveals new details with each glance.

Jean Baptiste Marie Pierre, The Abduction of Europa, 1750, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O’Hara Fund, 1989.133.FA

Ted Soluri, Principal Bassoon (Irene H. Wadel & Robert I. Atha, Jr. Chair)
Artwork: Jean Baptiste Marie Pierre, The Abduction of Europa
Track: Jean-Philippe Rameau, Zaïs, Prologue,: EntrActe
The Rococo Era of painting and music expands on the Baroque style with more color and lightness. The rococo French composer Jean-Phillipe Rameau’s music is a perfect pairing with the work. The music is light and energetic with wonderful colors in the orchestral writing.

Elisabeth Louise Vigée‑Lebrun, Portrait of Natalia Zakharovna Kolycheva, née Hitrovo, 1799, oil on canvas, Lent by the Michael L. Rosenberg Foundation, 32.2019.14

Willa Henigman, Associate Principal Oboe
Artwork: Elisabeth Louise Vigée-Lebrun, Portrait of Natalia Zakharovna Kolycheva, née Hitrovo
Track: Franz Joseph Haydn, Symphony in B flat, H.I No.85 -“La Reine”: 1. Adagio – Vivace
Since Vigée-Lebrun was Marie Antoinette’s portraitist, I have chosen one of Haydn’s “Paris” Symphonies, nicknamed “La Reine” (“The Queen”) after Marie Antoinette declared it her favorite of Haydn’s works. The first movement of the Symphony captures the grace of 18th-century society but also contains moments of drama, which I feel matches the elegance and rich colors of this portrait.

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Bonneville, Savoy, 1803, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Nancy Hamon in memory of Jake L. Hamon with additional donations from Mrs. Eugene D. McDermott, Mrs. James H. Clark, Mrs. Edward Marcus and the Leland Fikes Foundation, Inc., 1985.97.FA

Theodore Harvey, Associate Principal Cello (Holly & Tom Mayer Chair)
Artwork: Joseph Mallord William Turner, Bonneville, Savoy
Track: Edward Elgar, In the South, Op. 50
Even though Bonneville, Savoy is in France, “Savoy” is also the name of the royal family of Italy, and I was thinking about Englishmen being inspired by visits to continental Europe. Elgar’s In the South (Alassio) came to mind. We performed that at the DSO not too long ago.

Gustave Courbet, Fox in the Snow, 1860, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O’Hara Fund, 1979.7.FA

Gregory Raden, Principal Clarinet (Mr. & Mrs. C. Thomas May, Jr. Chair)
Artwork: Gustave Courbet, Fox in the Snow
Track: Claude Debussy, String Quartet in G Minor, Op.10, L. 85: 2. Scherzo (Assez vif et bien rythmé)
I chose the second movement of Debussy’s String Quartet in G minor. In this movement, I could feel the coolness of the snowy landscape and the sense of the victorious fox with his prey after the chase.

Claude Monet, Valle Buona, Near Bordighera, 1884, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated, 1981.127

Christine Hwang, Viola
Artwork: Claude Monet, Valle Buona, Near Bordighera
Track: Hector Berlioz, Harold en Italie, Op. 16, H. 68: III. Sérénade d’un Montagnard des Abruzzes à sa maîtresse (Allegro assai – Allegretto)
When I saw this painting, Berlioz’s Harold in Italy came to mind (yay, solo viola ). I’m particularly reminded of the third movement, in which a mountaineer sings to his beloved in the Abruzzi region of Italy. It’s both rugged and picturesque at the same time.

Paul Gauguin, I Raro te Oviri (Under the Pandanus), 1891, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of the Adele R. Levy Fund, Inc., 1963.58.FA

Stephen Ahearn, Clarinet
Artwork: Paul Gauguin, I Raro te Oviri (Under the Pandanus)
Track: Claude Debussy, Suite bergamasque: I. Prelude
Debussy’s Suite Bergamasque is one of his most famous piano works, and was composed around the same time that Gauguin painted “I Raro te Oviri”. The first movement “Prelude” pairs wonderfully with the Gauguin as they both use a bold color pallet and clear, concise structure to create their respective scenes. Debussy’s Suite was beautifully orchestrated by André Caplet, a contemporary of Debussy’s, and the recording I’ve suggested was conducted by Jun Märkl. Märkl is a frequent guest conductor at the Dallas Symphony and I always look forward to working with him.

