Posts Tagged 'Art'

Material Girls (and a Guy)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Katie Cooke is Manager of Adult Programs at the DMA.

An Enduring Legacy

DMA staff celebrated a true Dallas icon on Monday: Margaret Milam McDermott. Not only did she support the DMA throughout her life, but upon her recent passing, her renowned collection of Impressionist and modern art was given to The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund to benefit the Museum. These works will be on view in the special exhibition An Enduring Legacy: The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Collection of Impressionist and Modern Art. Though in true Margaret McDermott fashion, she added a special stipulation: prior to the public opening, DMA staff would be given a special time to enjoy her pictures—along with an abundant breakfast buffet, of course. That was just the type of person she was.

As her memorials attest, she touched many lives here in Dallas, not least of which included Museum staff. Russell Sublette, Senior Preparator, fondly recalls countless lunches in her Dallas home, where she would entertain guests from all walks of life. During one memorable meal in 2009, Mrs. McDermott discussed an upcoming trip to Gettysburg, a site she had not yet been able to visit. Surprised that her travels had not taken her there, Russell mentioned that he knew the Gettysburg Address. Mrs. McDermott asked him to recite it, and by the end, had tears streaming down her face. They shared a love of the written and spoken word, so Russell was always happy to repay her deep kindness with the gift of words. “Margaret built a nest in the clouds and she allowed us to visit. That was a great privilege,” he says.

Russell Sublette views his favorite artwork from the McDermott Collection: Poplars, Pink Effect by Claude Monet.

Madeleine Fitzgerald, Education Coordinator for Audience Relations and former McDermott Intern, looks back on her lunch with Mrs. McDermott with a smile as well: “She welcomed all the interns into her home and treated each one of us as if we were her own family, sharing stories of her life and experiences that I will always treasure.”

“Margaret was generous with a lot of zeros, generous with a few zeros, but most of all, generous with her spirit,” says Martha MacLeod, Senior Curatorial Administrator for the Curatorial Department. Her boundless generosity will truly be her lasting legacy—at the Museum and across Dallas.

An Enduring Legacy: The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Collection of Impressionist and Modern Art will be free for the public to enjoy from June 14, 2018, through February 17, 2019.

Sarah Coffey is the Education Coordinator for Internships and a former McDermott Intern at the DMA.

Art as Spectacle

With all of the exciting openings and events currently taking place at the Museum, it’s interesting to pause and take a look back at installations from our past—especially this one highly ambitious execution that included a lagoon!

David McCullough, Baggie Mantra Sanctorum March, June 12, 1971

On Saturday, June 12, 1971, artist David McCullough executed a performance sculpture around and in the Fair Park Lagoon.

McCullough conceived of the project as a one-act play to be “performed” by himself and his assistants. Musicians were also on-site improvising music in reaction to the performance.

David McCullough, Baggie Mantra Sanctorum March, June 12, 1971

The sculpture consisted of large plastic bags filled with clear or colored water connected by a nylon cord. The performance consisted of a procession of the baggies from the far side of the lagoon, across the water, and along the bank, ending at the Museum steps. The sculpture remained on view for about a week after the performance.

David McCullough, Baggie Mantra Sanctorum March, June 12, 1971

David McCullough, Baggie Mantra Sanctorum March, June 12, 1971

More information about the work can be found in the press release.

Hillary Bober is the Archivist at the Dallas Museum of Art. 

Open Office: Exhibition Planning

It has been said that the environment we create is a reflection of our state of mind. For Skye Olson, Exhibition Designer at the DMA, this sentiment could not be more true. Her office is crisp and organized with pops of color peeking through exhibition models and paper diagrams. She is in the business of aesthetics, choosing paint, finishes, and elements that will showcase art in the best possible light. The clean lines of her office reflect the detailed approach she takes in designing exhibition spaces. Sneak a peek inside Skye’s Museum office:

skye

The Emperor’s New Groove: Llama Iconography and the Inca Empire

In his 1551 chronicle The Discovery and Conquest of Peru, Pedro de Cieza de Leon recalled the former glory of the great Inca temple known as the Qorikancha:

There is a garden in which the earth was of pieces of fine gold, and it was sown with corn of gold, stalks as well as leaves and ears . . . more than twenty golden sheep with their lambs, and shepherds, who guarded them, their staffs and slings, were made of this metal.

