Posts Tagged 'China'

Have a PAWsome New Year!

Friday is Chinese New Year and we invite you to start the New Year with us as we celebrate the Year of the Dog during our monthly Late Night. Throughout the night, you can experience lion dances, watch Chinese martial arts demonstrations, have your name written in Chinese calligraphy, and listen to traditional Chinese music in our galleries. There will be dog-themed tours, of course, but you can get a jump-start learning about the dogs in our collection with two previous blog posts here and here.

While dogs take precedence this year, be sure to check out these works of art from China on Level 3 that feature other animals from the Chinese zodiac:

Funerary plaque, China, Western Jin dynasty, 219-316 CE, limestone, The Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund, 2016.33.a-b

This tomb marker features two of the four “spiritually endowed” directional deities – the tortoise and the dragon. The other two deities are the phoenix and the unicorn. While not one of the animals represented in the Chinese zodiac, the tortoise is important in Chinse Buddhist belief because it symbolized longevity.

Pair of Lokapala (Heavenly Guardians), China, Tang dynasty, 1st half of 8th century, pottery with colored lead glazes, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Fund, in honor of Ellen and Harry S. Parker III, 1987.1-2.MCD

Learn more about these heavenly guardians, which often featured lions and tigers on their armor and showed triumph as guardians by balancing on the figure of a bull (or ox), on our 6:30 p.m. spotlight tour with DMA Teaching Specialist Jennifer Sheppard.

Rectangular box, China, mark and reign of Emperor Wanli (r. 1573-1619), dated in inscription to 1595, cinnabar lacquer over wood core, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. George A. Shutt

The cover of this box features two symmetrically opposed imperial five-clawed dragons chasing the flaming pearl of wisdom.

Polo horse tomb figure, China, attributed to Tang dynasty (A.D. 618-907), ceramic, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Rothwell, 1960.167

This horse is a mingqi or “spirit object” that was buried with the deceased in underground tombs. With the accession of the emperors of the Tang dynasty, the number of funerary objects placed in tombs increased, as funerary art became a means to display your wealth publically.

Friday’s Late Night will also feature a talk by DMA curator Dr. Anne Bromberg who will discuss our new installation Asian Textiles: Art and Trade Along the Silk Road which features these two coats from China:

Short coat: dragons and auspicious symbols, China, late 19th century, silk with metal-wrapped yarn, Gift of Betty Ann Walter and Ruth Walter Benedict in memory of Ethyl Walter and Gladys Walter, 1993.70

Woman’s semi-formal court coat, China, 19th century, silk and metal-wrapped yarns, Gift of Mrs. Beatrice M. Haggerty, 1995.40

So if January wasn’t all you thought it would be, start fresh this Friday and join us as we kick-off a PAWsome new year!

Stacey Lizotte is Head of Adult Programming and Multimedia Services

Treasures of the Dead: Burial Art of Ancient China

Today’s post comes from Mo Gyeong Seong, a DMA Teen Advisory Council member with a serious passion for history. He currently attends Carroll Senior High School in Southlake, Texas, where he has taken several classes in world history, humanities, and global languages. Enjoy his bite-sized tour of Chinese burial sculpture from the DMA’s permanent collection!

China’s Tang Dynasty was marked as a time of prosperity and discovery that fostered a distinctive cultural sphere lasting down to the modern day. Religion and spirituality played an important part in Tang life, and great thought was put into what would happen after an individual’s last breath. With Halloween fast approaching, I wanted to share a bite-sized tour of some of the burial art made by the Tang Dynasty.

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Pair of Lokapalas (Heavenly Guardians), early 8th century C.E., Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., in honor of Ellen and Harry S. Parker III

The Lokapala are guardians of the world in Buddhism, introduced to Tang China by the preceding Sui Dynasty. According to legend, the Lokapala were originally protector gods in Ancient India, called the Four Great Heavenly Kings. After witnessing the enlightenment of the Buddha, they chose to lead an army of ghosts to defend the worshippers of the Buddha from demons. The Four Kings would slowly integrate into Chinese burial traditions, guarding the four cardinal directions. Their fierce faces reflect their foreign origins. However, their armor is of a mystical Chinese style and a feng huang–an East Asian mythological King of Birds and symbol of harmony and royalty–is sculpted into their helmets.