Edvard Munch, Thuringian Forest, 1904, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., bequest of Mrs. Eugene McDermott, 2019.67.15.McD

Maria Schleuning, Violin (Norma & Don Stone Chair)
Artwork: Edvard Munch, Thuringian Forest
Track: Gustav Mahler, Symphony No. 1 in D Major: 4. Stürmisch bewegt
I love the idea of Mahler Symphony No. 1 for this, but I would suggest the opening of the 4th movement. I think it expresses the deforestation and bleeding/anguish depicted in the painting perfectly.

Gerrit Rietveld, Zig-Zag Chair, 1932, stained pinewood, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., 2018.8.McD

George Nickson, Principal Percussion (Margie & William H. Seay Chair)
Artwork: Gerrit Rietveld, Zig-Zag Chair
Track: Igor Stravinsky, The Soldier’s Tale (Histoire du soldat)
This reminds me of the wit and fun angularity of Stravinsky’s music from this period. I think Soldier’s Tale fits this really well!

Closed but Still Caring for Our Collection

The DMA’s doors may be temporarily closed, but our dedicated Art Care Team is still working hard to make sure all the Museum’s treasures stay in good condition! Take a look behind the scenes at what goes on during a typical “art check” by our team of essential staff members from our Conservation, Collections, and Security & Operations departments, and how they are keeping the galleries, the storage areas, and the rest of the building safe.

Pest traps must be set out to ensure we don’t have any small but destructive critters taking up residence in our art areas!
Building Manager John Claire helps collect pest traps in the Reves Galleries.
Paintings Conservator Laura Hartman inspects the pest traps in an art storage area.
Senior Preparator and IPM Coordinator Mary Nicolett uses a microscope to closely inspect the pest traps.
Building Assistant Luke Peterson conducts a temperature and humidity check in an art storage area.
Security Manager Shalamar Jackson and Associate Registrar Katie Cooper examine the painting racks in art storage.
Assistant Objects Conservator Elena Torok performs a modified air exchange in a case with a degrading early plastic⁠—Naum Gabo’s Constructed Head No. 2.
No horsing around here! Associate Registrar Katie Cooper conducts thorough gallery rounds.

All Bow Before the Bow

Interim Chief Conservator Fran Baas with Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse’s L’Alsace

As the checklist was being developed for the recent reinstallation of the European Art Galleries, curator Dr. Nicole Myers consulted with the Objects Conservation Team about the DMA’s terracotta bust L’Alsace by French sculptor Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse. This mid-19th-century sculpture had not been featured in our permanent collection galleries in over 10 years, and the re-envisioned gallery design, featuring recent bequests and a more in-depth narrative of European art history, was just the opportunity to review some of our holdings. When we assessed the sculpture’s condition, we agreed on a few issues that needed to be addressed prior to display. Though structurally sound, this sculpture needed some attention to increase the aesthetic legibility. The curatorial-conservation collaboration is an insightful joint investigation as both subject matter experts work together to best present a work of art to the public.

Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse, L’Alsace, before 1883, terracotta, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Dr. and Mrs. Edmund Pillsbury, Fort Worth, in honor of the opening of the new Dallas Museum of Art, 1983.153

This captivating terracotta sculpture is a symbolic representation of an idealized young woman of the Alsace region—a politically charged cultural and historic area because governance passed back and forth between France and Germany from the Thirty Years’ War to World War II. Though it is unclear exactly when in the 19th century this bust was created, the Alsatian culture is a unique mix of French and German influences.

The subject’s elaborate hairstyle (crimped bangs and two long braids, also called “plaits” in the 19th century), a section of an embroidered traditional dirndl apron dress, and bunches of flowers at her chest and in her hair are all visual cues to amplify the allegory of femininity and nationality. In the mid-19th century, the societal fashion across the European countries celebrated elaborate and rather complicated hair, and even for a time, these crimped bangs. A woman’s crowning glory was her hair. Keep in mind, hairstyle codes for women differed with age and even marital status. And, in this sculpture, we also get a snapshot of the region.

