Posts Tagged 'Brooklyn Museum'

A Dallas Arts Patroness . . . Identified

This photo has been popular in Museum histories for a long time. It was used in the book Seventy-Five Years of Art in Dallas: The History of the Dallas Art Association and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts (1978) by Jerry Bywaters; the 90th Anniversary Timeline; and the 2003 Centennial history exhibition, and she has always been identified as a “Dallas arts patroness.”

The panel of the image from the 2003 exhibition currently hangs in the Archives. When curators come down, they always search to see if any of the paintings in the photo are part of the collection, though nothing is familiar. I have always thought that the paintings in the photo were from one of the Dallas Art Association’s (DAA) early annual exhibitions, but I had no idea which one. Then I came across a memo that identified the painting at her feet as an Albert Pinkham Ryder work that was to be part of the 2002 Gilded Age exhibition touring from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. I was thrilled with this clue because now I could search the digitized exhibition catalogues and figure out the exhibition to at least date the photo.

It turns out that the painting in the photo was not the one in the exhibition, but a different Ryder painting of a ship at sea. Using books on Ryder from the library, I was able to identify the work as Ryder’s painting The Waste of Waters is Their Field, now in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum.

Albert Pinkham Ryder (American, 1847-1917). The Waste of Waters is Their Field, early 1880s. Oil on panel, 11 5/16 x 12 in. (28.8 x 30.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, John B. Woodward Memorial Fund, 14.556 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 14.556_SL1.jpg)

With the new information, I could search for this painting in the digitized catalogues. I identified the exhibition as being from the Third Annual Exhibition: American Art from the Days of the Colonists to Now, held by the DAA at the Adolphus Hotel’s Palm Garden, November 16-30, 1922.

By using the exhibition checklist in the catalogue, with a bit of library and internet searching, I was able to definitively identify two of the other works in the photo, with educated guesses on two others. The oval painting is Mother and Child: A Modern Madonna by George de Forest Brush, also in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum.

George de Forest Brush (American, 1855-1941). Mother and Child: A Modern Madonna, 1919. Oil on canvas, 43 1/2 x 35 5/8 in. (110.5 x 90.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Collection Fund and by subscription, 19.93 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 19.93_transp3194.jpg)

The painting leaning on the settee below it is Arthur B. Davies’ Banquet to a Hero, identified from the article “Davies the Absolute” by F. Newlin Price in the June 1922 issue of International Studio.

F. Newlin Price, “Davies the Absolute,” International Studio LXXV, no. 301, June 1922, p. 213-19.

Now I had the exhibition and date, but I still had no idea who the “patroness” was. Time for a different tactic.

The exhibition was curated for the DAA by Robert MacBeth of the MacBeth Gallery, and being a good archivist, I went searching for records from the gallery in hopes of finding a new clue. I found the records at the Archives of American Art. Using the digitized scrapbooks from the MacBeth Gallery Records, I found a whole section of news clippings related to the Dallas exhibition in the 1922 scrapbook.

I was flipping through these pages, when all of a sudden, there was my patroness photo!

MacBeth Gallery Records, Archives of American Art, Scrapbook 8, 1922 January-1924 December.

The photo illustrated the November 13, 1922, Dallas Times Herald article “Noted Concert Singer Delighted Over Collection of Art Treasures in Dallas.” The concert singer is Madame Louise Homer. She knew Robert MacBeth from his New York gallery and he invited her to preview the exhibition while in Dallas for a performance at the coliseum. So, the woman in the photo is technically an art patroness, just not a Dallas one.

The other paintings in the photo are also identified in the article, and I am happy to say that my educated guesses were correct.

This was a fun research project to work on, and happily it resulted in definitive answers and a mystery solved—if only they were all like that.

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

Whiskered Deities

Cats are invading the DMA beginning this Sunday, October 9, when the Museum opens the nationally touring exhibition Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt. The exhibition features 80 objects from the world-renowned Egyptian collection of the Brooklyn Museum depicting cats and lions in ancient Egyptian mythology, kingship, and everyday life (and a few dogs too).