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Polo horse tomb figure, 618-906, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Rothwell.

Some of the finest pieces from Chinese tombs are the handsome and muscular ceramic horses created by talented craftsmen for burials of the elite. This one has faded over time, but centuries ago it would have dazzled in reds and oranges. Horses, thought to be related to dragons and crucial to the countless military campaigns waged by China, symbolized strength, wealth, and power. Horses also represented a spiritual ascension, as the souls of the dead could ride them into the afterlife.

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Tomb Plaque Marker on a Tortoise Base, 1000-1200, Dallas Museum of Art, the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund

After the fall of the Tang Dynasty, a new burial tradition was adopted by the nobility: the use of large stone stele, or bei in Chinese. These stele were often etched with information from the deceased’s life, including occupation, age and date of death, birthplace, and their life accomplishments, as an enduring honor to the deceased. The stele is capped by carvings of mythological animals and erected on the back of a stone tortoise, an animal who could carry heavy loads according to Chinese mythology.

Make sure you visit these works of art currently on view on Level 3 of the permanent collection galleries! What other burial traditions can you uncover at the Museum?

Mo Gyeong Seong
Teen Advisory Council Member

Friday Photos: Tea Time!

While I am definitely a tea drinker year round, there’s nothing I love more about fall and winter than curling up on the couch with a nice hot cup of tea… now if only our Texas weather would cooperate and cool down a bit!

Tea began its journey in China, travelled to Japan, India and Britain, and from there it was carried to countries around the world.  With its discovery placed around 2730 BC, the history of tea is steeped (get it?) in cultural relevance from the beautiful zen Japanese tea ceremony to the refined class of the English afternoon tea.  And with the recent election, we cannot forget the role that tea played in the rebellious Boston Tea Party!

Luckily, the Dallas Museum of Art has a fantastic collection of tea sets and related works of art to help me get in a cozy state of mind, regardless of the weather!

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Featured artworks:

  • Jean-Emile Puiforcat, Tea and coffee service, c. 1925, Dalals Museum of Art, the Patsy Lacy Griffith Collection, gift of Patsy Lacy Griffith by exchange
  • Étienne-Henri Le Guay (gilder), Sèvres Porcelain Factory (manufacturer), Tea service (déjeuner),1789, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Michael L. Rosenberg
  • Reuben Haley (designer, Fulper-Stangl Pottery (manufacturer), “Square Modern” tea service, 1925, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Sidney and George Perutz in honor of Kevin W. Tucker
  • James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Afternoon Tea, 1895, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts, The Alfred and Juanita Bromberg Collection, bequest of Juanita K. Bromberg
  • Harold Stabler (designer), Adie Brothers, Ltd. (manufacturer), Tea service, Dallas Museum of Art, The Karl and Esther Hoblitzelle Collection, gift of the Hoblitzelle Foundation by exchange
  • Thomas Wilkinson and Sons (manufacturer), “Pelican Ware” tea service, 1885, Dallas Museum of Art, anonymous gift
  • Michael Graves (designer), Fratelli Alessi (manufacturer), Tea and coffee service (from the “Piazza” series), 1980, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund
  • Margarete Heymann-Marks (designer), Hael Workshops for Artistic Ceramics (manufacturer), Tea service, c. 1930, Dallas Museum of Art, 20th-Century Design Fund
  • Nicholas Krushenick, Boston Tea Party, 1975, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Michael L. Rosenberg
  • John C. Moore (designer), Mulford, Wendell & Co (manufacturer), Tea and coffee service, c. 1851, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of T. Peter Townsend and Joanna Townsend
  • Antonio Pineda, Tea set, c. 1960, Dallas Museum of Art, 20th-Century Design Fund
  • Tea stand with cover and bowl, Tibet, 18th century, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Alta Brenner in memory of her daughter Andrea Bernice Brenner-McMullen