South American camelids at the archaeological site of Tiahuanaco, Bolivia

South American camelids at the archaeological site of Tiahuanaco, Bolivia. image source commons.wikimedia.org : http://bit.ly/2ov0wXl

What Cieza de Leon did not realize is that these “golden sheep” were not sheep at all (sheep were introduced to South America through Spanish imperialism), but rather the most important animal within the Inca Empire: the llama.

Domesticated 6,000 to 7,000 years ago in the dry puna grasslands of Argentina, Chile, and southern Peru, llamas provided an important source of meat and of fiber used for manufacturing rope and bags in several early Andean communities. Andean artisans shaped and repurposed llama bones as tools and weaving supplies, while llama dung provided a source of fuel to heat homes. Llamas also allowed disparate cultures to interact and create trading networks by serving as the primary beasts of burden within the Andes region. Occupying the modern nations of Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, and Colombia, the Inca Empire (1438-1532) used llamas and llama imagery to unite their territory through trade and shared socially significant iconography.

Pair of llama figures

Pair of llama figures, Peru, north coast, Inca (Inka), 1400–1550, shell, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., 1972.23.5.1-2.McD

Map of Inca Empire

Our collection of Inca visual arts features several examples of llamas. These reddish-orange llamas were originally found in a Late Horizon (1400-1532) ceremonial cache on the southern coast of modern-day Peru with a variety of northern coast Chimú and southern coast Ica style feather and metalwork objects. Containing a mixture of elite items related to Chimú and Inca cultures, this bundle represents the fusion of cultures through Inca imperial expansion and trade.

Carved from the shell of a thorny oyster, or Spondylus, a mollusk imported from the tropical marine waters off Ecuador, these llama figures likely possessed multiple layers of social significance among the populations who created them. Visually, they represent the beasts of burden that enabled the extensive trade networks necessary to transport raw materials from locations that were several hundred miles away. As the inclusion of carved Spondylus shell figures in ceremonial bundles was specifically an Inca practice, these llamas may also represent South Coast groups incorporating certain aspects of Inca identity or religion into their own system of belief.

Camelid-form vessel

Camelid-form vessel, Peru, Inca (Inka), 1400–1540, stone, Dallas Museum of Art, collection of Andrew D. Christensen, gift of J. D. Christensen, 1983.632

Carved from a green and black stone, this ceremonial llama effigy, or illa, was used to promote agricultural and pastoral fertility in Inca communities. Inca religious leaders likely inserted a mixture of llama fat, blood, and other ceremonial objects into the hole located at the top of this vessel during various fertility rituals throughout the year. Several Inca-related groups concluded these fertility rituals by placing the illa in a pasture. Modern-day highland communities in the Andes continue to use illa during their fertility rituals to ensure the prosperity of their camelid herds.

Continue reading ‘The Emperor’s New Groove: Llama Iconography and the Inca Empire’

Shaken AND Stirred

Whether you like your adult beverage shaken or stirred, we think you’ll enjoy this. A celebration of over 100 years of cocktail ware design, Shaken, Stirred, Styled: The Art of the Cocktail opens at the Dallas Museum of Art this Friday, November 18, during the DMA’s Late Night event. Organized chronologically and divided into sections that correspond to major shifts in the consumption of cocktails, the exhibition features nearly 60 works drawn primarily from the Museum’s collection. It explores the relationships between political, social, and economic currents, developments in technology, quotidian practices of consumption, and design styles. An interactive display prompts visitors to explore the history of spirits and cocktails alongside that of the vessels in which they were prepared and served. Below are a few highlights paired with historically accurate cocktails included in the exhibition’s interactive display. Cheers!

skyscraper-cocktail-shaker_2008-48-1-12

“Skyscraper” cocktail shaker, cups, and tray, William Waldo Dodge, designer, 1928–31, silver, Dallas Museum of Art, The Patsy Lacy Griffith Collection, gift of Patsy Lacy Griffith by exchange, 2008.48.1–12

It would not be surprising if this monumental skyscraper-inspired cocktail shaker once held the ingredients of the Sidecar, one of the most popular cocktails during Prohibition.

