Posts Tagged 'artworks'

DMA Online Collection: An Inside Look (Part II)

Last week two of our Digital Collections Content Coordinators (D3Cs) reflected on the highlights and insights they’ve gathered throughout their time diligently compiling information for over 5,000 objects in our online collection. Today, the other half of this team recounts the dots they’ve connected and some of their favorite hidden gems they’ve uncovered on the job.

Chloë Courtney, Contemporary Art, Latin American Art, and Arts of Africa, 2018-present
chloe

Connecting the Dots:
My favorite aspect of the online collection is the way it highlights dynamic connections between objects from different areas of the Museum’s holdings. For example, Renée Stout’s sculpture Fetish #1 draws upon her study of African sculpture. Links to contextual essays and related objects in both the contemporary and African collections explain how the protective powers of minkisi influenced Stout’s choice of materials.

1989.128Renee Stout, Fetish #1, 1987, monkey hair, nails, beads, cowrie shells, and coins, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Roslyn and Brooks Fitch, Gary Houston, Pamela Ice, Sharon and Lazette Jackson, Maureen McKenna, Aaronetta and Joseph Pierce, Matilda and Hugh Robinson, and Rosalyn Story in honor of Virginia Wardlaw, 1989.128, © Renee Stout, Washington, D.C.

The Spanish Colonial screen also relies on contextual information from multiple curatorial departments. This highly ornamented screen allows us to see how Japanese byobu, or painted screens, inspired Spanish Colonial adaptations and thus visually represent the centuries of trade between Asia, the Spanish Philippines, Mexico, South America, and Europe.

1993.74.A-BScreen, Mexico, Mexico City, c. 1740–60, oil on canvas, pine, and gilding, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Stanley and Linda Marcus Foundation, 1993.74.a-b

Hidden Gems:
While the number of objects displayed in the galleries is limited by factors including available space, the online collection enables visitors to experience art rarely on view in the building. One of my favorite contextual essays focuses on time-based media. Not only does the essay provide a survey of this field and the DMA’s impressive holdings, but it also draws attention to works that typically reside in storage.

Jennie Russell, American Art, European Art, and Teaching Ideas, 2016-2018

jennie
Hidden Gems:
Due to conservation restrictions, works on paper are generally permitted to be on view for only four to six months and then require long resting periods in storage. These works, though they get little exposure in the galleries, can be studied in the online collection through contextual essays and high-resolution photography.

Connecting the Dots:
My favorite part of the job is exploring the connections between visual art and the arts as a whole (music, theater, literature, etc.). Working on the mid-20th-century print Wreck of the Old 97 by John McCrady let me explore pop culture connections to art. Several artists, including Johnny Cash, had previously recorded the story of the wreck as a ballad. I came across interesting bits of trivia including the origin story of a local band’s name.

wreck of the old 97John McCrady, Wreck of the Old 97, date unknown, lithograph, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase, 1948.6

A fan of both literature and Surrealism, I knew I would enjoy working on Salvador Dalí’s 1969 Alice in Wonderland illustrations (examples include A Mad Tea Party, The Queen’s Croquet Ground, and A Caucus Race and a Long Tale). Dalí’s lithographs capture the spirit of Lewis Carroll’s tale with the painter’s usual wit and whimsy. Taking advantage of web resources let me provide visitors with links to other depictions of Carroll’s story as well as clips from cinematic adaptations.

Find your own favorites by browsing through our online collection, the content of which wouldn’t be possible without the research and hard work of our D3C team!

DMA Online Collection: An Inside Look (Part I)

As the Dallas Museum of Art’s Digital Collections project comes to a close at the end of December, we’re taking a look back at the important work the Digital Collections Content Coordinators (D3Cs) have undertaken over the past three years, including writing, researching, gathering, compiling, and condensing information for over 5,000 individual objects. Their end result is an online collection that takes advantage of its digital format. Unlike the physical limitations of the DMA galleries, the online collection promotes three unique learning opportunities:

  1. Connecting the dots—linking objects and narratives across collections or disciplines.
  2. Deep dives—providing detailed information about one or more objects in texts that far exceed typical wall labels.
  3. Hidden gems—highlighting works that are rarely on view or risk being overlooked in the galleries.

We’ve asked each D3C to recount some of the insights she accumulated on the job.