Pilar Wong
McDermott Intern for Community Teaching

Longtime Curator “Travels” DMA’s Silk Road

Following her new installation in the third-floor galleries of objects that reflect transport along Eurasia’s  Silk Road, “seasoned” curator Dr. Anne Bromberg sat down with us to discuss her fascinating career. A lifelong Dallasite—except for her years at Harvard getting her B.A. in anthropology and M.A. and Ph.D. in classical art and archaeology—Dr. Bromberg has been on the staff of the Dallas Museum of Art for more than forty years, first as a lecturer and docent trainer beginning in 1962, then as head of the education department, and currently as The Cecil and Ida Green Curator of Ancient and Asian Art. What’s more, she has led an inspired life, traveling extensively to little-known locales, researching and experiencing the cultures within her discipline.

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Q: How would you describe your job at the DMA?

AB: Most curatorial jobs involve trying to acquire art for the museum, organizing exhibitions and/or working on exhibitions that come to us from elsewhere, publishing, lecturing, working with volunteers, [and] cultivating donors. In terms of legwork, it’s going around and seeing dealers and other collections, visiting other museums, going to conferences, and giving lectures outside the museum.

Q: You are in charge of a very diverse area of the Museum’s collections. What is your particular area of expertise?

AB: Classical art, meaning the art of ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, and all Asian art, but I’m mainly working with South Asian art.

Q: How did you become interested in Asian art?

AB: One of the really outstanding teachers I had taught evolution in her biology courses, including historical geology, and I was really fascinated with historical geology and that got me into reading about archaeology. And I thought, this is what I want to do. A good teacher makes a difference. I’ve actually been interested in Asia for a long, long time. When I was an undergraduate, I was reading books on Zen Buddhism and haiku, the Ramayana, and things like that. Books stimulate your passion to go see these things in reality.

Q: What are some of your favorite places you’ve traveled to?

AB:  I think both my husband, Alan, and I would say the single favorite place we’ve been is Isfahan in Persia. Italy, of all the European countries, is easily the most seductive, and everybody I know who has been to India is dying to get back. We’ve been there so many times, and you feel like you’ve just scratched the surface.”

Q: What is your favorite object within the ancient and Asian collections at the DMA? Within another collection?

AB: The Shiva Nataraja, because that image is the single most important iconic image in Hinduism generally, and many Hindus would agree with that. It is exceptionally beautiful both aesthetically and because it represents the loving quality of the god Shiva. South Indian Hindu poems describe worship as falling in love with the god, and our Shiva Nataraja is the embodiment of that Chola period poetry.

Brancusi’s Beginning of the World. because of my background, I personally have a strong response to pure geometric forms and classical idealism, and I’m certainly not alone in believing that the ancient Greeks would appreciate that classical, pure, and geometric vision of the beginning of the world.

Q: Do you personally collect art? What types of objects are you most drawn to?

AB: Primarily we’ve collected what I would call third-world contemporary art—things that at the time were being made wherever—New Guinea, India, South America, Mexico, etc.

Q: Why do you think it is important for people to study non-Western art?

AB: If you study non-Western art, you’ll learn what human beings create and why. If you stick only to your own civilization, you are much less likely to think about why these things are being made . . . or about a much more serious question to me, why do we call it art?

Q: Describe your current project, an installation of objects from the DMA’s collections focusing on the Silk Road.

AB: The Silk Road installation is something that has interested me for a long time. We do have a lot of artwork that really displays the meaning of the Silk Road, which tied Eurasia together for millennia. So I was delighted when I got a space where I could show the ties between the Mediterranean world and Asia.

The Silk Road is an ancient transcontinental network of trade routes that spread across Eurasia from the Mediterranean to China and Japan. The phenomenon of the Silk Road is constantly studied and has recently been featured in museum exhibitions around the world. The new installation, organized by Dr. Bromberg, addresses six themes related to the Silk Road, including the development of cities and trade, the importance of animals to early societies, and the spread of religions. The installation presents well-known DMA favorites, such as the Javanese Ganesha and the bust of a man from Palmyra, and new works from several local private collections. Opening this weekend, come see the new installation on Level 3 the next time you visit the DMA.