Charles Spindler, cover of Léon Boll’s “Wines and Coteaux d’Alsace” brochure, 1900

To both increase the legibility of and focus the viewer on the sculpture’s attributes (both in subject matter and material appreciation), the goals were to give it a general cleaning and to minimize stains and discolored old repairs. The minor oily grime discolorations seen around the high-touch areas, such as the underarm area, were reduced mechanically with vinyl erasers. The deep interstices in the terracotta had accumulated layers of dust, darkening the recesses even further. Dust and some minor spots of mold were carefully removed with a selection of tools (soft brushes, swabs, and a HEPA vacuum with micro-attachments).

Notice the minor oily grime discoloration around high-touch areas, such as this underarm area, before conservation.
Before and after reducing discolorations mechanically with vinyl erasers

Unifying the appearance of a previous restoration (a large patched hole on the back of the sculpture) with the surrounding areas was the most time-consuming part of the treatment. This old restoration was still structurally stable but drew unnecessary attention because the old fill materials used did not match the terracotta. So, the areas were toned back with reversible conservation paints.

The old restoration fills did not match the original terracotta.
Fran Baas treating the sculpture
Before and after treatment

She is now on view, under an acrylic case for protection from dust and grimy hands, with each side visible and offering something interesting for the viewer. Please find this work in our virtual gallery and spend time appreciating its craftsmanship and how the terracotta clay was manipulated by the artist before firing. You can see the artist’s fingerprints in the flower petals at her chest, revealing the creative spontaneity during the working process. Notice her exquisite outfit depicting her regional identity but especially appreciate that large bow. She’s gorgeous—even more so now that she’s been cleaned and restored!

Notice the details in the flowers, including the artist’s fingerprints in the flower petals.

Fran Baas is the Interim Chief Conservator at the DMA.

Collecting and Reflecting

The DMA houses art collections from far and wide, and from many different collectors. But collecting isn’t just for artworks to be exhibited in a museum! Many of us are our very own curators of art or objects that hold personal significance and memories. We asked DMA staff members what they collect, and here’s what they shared:

Melissa Brito
Teaching Specialist for Family and Access Programs
One of my current collecting habits consists of gathering disposed remnants of memories, specifically color-positive slide film. I’m drawn to these personal, forgotten-about moments that can be monumental, intimate, or mundane.

Cynthia Calabrese
Chief Development Officer
Exactly 30 years ago, I was given a “condiment fork” as a wedding gift and I was told, “may this be the first unique thing you collect in your married life.” Since then, I’ve added to it and collected everything from cocktail shakers, to large soup spoons, to dessert plates.

Katie Cooper
Associate Registrar for the Permanent Collection
Our small collection is an accumulation of our travels and passions. From this Murakami print found at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth to a Frank Lloyd Wright woodcut from his Chicago Robie House, our collection is a warm reminder of memories past. 

Chloë Courtney
McDermott Graduate Intern for Contemporary Art
My mother has an ever-changing collection of natural materials and found objects. It includes Roseville ceramics, seeds, bones, and playful elements such as tiny cows. Both whimsical and morbid, it operates as a memento mori in our home.

Lizz DeLera
Creative Director
Keith Haring—a personal connection. My design degree is from the university in his hometown of Kutztown, PA, and we both lived in NYC. The poster is from the F train on the subway, and he gave me a few of the others.

Heather Ecker
Marguerite S. Hoffman & Thomas W. Lentz Curator of Islamic & Medieval Art
I love this print—a colorized version of a woodcut by Antoine Valérie Bertrand based upon a drawing by illustrator Gustave Doré (1832-83) that was published as part of the weekly travel journal Le Tour du Monde (Around the World) sold in French railway stations—because it is so operatic and perfectly renders 19th-century French stereotypes of Spain.

KC Hurst
Director of Marketing and Communications
Hypebeast sneakerheads won’t be impressed, but this humble collection of 41 pairs is my personal ode to sneaker culture. No sacred, unworn kicks over here—I’m just a girl who loves a good pair of high-tops. 

Danielle Lemi
Evaluator
This oil painting was created in 2019 by Sacramento-based artist Carmen Julie Velasco. After submitting grades, a professor enjoys a Sunday afternoon. Reaching a red light, she listens to Barbara Lewis’s 1963 hit Hello Stranger. She exhales and sees a restaurant where she met a former lover. What places hold memories for you?