Jennifer Bartsch-Allen, Decorative Arts and Design, 2016-2018

jennifer allen
Hidden gem:
Although I’ve researched a variety of works across the Decorative Arts and Design Collection, the bulk of my last two years was focused on the Wendy and Emery Reves Collection. This enabled me to draw attention to furniture, including a Baroque cabinet by Pierre Gole. In the gallery, the cabinet remains closed and distant. Online, however, the high-res photos show the drawers in multiple positions and give close-ups of signatures and surfaces. Supplemental essays include biographies of the collectors and definitions of some of the specialized terms.

baroque cabinetCabinet on stand, Pierre Gole, Paris (?), France, 1660–80, wood, ivory, tortoiseshell, shell, and gilt bronze, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, 1985.R.573.a-c

Deep dives:
One of my favorite eras is 20th-century design, so I thoroughly enjoyed exploring works featured in the Museum’s South Gallery. At first glance, Peter Muller-Munk’s relatively modest Normandie shape pitcher appears straightforward and functional. However, it becomes much more impressive and influential after reading about its context in American streamlined design.

pitcherNormandie shape pitcher, Peter Muller-Munk, Rome, New York, 1935, chrome-plated brass, Dallas Museum of Art, 20th Century Design Fund, 1996.27

Similarly, the historical references in René Jules Lalique’s glass vases become easier to identify once you recognize the popularity of neoclassical imagery at the time. Several, including the Denaides vase, rely on these mythological motifs while simultaneously embodying the early 20th century’s Art Deco movement.

vaseDanaides vase, René Jules Lalique, Lalique et Cie, Cristallerie, Wingen-sur-Moder, France, c. 1926, molded glass, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Steinberg, 2004.48.5

Heather Bowling, Classical Art, Contemporary Art, and Decorative Arts and Design, 2016-2018

heather

Deep dives:
Throughout the course of this project, I have enjoyed learning more about contemporary art and decorative arts and design, but it was fun to return to my classical roots and do some original research on a 2nd century CE portrait bust. The DMA’s Roman portrait head of a young woman joins an array of Roman portraits that reflect ideas about gender roles in the ancient world. Spoiler alert: portraits of modest, fertile, upper-class women were created largely to boost the public stature of the men in their lives. Additionally, elaborate hairstyles of wealthy Roman women imitated favored empresses and indicated the wearer’s high status, not unlike today’s celebrities.

roman headPortrait head of a young woman, Roman, 2nd century CE, marble,
Dallas Museum of Art, gift of David T. Owsley via the Alvin and Lucy Owsley Foundation, 2016.36

Accessioned just three years after its creation, Cathedral is the cornerstone of contemporary art at the DMA and one of the first Pollock drip paintings to enter any museum collection in the world. Because this work is so prolific, I had to wade through a substantial amount of scholarship to create a concise description that answers the question you may be asking yourself: why is throwing paint on a canvas a big deal?

paint canvasJackson Pollock, Cathedral, 1947, enamel and aluminum paint on canvas,
Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Bernard J. Reis, 1950.87, © Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Hidden gems:
In the galleries it would be easy to pass by this minuscule scarab beetle, but online you can zoom in and inspect each side. Although initially there was no information available about the inscription on its underside, extensive research of Egyptian amulets revealed exactly how it afforded the deceased special protection in the journey to the afterlife.

scarabScarab, Egyptian, 1785–1550 BCE, faience, Dallas Museum of Art, given in memory of Jerry L. Abramson by his estate, 2009.25.4

Connecting the dots:
Alongside my work in the Contemporary and Classical Art departments, researching modern design and postmodern design illuminated the intersection of ancient and contemporary objects, and gave me a new appreciation for how an encyclopedic museum collection can demonstrate the connections between different places and times.

Stay tuned for Part II, coming next week. Meet the other half of our D3C team and discover more insights into our collection!

When the Painting Meets the Frame

The centerpiece of Ida O’Keeffe: Escaping Georgia’s Shadow is her Highland Lighthouse series. Ida Ten Eyck O’Keeffe painted seven variations of the lighthouse in the early 1930s, using mostly related color palettes and experimenting with dynamic symmetry. The first, a realistic representation, is now lost, but the following six lighthouses she painted are all reunited here at the DMA in one room.