Ashley Bruckbauer is the McDermott Intern for Programs and Resources for Teachers at the Dallas Museum of Art and Madelyn Strubelt is the McDermott Curatorial Intern of Ancient and Asian Art at the Dallas Museum of Art.

The Art of Appropriation, a Wednesday Gallery Talk

Every Wednesday at 12:15 p.m., visitors can meet at the Visitor Services Desk for the Museum’s weekly Gallery Talk.   Gallery talks are 45-minute long intimate lectures and discussions that take place in the Museum galleries.  These talks are very different from a tour in that they typically focus on a narrow group of objects with a unifying theme within the Museum’s collections or special exhibitions.  They are often led by Museum curators, visiting scholars, and Museum staff.  Each year, every McDermott Intern leads a gallery talk as part of their internship experience. 

I was the first intern up to bat in leading a Gallery Talk titled The Art of Appropriation: “Exotic” Motifs in European Art.

Below are images of several of the objects I discussed during the talk.

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I decided to focus on appropriation art, a topic taken from my honors thesis as an undergraduate at SMU.  I’ve done extensive research on chinoiserie, an 18th-century European decorative arts movement inspired by Asian motifs, and this served as the starting point for my investigation of Asian-influenced objects in the DMA’s collections.  The talk emphasized four main topics in the discussion of these objects.

1. The definition and different types of appropriation art or art that crosses cultural boundaries.  For example, the colonial Mexican screen pictured in the slideshow appropriates styles, motifs, and subjects from Japan, China, the Netherlands, and ancient Rome.  See if you can determine which element can be attributed to which country!

2. Early (13th to 17th century) travel, trade, and other forms of contact between Europe and Asia.  Cosmopolitan objects, such as the Mexican screen, would not have been possible without cross-cultural exchange of information and goods between the two continents.  This exchange manifested in the early accounts of travelers like Marco Polo, the trade of goods and publication of scientific surveys through the various East India Companies, and missionary publications.

3. 17th- and 18th-century Chinese and Japanese exports and subsequent European “copies.”  Objects such as the Charger seen above represent early porcelain exports from China (made at the Jingdezhen imperial kiln) and the influence of European taste on their decorative elements.  Due to the relatively high cost of these imports, Europeans began making faience, and later porcelain, copies of Asian-produced objects.

4. The contradictory pairing of exoticism and ethnography in the 19th-century.  The 19th-century saw the emergence of the field of ethnography, fueled by the World’s Fairs and a growing body of “scientific” literature.  However, the notion of the East as a mysterious and exotic land persisted as seen in the painting above by Alfred Stevens that showcases the artist’s collection of Japanese screens, Chinese porcelain, and Kashmir textiles within the quintessentially French context of the salon.

Leading a gallery talk is a unique experience for an intern, and all in all it was very enriching, though a bit nerve-racking.  This topic was especially rich to share with museum visitors, as most everyone has experience with some type of appropriation!  It is a ubiquitous presence in our lives from advertisements that include famous works of art to the millions of souvenir stands selling Mona Lisa key chains or Mao Zedong t-shirts.  Post your example of appropriation to the comments section!

Upcoming Gallery Talks for the month of January include:

January 5th: Must be Willing to Travel: Early American Portraitists and the Transatlantic Exchange, led by Sara Woodbury (McDermott Graduate Curatorial Intern for European and American Art)

January 12th: Form/Unformed: Design from 1960 to the Present, led by Kevin W. Tucker (The Margot B. Perot Curator of Decorative Arts and Design, DMA)

January 19th: Topping It Off: Portraits of Women in Fashionable Hats, led by Sarah Vitek (McDermott Education Intern for Adult Programming)

January 26th: European Art and the Rosenberg Collection, led by Heather MacDonald (The Lillian and James H. Clark Associate Curator of European Art, DMA)

Ashley Bruckbauer
McDermott Education Intern for Resources and Programs for Teachers


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