The origin of the Sidecar—a shaken mixture of cognac, orange liqueur, and lemon juice, served in a sugar-rimmed cocktail glass—is debated, but commonly believed to be Paris or London at the conclusion of World War I (1914–18). Whatever its origin, the Sidecar quickly crossed the Atlantic and conquered the speakeasies in the newly “dry” United States.

penguin-cocktail-shaker_2002-29-8-a-b

Penguin cocktail shaker, Emile A. Schuelke, designer, Napier Company, manufacturer, Meriden, Connecticut, 1936, gilded silverplate, Dallas Museum of Art, The Jewel Stern American Silver Collection, gift of Jewel Stern, 2002.29.8.a–b

The owner of this gold-accented, silver-plated Penguin cocktail shaker, touted by its manufacturer as the “master of ceremonies at successful parties,” may have utilized it to shake Daiquiris, which peaked in popularity in the 1930s.

Despite possible antecedents native to Cuba, the Daiquiri as it is known today—a shaken mixture of white rum, lime juice, and simple syrup—was first recorded by American mining engineer Jennings Cox in 1902. The Daiquiri shares its moniker with the Taíno (indigenous peoples of the Caribbean) name for a beach near Santiago de Cuba.

circa-70-pitcher_2002-29-68-a-b

Circa ’70 pitcher-mixer with mixer spoon, Gorham Manufacturing Company, Providence, Rhode Island, designed 1960, silver and ebony, Dallas Museum of Art, The Jewel Stern American Silver Collection, Decorative Arts Fund, 2002.29.68.a–b)

This futuristic Circa ’70 beverage mixer was likely used to stir dry gin Martinis in the 1960s.

Like the Manhattan, the Martini is a spirit-based and vermouth and bitters-laced cocktail that originated in the 19th century. It appeared in print in Jerry Thomas’s How to Mix Drinks, published in 1862. While 19th-century recipes recommend sweet vermouth, by the 1950s dry vermouth was mixed with dry gin and orange bitters and then poured into a classic cocktail glass.

Samantha Robinson is the Interim Assistant Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the DMA.

 

A Fairly Good Time

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A view of the Esplanade at Fair Park from Jessica Thompson, Manager of Teen Programs.

Last Tuesday was our sixth annual Education Fair Day, a chance to escape the chill of the Museum for some deep-fried fun in the sun at the State Fair of Texas. For some, like Jessica Thompson, going to the Fair is a time-honored tradition. Jessica’s paid a visit to Big Tex nearly every year of her life. For others, like our McDermott Interns, it was a super-sized introduction to a slice of Texas history and culture.

Emily Wiskera and I tackled the trip together. While we chowed down on Fletcher’s corny dogs (a must!), admired the blue ribbons in the creative arts building, and searched for our favorite haunted house ride, I started wondering about what connections could be made between the fair and the DMA. A set of photographs recently installed in the Center for Creative Connections certainly provides some fair feels, but what about elsewhere in the Museum?

State and World’s Fairs

The above pair of posters was an easy connection to make. On the left, we have the 2016 State Fair of Texas poster; on the right, the DMA’s poster from the 1968 World’s Fair in San Antonio. Each was designed around a unique concept. Hemisfair, San Antonio illustrates the overarching idea of people coming from all over the globe for the World’s Fair. The artist, Robert Indiana, used circles with arrows drawn in towards a star in the south of Texas to convey this message. The star, besides featuring prominently on the state flag of Texas, acts a giant X-marks-the-spot, where the Hemisfair and San Antonio are the treasure.