Five of the paintings have a “clam shell” frame. The sides of a clam shell frame slope inward toward the painting. Each side is half of an arch that peaks at the inner edge where the frame meets the canvas. These frames were all made by painter and frame maker George F. Of, who worked closely with Alfred Stieglitz’s 291 gallery. Thus, it is through her relationship with her sister Georgia and her brother-in-law Alfred Stieglitz that Ida came to know Of during the early years of her career.

Ida’s paintings are not the only example of close working relationships between artists and frame makers on view at the DMA. Artists often worked closely with particular frame makers and some were known to prefer certain styles of frames.

PG_2016_11_21_McD-framed_o4

Maurice Prendergast, Merry-Go-Round, c. 1902-06, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc.

On view in An Enduring Legacy, Maurice Prendergast’s painting Merry-Go-Round is in a frame that was probably not made by his brother Charles. Many other artists of his time mechanically reproduced patterns for their frames, but Charles designed and hand carved his frames. He considered himself an artist too. If he made a frame for Merry-Go-Round, it was long gone when it entered the McDermott’s collection. Margaret McDermott chose this frame to accentuate the style of the painting.

prendergast detail

The frame has both an inner and outer edge of roughly carved wood in ropelike patterns. Between these layers is an expanse of unvarnished wood with groups of scratches perpendicular to the painting’s edges. The unfinished quality of the wood frame complements the blank canvas that is visible throughout the painting where colors meet.

George Bellows’s portrait of his wife, Emma in a Purple Dress, is in a “Bellows frame.” Bellows favored frames by the New York frame maker M. Grieve Company. This particular water-gilded gold frame has three thin, curved ridges descending toward the painting within a squared outer frame. Its back is stamped with “Grieves Co.” The gilded, textured surface of the frame emphasizes the shining fabric of the sitter’s dress.

Reviews of Ida O’Keeffe’s New York shows sometimes mention her tendency to decorate her own frames, though few of them survive today. Ida most likely didn’t make the frame for Star Gazing in Texas, but she did decorate its upper molding with star-shaped foil stickers and five-point stars cut from tin.

These stars on the frame make it part of the composition. The title, Star Gazing in Texas, reinforces the relationship between painting and frame. During Ida’s lifetime, the painting was exhibited under several other titles—Dreaming in Moonlight; Spring Lethargy, Texas; and, possibly, Texas Hillbillies. The DMA’s Pauline Gill Sullivan Curator of American Art, Sue Canterbury, chose the title Star Gazing in Texas, which Ida used in an inventory of her paintings, because it captured the interconnectivity of the painting to its frame. The star-gazing woman looks outside her painted environment, making the frame part of her world as well as part of ours.

Rebecca Singerman is the McDermott Graduate Intern for American Art at the DMA.

Artist Astrology: Taurus

This month’s astrological sign, Taurus (April 20 – May 21st), is typically defined as the most stubborn and obstinate of the signs. This trait can be both an asset and an obstacle. Many Taurus individuals are able to harness their obstinacy in order to pursue their personal objectives and goals, even if they are working against the odds. On the other side, however, this persistence can manifest itself as pride and they may neglect the good-intentioned advice of others. Taurus individuals are most successful when they are provided the opportunity to set their own destiny; they do not enjoy being managed and may consider external assertion stifling. Although they are focused on their goals, people born under the Taurus sign are also patient and practical about their decisions. They make wonderful life partners and friends because once they find someone they care about, they are loyal and faithful until the end. In fact, patience, perseverance, and honor are three of their traits most admired by others.

Today we are featuring one artist, J.M.W. Turner (April 23), whose personality and artworks perfectly epitomize the traits of a Taurus!

1985_97_FA

Joseph Mallord William TurnerApril 23

Trained at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, Turner followed the instruction of Sir Joshua Reynolds, first President of the Royal Academy, to “paint pendants to a number of masterpieces.” Turner, however, was not content with merely replicating the works of earlier masters; instead, he made it his personal mission to recreate and outdo past painters. In particular, Turner viewed landscape painter Claude Lorrain as his greatest competition. Throughout his career, he sought to surpass Lorrain by imbuing his works with superior light and atmospheric effects. In fact, in his will, Turner left two of his masterpieces to the National Gallery under the stipulation that they would hang next to a pair by Lorrain; thus presenting viewers the opportunity to witness his superior techniques. The four artworks still hang in Room 15 at the National Gallery today.