Below is an interview with DMA curator and avid cat-lover Dr. Anne Bromberg that was first published in the DMA Member magazine Artifacts. Mark your calendars for a cat-tastic night on Friday, October 21, during a special Late Night celebrating all things cat and Egypt. Listen to the purrrfect soundtrack to understand why cats are the Furry Conquerors of Culture, and follow the DMA on Spotify.

What are you most excited to present in this exhibition?
The ancient Egyptians were superb artists. Or perhaps one should say they were wealthy enough that they could afford to pay artists generously. The other interesting aspect is that for the Egyptians, cats were very important as divinities, as well as fun and delightful in ordinary life. I’ve said this to practically everybody, but cats have the closest brains to primates, or us, monkeys!

Sphinx of King Sheshenq, c. 945–718 B.C.E., bronze, Brooklyn Museum. Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 33.586

Sphinx of King Sheshenq, Egypt, Third Intermediate Period, c. 945–718 B.C.E., bronze, Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 33.586

Many people associate the ancient Egyptians with death or funerary rituals.
That’s partly because tombs were substantially built, so they survived. It’s clear from tomb paintings that the homes of the ancient Egyptians were equally glamorous, but almost none of that has survived.

What did this glamorous life look like?
They had beautiful clothes and were well fed. Furnishings of the everyday, as well as ritual objects, were exquisitely made. I’m sure they had trashy junk (because everyone does) but the impression you have is that the objects people lived with were really beautiful. The Egyptians believed that after death you could live forever in the land of eternal life. Part of the appeal of all Egyptian art, and certainly of this show, is that you see art made by people who believed you could take it with you.

Cat's Head, 30 B.C.E. to 3rd century C.E., bronze, gold, Brooklyn Museum. Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 36.114

Cat’s Head, Egypt, Roman Period, 30 B.C.E.-3rd century C.E., bronze and gold, Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 36.114

It’s impressive that the ancient Egyptian civilization lasted so long.
They were isolated to some degree, and they had a foolproof source of food with the Nile River. They were also extremely literate. People who conquered Egypt knew they were taking over one of the most sophisticated cultures in their world, so they allowed that culture to continue. This many-thousand-year continuity of culture did not disappear until the coming of the Christians, who were opposed to traditional Egyptian religious ideas.

Does any part of that culture persist today?
Something that has continued unabated from prehistoric times and up until today is the passion for cats. It is still a very pro-cat civilization.

Figure of a Cat, 305 B.C.E.–1st century C.E., wood (sycamore fig), gilded gesso, bronze, copper, pigment, rock crystal, glass, Brooklyn Museum. Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund , 37.1945E

Figure of a Cat, Egypt, Ptolemaic Period-Roman Period, 305 B.C.E.–1st century C.E., wood (sycamore fig), gilded gesso, bronze,rock crystal, and glass, Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.1945E

Kimberly Daniell is the Senior Manager of Communications, Public Affairs, and Social Media Strategy at the DMA.

Sculpture for the Body – Art Smith at the DMA

Art Smith , Untitled, 1948-1979, wood, paint, copper, Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Charles L. Russell, 2007.61.36a-m

Art Smith , Untitled, 1948-1979, wood, paint, copper, Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Charles L. Russell, 2007.61.36a-m

This week we are putting the finishing touches on the DMA’s presentation of the exhibition From the Village to Vogue: The Modernist Jewelry of Art Smith. Highlighting a pioneer of late 20th-century jewelry design whose work represents the progressive modernist impulse of “sculpture for the body,” the installation is both dramatic in appearance and revealing in what it contains. This collection, which also features examples of works by Smith’s contemporaries, is drawn from the collection of the Brooklyn Museum, which received a major gift of the artist’s work in 2007. While we are thrilled to host this exhibition of a leading American jewelry artist, our interest in having From the Village to Vogue appear at the DMA was also to note the larger importance of this medium and reflect upon the DMA’s interest in expanding our jewelry holdings. Just as fashion boldly entered our galleries through the 2011 presentation of The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, this year we will not only feature the work of Art Smith but also, excitingly, make plans for future exhibitions of jewelry and other design arts.