Stacey Lizotte
DMA League Director of Adult Programs
I started collecting porcelain Disney figurines when I was in elementary school. I would choose characters from my favorite movies, but Disney stopped making these types of figurines in the early 90s. This made the last additions to my collection Ariel, Flounder, and Sebastian from The Little Mermaid.

Patrick Pelz
Manager of Membership and Onsite Experience
This is a Saturday morning from January, and shows about a third of our plant collection. After some extremely cold and LONG winters in Chicago, we decided to make sure we were constantly surrounded by green year-round.

Emily Schiller
Head of Interpretation
We pick up a 3-D magnet from any new city we visit. We specifically look for ones that have been poorly painted—bonus points for new shapes and gratuitous gemstones. There are also sub-groupings, like the trio of “scrolls” from Jerusalem, Paris, and Sydney.

Queta Moore Watson
Senior Editor
I have more tote bags than I have shoes! When I travel, I always buy a tote bag. They’re not only useful but also a wonderful reminder of my trip. Here are a few from my collection.

Art Runs in the Family

Creativity is all around us in Dallas, and we love highlighting and honoring our local creative community at the Museum. This year, we have the special opportunity to celebrate the work of two relatives: Willard “The Texas Kid” Watson, whose drawings are in For a Dreamer of Houses, and his nephew Stephen McGee, whose painting is featured in We Are ARTISTS: The Stewpot Art Program.   

Willard Watson, affectionately known as “The Texas Kid,” was raised in Dallas and wore many hats—literally and figuratively—over his lifetime. He served as a solider in the South Pacific  in World War II, and was also a tailor, a cook, a carpenter, an upholsterer, a shade-tree mechanic, a handyman, and an actor. Around town, he was best known for his creative homemade outfits, customized cars, and front yard sculpture garden.

Willard “The Texas Kid” Watson’s customized car
Photograph of Willard “The Texas Kid” Watson seated outside of his home and posing in front of the sculptures placed in his yard for his portrait. Creator: Unknown, 1993–01. This photograph is part of the collection entitled The Black Academy of Arts and Letters Records and was provided by UNT Libraries Special Collections.

His artworks often included found objects and everyday materials. Using colored markers, pencil, and paper, Watson created a series of Life Cycle drawings that showed scenes from his home and family life and were narrated with vivid captions. Thinking back on his childhood in Dallas, he wrote:

My middle sister, Mable, had taken sick and I to go down to Elm Street to Otis drug store to pick up some medicine, But first I had to get some money from Daddy, who worked at S&S grocery store. I had to walk a mile down Central tracks and a mile back. And when I got Back my mother was drinking Buttermilk, I will never forget it. Tears were in her eyes, and it made me feel very Bad. She was depressed. She Loved her children so much that when one got sick she’d show it By tears. She say she Be praying But she always had tears. I kind cheered her up. The other Children were out Playing.

Willard Watson, “The Texas Kid,” born 1921 in Caddo Parish, LA; died 1995 in Dallas, TX; Untitled, 1985. Colored marker and pencil. Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Friends of Willard Watson, 1985.181.8

Watson shared his love of art with his nephew Stephen McGee. McGee relished working in acrylic paint, pastels, colored pencils, and charcoal mediums. He particularly enjoyed portraiture, and he completed art projects for the nonprofit organization CitySquare that involved creating drawings of former talk show host Jay Leno, Lyle Lovett, Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, and Dallas Cowboy Tyron Smith. McGee had loved art since he was a small child, and next to his love for God, art was his life.

Stephen McGee working on a portrait of Robert Johnson
Retrieved April 10, 2020, from FPCDallas
Fast Cheetah by Stephen McGee

McGee became a member of the Stewpot Art Program community in 2010. The Stewpot offers a safe haven for people experiencing housing insecurity and homelessness in Dallas, and the Art Program provides class time and art supplies for individuals looking to express themselves creatively, grow as artists, and support themselves through the sale of their work. You can learn more about The Stewpot and how to support their work here.

The Art Program helped McGee take his artistic practice to a higher level, form lasting friendships, and make his life more positive. McGee passed away on August 8, 2019, leaving a host of family and friends who love and remember Stephen “The Artist” McGee for his tremendous resilience, kindness, and creativity.