For more Taurus artists in the DMA collection, check out the works by Willem de Kooning (April 24), George Inness (May 1), Salvador Dali (May 11), Georges Braque (May 13), and Jasper Johns (May 19).

Tune in next month for a look at our gifted Gemini artists (May 22 – June 21)!

Artworks shown:

  • J.M.W. Turner, Bonneville, Savoy, 1903, 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.

Hayley Prihoda
McDermott Intern for Gallery and Community Teaching

Artist Astrology: Sagittarius

This month, we turn our attention to the adventurous, free-spirited Sagittarius! Sagittarius individuals, born November 23 – December 21, are known for their “larger than life” personalities. They view life as a challenge and embrace opportunities for personal growth and development. The ultimate goal for a Sagittarius is to discover the meaning of life, which results in a desire to make the most of every situation. At times, their ambition is equated with recklessness or inconsistency but, in reality, their pursuits are often thoughtful and purposeful. Sagittariuses have a contagious enthusiasm and passion for life and believe nothing is out of reach!

The DMA’s collection features a handful of splendid Sagittarius artists, including Winston Churchill (November 30), Georges Seurat (December 2), Gilbert Stuart (December 3), Stuart Davis (December 7), Helen Frankenthaler (December 12), Wassily Kandinsky (December 16), and Paul Klee (December 18).

1985_R_16

Winston Churchill – November 30

Sir Winston Churchill is not often known for his artistry but for his profound impact and contributions as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940-1945 and 1951-1955. His strength and pride guided the British public through the Battle of Britain in 1940 and his speech “We Shall Never Surrender” remains an emblem of British courage today. Yet, through his art, the softer, introspective side of this prominent figure is revealed. As referenced by his daughter Mary Soames in the book Sir Winston Churchill’s Life Through his Paintings, Churchill’s paintings demonstrate a profound sensitivity and keen interest in the therapeutic qualities of art. In fact, in his essay Painting as a Pastime, Churchill raises questions about the relationship between memory and the act of painting. Thus, in his art as in his political policies, Churchill reveals a Sagittarius’ interest in explaining and justifying the world around him.

1963_31

Wassily Kandinsky – December 16

Wassily Kandinsky traveled extensively between 1903 and 1908, visiting the Netherlands, Italy, Tunisia, France, and Germany. The painting above was created en plein air during his stay in Murnau, Germany, where he eventually settled from 1908 – 1914. His life in Murnau and nearby Munich marked a critical period in his artistic development, beginning his transition from realistic depictions to more abstract and representational forms. The artwork above is indicative of this slow shift as the street begins to dissolve into a field of thick brush-strokes and areas of blocked colors. Ultimately, Kandinsky sought to invest his paintings with spiritual imagery without using representational subjects. In this way, he was operating according to the Sagittarius desire to create a meaningful and purposeful life.

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Paul Klee – December 18

Paul Klee aspired to develop an artistic language that “synthesized the ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ worlds into a pictorial whole,” viewing artistic production as a spiritual experience of equal importance to the final product. As such, he was extremely interested in the art produced by tribal cultures, children, and the insane. His art reflects this curiosity and is intended to appear naïve and untutored. Because of his dedication to exploring art production as a spiritual and natural process, Klee is often recognized as a theoretician. He famously stated, “Art does not reproduce the visible but makes visible.”

Thank you for catching up on a few of our favorite DMA Sagittarius artists! Don’t forget to read next month’s blog for information about our caring Capricorns.

Artworks shown:

  • Winston Churchill, View of Menton, 1957, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection
  • Wassily Kandinsky, Murnau, Burggrabenstrasse 1, 1908, 1908, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase
  • Paul Klee, Around the Core (Um den Kern), 1935, Dallas Museum of Art, anonymous gift in appreciation for Dr. Dorothy Kosinski, The Barbara Thomas Lemmon Curator of European Art

Hayley Prihoda
McDermott Intern for Gallery and Community Teaching

Friday Photos: Art about Earth

Happy (almost) Earth Day! To celebrate the upcoming Earth Day on April 22nd, I’m highlighting some works in the DMA’s collection that give a special nod to our home planet.

  • Rufino Tamayo’s El Hombre (Man) was commissioned by the Dallas Art Association to celebrate the universality of the human condition. With legs resembling tree trunks rooted strongly in the ground, the figure suggests the inextricable tie between humans and Earth.