Immediately recognizable in the State Fair of Texas poster is our celebrity cowboy, Big Tex, surrounded by fields, livestock, and farming equipment. The design is graphic, straight forward, and conveniently explained by a page from the State Fair of Texas website:

Originally established as a livestock exposition back in 1886, it is without question that the Fair has deep roots in agriculture. In honor of its history, the Fair constantly strives to promote agricultural education and aims to further support this initiative through its 2016 event, themed “Celebrating Texas Agriculture.”

Though on different scales, state fairs and world’s fairs both bring people together for a variety of cultural experiences. Here’s how the State Fair of Texas compares to world’s fairs:

  • The State Fair of Texas, at 24 days per season, is the longest running state fair in the United States. A World’s Fair can last up to six months–the 1968 Hemisfair in San Antonio did!
  • An estimated 1.5 million – 3 million people attend the State Fair of Texas each year. For reference, the population of Dallas is 1.3 million people, and Texas’ population is 27.47 million people. The 1968 Hemisfair brought in 6.4 million people from all over the world, and the recent 2015 Expo (or World’s Fair) in Milan had 20 million visitors.
  • This year marks the 130th anniversary of the State Fair of Texas in Dallas. In contrast, world’s fairs are held in a new city and country every year.

Creative Arts

baltimore

Baltimore, Maryland, “Album” quilt, c. 1861, Martha E. Keech, Dallas Museum of Art, anonymous centennial gift

The Baltimore album quilt above, despite being 155 years old, isn’t too different from a quilt you might find on a visit to the creative arts building. This kind of quilt, with its trademark white background and squares (or blocks) with floral designs in red and green, first became popular in… you guessed it: Baltimore! The style remains popular today. This particular album quilt was made by hand by one woman, Martha E. Keech. Sometimes groups of women would join forces to make one of these quilts and each would sew one block and sign their name, hence: an album quilt.

The more than 25 categories for quilts at the State Fair this year include sections for ones made by individuals, pairs, and groups, both by hand and by machine. Overall, there are over 1,100 categories in the creative arts competitions! Many people are familiar with submissions like pies, quilts, and collectibles, but did you know the Fair also has LEGO assembly categories for kids and adults, as well as a “Glue a Shoe” contest? This year’s Glue a Shoe contest features such entries as “Grumpy Flat,” after everyone’s favorite internet cat, and “Hamilton: An American Shoesical.”

Fantastic Foods

No Fair day is complete without sampling some of the sensational snacks! Here are some numbers from Eater Dallas on a fair-goer favorite, Fletcher’s corny dogs:

  • On average, 630,000 corny dogs are sold each 24-day State Fair of Texas run.
  • Fletcher’s is in its 74th year of selling corny dogs at the Fair.
  • To satisfy corndog purists, 1,500 gallons of mustard are needed each year.
  • To satisfy heathens like myself (see selfie above), only 800 gallons of ketchup are required.

Yes, corn (sometimes called maize) is a key ingredient in the batter used for corny dogs, but it’s more than a family resemblance that ties together this State Fair staple and Otis Dozier’s Maize and Windmill. Dozier, a native Texan, was a member of a circle of artists called the Dallas Nine. He regularly submitted works of art to the State Fair of Texas’s creative arts competitions – and he often won. According to a DMA docent, Maize and Windmill is one such blue ribbon winner!

A bonus connection: Dozier’s upbringing on a Mesquite farm instilled in him a lifelong love of agriculture which can be found in his many paintings of farms, fields, flora, and fauna. This ties in pretty neatly with this year’s Celebrating Texas Agriculture theme, don’t you think?

The Fair closes this Sunday, October 23, but these three works of art will still be here to greet you on your next visit, up on Level 4. What other fairly relevant connections can you find? You know that something has to relate to the butter sculpture!

Jennifer Sheppard
Teaching Specialist


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