How are you spending time with loved ones right now? How are Willard’s scenes similar or different from your home life? Have you ever shared a special legacy with an important person in your life or passed down something you care about to a younger generation? These artworks make us think of home, family, and the ways that we can support one another during these uncertain times. 

We hope the artwork and life stories of Willard Watson and Stephen McGee inspire you to create, share joy with your loved ones, and continue to explore our city’s rich creative communities in For a Dreamer of Houses and We Are ARTISTS: The Stewpot Art Program.

Stephen McGee with his Stewpot Art Program class on a visit to the DMA. Stephen is third from the right in the white shirt.

Mary Ann Bonet is the Director of Community Engagement and Lindsay O’Connor is the Manager of School Programs at the DMA.

Making Ourselves at Home

Our homes have taken on new significance in these past few weeks. We are getting to know much more intimately our rooms, our furniture, and certainly our roommates. We might be noticing the dust more on the floors, or the cracks in the ceiling. We might be noting habits that perhaps were always there, but have come to the fore.

Is there a chair you prefer to sit in for comfort? A window you often find yourself daydreaming out of? Is there a favorite sweatshirt or blanket you reach for when you feel a draft?

Daniel Barsotti, Untitled (Window), 1977, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, Polaroid Foundation grant, 1977.46, © Daniel Barsotti

There might be things we are lacking, things that had broken that we had been meaning to replace. We might be farther away from the homes in which we were raised, and the families inside, and it might feel harder to get to those places.

Romare Bearden, The Family, 1975, intaglio, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Michael L. Rosenberg, 1994.245.5, © Romare Bearden Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, New York, New York

Maybe that family heirloom is being revisited more often now. Hands grazing over the nooks and crannies in the wood. Smells from recipes handed down from generations might be flooding our kitchens, if we are lucky.

Bill Owens, We’re really happy. Our kids are healthy, we eat good food, and we have a really nice home., 1971, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, Lay Family Acquisition Fund, 2005.103.2, © Bill Owens

Our homes are microcosms of ourselves. They are our habits embodied. They are visualizations of our personalities. They can make us feel safe, but they can also scare us. The storms in the middle of the night might cause strange sounds and shadows to appear. The house can take on a life of its own. But it’s ultimately a shelter, and a home is a privilege not everyone has.

Francisco Moreno, Chapel, 2016-18, pencil, vine charcoal pencil, and acrylic on an all-encompassing structure, Dallas Museum of Art, TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art Fund, the Charron and Peter Denker Contemporary Texas Art Fund, Elisabeth Karpidas, Charles Dee Mitchell, Tammy Cotton Hartnett, Travis Vandergriff, Joyce Goss, Harper and Jim Kennington, and Karen and John Reoch, 2019.58. Photo by Wade Griffith, courtesy of the artist and Erin Cluley Gallery.

A house is also a boundary between ourselves and the world around us. We might see neighbors pass by our windows for the first time. We might peer into brand new rooms, far away, via technological devices, now that our schools and businesses are being conducted from home.

The exhibition For a Dreamer of Houses was organized before we as curators had any idea how much time we would all be spending in our own homes. Indeed, currently you can see the show via the comfort of your pajamas in 3-D on the web. But it was born from ideas circulated in philosophy, psychology, and sociology in the last hundred years. Hilde Nelson, Chloë Courtney, and I developed the concept for the show over the past year, inspired by recent acquisitions of immersive installations that brought to the fore just how wonderful the home is. Not just as a well-known and -loved domestic space, but as a place of fantasy.

Alex Da Corte, Rubber Pencil Devil, 2018, glass, aluminum, vinyl, velvet, neon, Plexiglas, folding chairs, monitors, high-res digital video, color, and sound, Dallas Museum of Art, TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art Fund, 2019.59. Photo by Tom Little. Courtesy of the artist and Karma, New York.

We noticed that artists’ depictions of the home were reflecting our increasingly globalized world, re-creating a childhood house that could fit inside a suitcase. Or sociopolitical issues, like state-sponsored violence, imagining how furniture could reflect invented futures that were nurturing instead of traumatizing. Then, a global pandemic arose, and we were startled to realize how works in the show, chosen months ago, seemed to presage a strange new reality, with quarantining procedures, new emphasis on hygiene, and the fear of illness striking our loved ones.