Art Smith, Ellington Necklace, circa 1962, silver, turquoise, amethyst, prase, rhodonite, Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Charles L. Russell, 2007.61.4

Art Smith, “Ellington” Necklace, c. 1962, silver, amethyst, chrysoprase, rhodonite, green quartz, Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Charles L. Russell, 2007.61.4

Beyond the realm of curators and collectors of modernist studio jewelry, Art Smith’s work is often unfamiliar, yet his impact and those of his contemporaries in the decades following World War II helped shape a new American movement in both design and craft. Drawing from the trend toward abstraction in painting and sculpture, Smith and other designer-craftspeople experimented with highly stylized forms, particularly the biomorphic imagery that characterized the work of sculptors such as Isamu Noguchi and, notably, Alexander Calder. Unlike other sculptors who may have occasionally produced jewelry, Calder’s passion for the medium appeared at least equal to that for his more widely known large-scale mobiles and stabiles. Like Calder, Smith reveled in the whirling organic line: bent wirework that was complemented by flattened ovoid forms, semiprecious stones, and richly finished patinas. Unlike so-called “high-style” jewelry, faceted gemstones and highly polished precious metals were typically set aside in preference for subdued materials and more direct fabrication techniques that were undoubtedly less labor intensive, but also ones that provided more visceral results by reflecting the hands of the artist as an immediate, personal expression. What could be more perfect for the medium of jewelry, which is, like other elements of fashion, an equally personal manifestation of the wearer’s preferences? And they were indeed artists in keeping with the spirit of the times; the modern sculpture, painting, and rhythmic vibrancy of jazz that Smith admired certainly echo throughout the punctuated, gestural lines, which form a type of visual play in his richly syncopated designs. You may notice this almost immediately upon entering the darkly colored main gallery, which features Smith’s work. Even in static display, each piece seems to dance with a particular life of its own.

(left) Art Smith, "Modern Cuff" Bracelet, designed circa 1948, silver, Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Charles L. Russell, 2007.61.15; (right) Peter Basch, Model Wearing Art Smith's "Modern Cuff" Bracelet, circa 1948, black-and-white photograph, Courtesy of Brooklyn Museum

(left) Art Smith, “Modern Cuff” Bracelet, designed c. 1948, silver, Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Charles L. Russell, 2007.61.15; (right) Peter Basch, Model Wearing Art Smith’s “Modern Cuff” Bracelet, c. 1948, black-and-white photograph, Courtesy of Brooklyn Museum

As you might expect, it is always exciting for the many hands and minds that make such exhibitions possible at the DMA to delve into a new arena as we are doing now with modern jewelry. From interpretation to design, each of our exhibitions requires hundreds of hours of brainstorming, logistical planning, and creative input, all with the hope that whatever subject we bring you will be offered in a way you will find compelling or even thrilling. As a curator, communicating facts is only one part of my job; sharing my enthusiasm for looking, learning, and celebrating the diverse creative achievements of the visual world is, at heart, what I and all of my colleagues at the DMA do every day. We hope you will find From the Village to Vogue: The Modernist Jewelry of Art Smith and our new jewelry endeavors just as exciting as we do!

Kevin Tucker is The Margot B. Perot Senior Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the DMA.

Installing the American Twenties

Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties opens this Sunday after an inaugural presentation at the Brooklyn Museum. Preparation for the exhibition began in January, and below are a few images of the installation process.

Adam Gingrich is the Administrative Assistant for Marketing and Communications at the DMA.


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,605 other followers

Archives

Twitter Updates

Flickr Photo Stream

Categories