Rufino Tamayo, El Hombre (Man), 1953

  • The Yup’ik peoples of Alaska’s western coast and adjacent islands created this mask. They understand their relationship with their maritime environment, particularly its sea creatures, as collaborative and reciprocal. Masked dances at seasonal festivals honor the animals hunted during the previous year.

Mask with seal or sea otter spirit, late 19th century

  • Flower consists of hanging, geometric shapes that move and oscillate with the wind. Alexander Calder explicitly stated that this work not only represents the earth, but also “the miles of gas above it, volcanoes upon it, and the moon making circles around it.”

Alexander Calder, Flower, 1949

  • This figure’s arms are outstretched in the shape of a boat, which peoples of the western islands of Southeast Moluccas related to creation, the founding of family and society, women, and a cosmic womb. She represents the founder-mother, or a kind of “Mother Earth.”

Altar depicting the first female ancestor (luli), 19th century

  • Often using the Earth as his medium, Robert Smithson transports earth into the gallery with a long pile of sand separated by mirrors, contrasting the organic and the man-made.

Robert Smithson, Mirrors and Shelly Sand, 1969-1970

Check out the educator resources of the Earth Day Network for some inspiration for incorporating environmental issues into your teaching, or celebrate Earth at the two-day Earth Day Dallas festival.

How do you increase awareness about and appreciate the Earth in your classroom? (We would love to hear about it!)

Andrea V. Severin
Coordinator of Teaching Programs

Artworks shown:

  • Rufino Tamayo, El Hombre (Man), 1953, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association commission, Neiman-Marcus Company Exposition Funds
  • Mask with seal or sea otter spirit, late 19th century, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Elizabeth H. Penn
  • Alexander Calder, Flower, 1949, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Dallas Garden Club in honor of Mrs. Alex Camp
  • Altar depicting the first female ancestor (luli), 19th century, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc.
  • Robert Smithson, Mirrors and Shelly Sand, 1969-1970, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of an anonymous donor; the Vin and Caren Prothro Foundation; an anonymous donor in memory of Vin Prothro and in honor of his cherished grandchildren, Lillian Lee Clark and Annabel Caren Clark; The Eugene McDermott Foundation; Dr. and Mrs. Mark L. Lemmon; American Consolidated Media; Bear/Hunter; and donors to the C. Vincent Prothro Memorial Fund

Jacob Lawrence: The Life of Toussaint L'Ouverture

On December 6, Jacob Lawrence: The Life of Toussaint L’Ouverture opened at the DMA (on view through May 23, 2010).  This exhibition of fifteen silkscreen prints illustrates scenes from the life of Toussaint L’Ouverture, a man who played an important role in the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804).  Born a slave, Toussaint learned to read and write and worked his way up through the ranks to become commander in chief of the revolutionary army.   The prints in the exhibition chronicle not only Toussaint’s rise to power, but also the events that led to Haiti becoming the first free black republic in the Western Hemisphere.

Jacob Lawrence, General Toussaint L'Ouverture, 1987

Jacob Lawrence began creating this series of prints in 1986, but they were based on a series of paintings that he completed in 1938 when he was just 21 years old.  It’s fascinating to me that an artist living and working in the 20th century would be interested in a little-known leader of a revolution that happened in the early 19th century.  There is a great quote from Jacob Lawrence that explains why Toussaint was such an important figure to him:

 “I’ve always been interested in history, but they never taught Negro history in public schools…I don’t see how a history of the United States can be written honestly without including the Negro.  I didn’t do it just as a historical thing, but because I believe these things tie up with the Negro today.  We don’t have a physical slavery, but an economic slavery.  If these people, who were so much worse off than the people today, could conquer their slavery, we certainly can do the same thing.” (quoted in Jacob Lawrence: The Complete Prints, 1963-2000: a catalog raisonné, edited by Peter T. Nesbitt, p. 16.)

Jacob Lawrence, The Opener, 1997

We are offering a variety of programs for students and teachers focusing on this exhibition, including a Teacher Workshop on February 6, 2010.  We are also offering docent-guided tours of the exhibition; because it is a small focus exhibition, docents will be using three themes–narrative and biography, commemoration, and leaders–to make connections between the screen prints in the exhibition and works of art in our African and American galleries.  I hope that you’ll join us to explore The Life of Toussaint L’Ouverture!

Shannon Karol
Tour Coordinator


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