Misty Keasler, Green Room (Quarenteen) Leagnul di Copii, Tigru Mures, Romania, 2004, C-print on Kodak Supra Endura, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Burt and Missy Finger, 2006.33. Courtesy Misty Keasler and The Public Trust Gallery.

But in spite of these fears, readers, we saw a resiliency in the worlds depicted by these artists. We still see a bright future, where we can take the lessons learned in the imaginative worlds of art, and apply them to a reality where we are all in this together, helping build a more equitable and safer future. And so we look to art, just like to the home, to visualize our shared humanity. And we have lots more time to look, and reflect on what we are seeing, at home.

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

Get to Know an Artist: Helen Brooks, “Profile”

Helen Brooks, Profile, about 1935, charcoal, Dallas Art League Purchase Prize, Seventh Annual Dallas Allied Arts Exhibition, 1935.13

Eighty-five years ago, on March 24, 1935, the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts opened its seventh annual Dallas Allied Arts Exhibition. That same day, an illustrated spread in the Dallas Morning News announced the show’s 12 first-prize winners, all but two of which are now in the DMA’s collection. Helen Brooks’s Profile, the only self-portrait of the bunch, appears at bottom center, adding a touch of humanity to a roster of mostly landscapes and still lifes. Reviewing Dallas’s 1934-1935 art season for the Dallas Morning News a few months later, artist, critic, and future Museum Director Jerry Bywaters called Brooks’s work “one of the best drawings of the season.”

Clip from Dallas Morning News, “The Prize Winners,” March 24, 1935; clip from Dallas Morning News, January 5, 1936

When a show of self-portraits by 27 local artists opened at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts in January 1936, Bywaters again had nothing but praise for Brooks’s contribution, declaring in the News, “It is hard to imagine a more thoroughly convincing likeness or better drawing than the small work by Helen Brooks.” One can imagine Brooks appreciating Bywaters’ complimentary words; however, she may have raised an eyebrow at an earlier section of the 1936 article, where Bywaters applauded what he saw as the exhibition artists’ lack of vanity: “In most cases,” he wrote, the self-portraits on display “attempt to make a good rendering of a person who may be considered detachedly as a personality or a lemon [something substandard, disappointing].” Ouch, Jerry.  
 
Bywaters’ mixed messaging aside, Profile and the later, three-quarters-view portrait reveal Brooks to be both a talented artist and a woman with a keen sense of style. She skillfully captures distinctive facial features like her sharp cheekbones; bow-shaped, downturned lips; and receding chin. Her glossy black bob with short, blunt bangs and finger waves, as well as her thinly plucked, arched brows, wouldn’t look out of place on a 1920s movie starlet—a photograph that accompanied news of Brooks’s recent wedding in October 1936 could practically double as a Golden Age Hollywood headshot. #HaircutGoals 

Clip from Dallas Morning News, “Back from Wedding Trip,” October 18, 1936

Melinda Narro is the McDermott Graduate Intern for American Art at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Preserving 100-Year-Old Plastic: Naum Gabo’s “Constructed Head No. 2”

The plastic sculpture is deteriorating, so slowly you can’t tell, but actively and unavoidably. For two years now, Elena Torok, Assistant Objects Conservator at the DMA, has been researching the repair history and material composition of Constructed Head No. 2 by Naum Gabo (1890–1977), in preparation for a conservation treatment this past spring. The sculpture is now free to see in the European Art Galleries.

Naum Gabo, Constructed Head No. 2, 1923–24, based on an original design of 1916, Ivory Rhodoid, Dallas Museum of Art, Edward S. Marcus Memorial Fund, 1981.35, © Nina Williams, England

Naum Gabo was a Russian avant-garde artist who worked with some of the some earliest forms of plastic in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. Plastic was just becoming commercially available, and Constructivists like Gabo were interested in using new materials to merge art and daily life.

Over his lifetime, Gabo made seven versions of Constructed Head No. 2. They are all similar in design—a geometric bust of a woman made of many combined pieces—but they vary in size and medium. The earliest version was made from painted galvanized iron in 1916, and the latest, in the Nasher Sculpture Center’s collection, was made from stainless steel in 1975. The version in the DMA’s collection, dated 1923–1924, is made from Ivory Rhodoid (a trade name for an early cellulose ester). It is the only version Gabo made in plastic.

Plastic artworks are tricky for museums to preserve. There are many types of plastics, and the materials, still relatively new to the history of art, don’t all age well. Depending on type, they may start to bend, change color, or even break down entirely. Gabo’s early plastic works are known for their sensitivity. A sculpture acquired by the Philadelphia Museum of Art notoriously degraded to the point of being unable to be shown again.

Assistant Objects Conservator Elena Torok with Naum Gabo’s Constructed Head No. 2.

How has the DMA’s sculpture escaped that fate? Torok’s research indicates it has something to do with the color. More specifically, she has identified white pigments in Constructed Head No. 2 that appear to slow the deterioration of this particular plastic. Although the sculpture has discolored slightly and the left shoulder has started to bend and deform, it is still in great condition, especially compared to many other plastic works Gabo made during the same time period.

By 2017 what had not aged so well were materials used in older repairs. Constructed Head No. 2 was repaired at least three times before it was acquired by the DMA in 1981, and some of the glues used had started to yellow and darken (a common occurrence with certain adhesives as they age). This change was not only visually problematic, but also structurally worrisome; as glues discolor, their breakdown can eventually cause older repairs to lose their strength. As a result, this important work in the Museum’s collection has not been displayed in recent years.

Torok treats Naum Gabo’s Constructed Head No. 2.

Torok thoroughly researched the sculpture’s repair history before determining a conservation treatment plan. Earlier this year, she carefully removed the old, discolored adhesive and replaced it with new adhesive that is long-lasting and, most importantly, reversible, meaning it can be removed and replaced if necessary in the future. In August the sculpture went back on display for the first time in five years.

Constructed Head No. 2 is almost 100 years old now. The sculpture is too fragile to leave the DMA, it can’t be displayed too long due to light sensitivities, and it has to be shown in a special perforated case to allow for air exchange. As it slowly breaks down, the plastic releases distinct-smelling chemicals that can actually speed the aging of the sculpture if allowed to remain enclosed in close contact with it over time. Museums continue to acquire works made with plastic, and conservators continue to research the material and fight science with science in order to keep works on view (and intact) as long as possible.

Lillian Michel is the Marketing and Communications Coordinator at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Hooray for 100k!

This past weekend, the Dallas Museum of Art officially reached 100,000 followers on Instagram! Since the dawn of our Instagram presence back in April 2013, it has been our pleasure to share with you glimpses into the day-to-day at the DMA: behind-the-scenes peeks, magnificent artworks from our collection, live (and lively) event and program coverage, insights into our exhibitions, and artful just-for-fun content. We are grateful to be able to extend the DMA beyond our walls and into the palms (or desktops) of followers from far and wide, and we thank each and every one of you for staying connected with us.

To celebrate this momentous occasion, here’s a look back at some of our most popular and memorable Instagram posts from over the years:

This spotlight on Lynn Lennon’s 1984 photograph of the beach party at Dallas City Hall is our most-liked Instagram post to date.
Post from June 21, 2019
Installing The Two Fridas (Las dos Fridas) for the DMA’s landmark exhibition México 1900–1950: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco, and the Avant-Garde.
Post from March 9, 2017
When technology, science, and art come together.
Post from October 26, 2016
A fantastic first look at the iconic exhibition Yayoi Kusama: All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins.
Post from September 22, 2017
Remember that time we did a bit of off-roading in the galleries?
Post from August 7, 2018
When #NationalNappingDay and Ramón Casas’s Tired were all too relatable . . . 
Post from March 12, 2018
Celebrating LGBTQ+ pride by putting our best foot forward at the annual Pride Late Night.
Post from June 21, 2019
Life imitating art.
Post from December 13, 2017
One for the archives: our first-ever exhibition installation post from our earliest days on Instagram. This one was for the 2013 exhibition The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece: Masterworks from the British Museum.
Post from April 19, 2013
We loved seeing visitors dress for Dior. This gorgeous hand-painted dress was quite the showstopper!
Post from July 1, 2019

Here’s to many more years of sharing all of the Museum’s artful happenings with you on Instagram. If you haven’t done so already, stay up-to-date with us by following @DallasMuseumArt!

Hayley Caldwell is the Copy and Content Marketing Writer at the DMA.


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