Posts Tagged 'Edouard Manet'

Why Flowers?

bouquets
The Dallas Museum of Art is currently at T-minus 11 days until the opening of our new exhibition, Bouquets: French Still-Life Painting from Chardin to Matisse. Floral still-life paintings are arriving from across North America and Europe, and Bouquets will open to the public on Sunday, October 26, 2014 (DMA Partners will have a chance to see the exhibition a few days earlier during the DMA Partner Preview days on October 23-25).

As a curator of this exhibition, I’ve already had several people ask me how I became interested in this rather specialized subject. I will confess straightaway that it is not because I have any particular skill in growing flowers (sadly, the contrary), identifying flowers (I have a shockingly bad memory for names, of both plants and people), or arranging flowers (even the most elegant bouquet from the florist becomes an awkward muddle when I’m entrusted with the task of transferring it to a vase). So, I did not enter into this exhibition with the belief that I had any special insights into the world of flowers to share.

Rather, I was brought to the exhibition by the DMA’s art collection. In some cases, we decide to pursue an exhibition because it allows us as curators to share with our audiences art that is not represented in depth in our own collection. This was the case with J.M.W. Turner in 2008 or Chagall: Beyond Color in 2013; however, there are also moments when we create exhibition projects as a way to showcase particular strengths of our collection and build a major research project around our own masterpieces. This was the case with Bouquets.

Several years ago, I was approached by my co-curator, Dr. Mitchell Merling of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, with an idea for an exhibition of French floral still-life painting. He wanted the exhibition to focus on the table-top still life and the bouquet, and was starting to build a list of possible works to include. Did the DMA have many paintings that fit that description, he asked? By the time I finished rounding up all the works that fit the bill, I went back to Mitchell and told him that I hoped to partner with him in curating the exhibition. Not only did the DMA have more than a dozen works of art that met the criteria, but quite a number of them were also masterpieces of our European art collections. These included important (and incredibly beautiful) paintings by Anne Vallayer-Coster, Henri Fantin-Latour, Edouard Manet, Gustave Caillebotte, Paul Bonnard, and Henri Matisse. I knew that this exhibition would be an invaluable opportunity to give these paintings the kind of visual and scholarly context they so richly deserved. Luckily, Mitchell agreed with me, and we set to work on crafting the exhibition together.

Bouquets includes six important paintings from our collection, making the DMA the largest single lender to the exhibition. In addition to these works that will travel with the exhibition to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond and the Denver Art Museum in 2015, we have also included two additional still lifes from our collection just for the show’s presentation in Dallas—the more the merrier! Although there wasn’t room to include all of our French floral still-life paintings in the exhibition, you can see several others elsewhere in the Museum.

For instance, in Mind’s Eye: Masterworks on Paper from David to Cézanne (on view until October 26, 2014, the same day that Bouquets opens), you can see a major pastel, Flowers in a Black Vase, by the inventive symbolist artist Odilon Redon. Redon is featured in Bouquets with three paintings, but because of the length of the exhibition tour we were not able to include any of his ethereal and fragile pastels. In Flowers in a Black Vase, Redon crafts one of his most sumptuous and darkly beautiful bouquets, a perfect floral tribute for the Halloween season:

Odilon Redon, Flowers in a Black Vase, c. 1909-1910, pastel, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection

Odilon Redon, Flowers in a Black Vase, c. 1909-10, pastel, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection

When you visit our galleries of European art, you’ll see that in the place of Fantin-Latour’s Still Life with Vase of Hawthorne, Bowl of Cherries, Japanese Bowl, and Cup and Saucer, featured in Bouquets, we’ve brought out another painting, Flowers and Grapes, by the same artist. This meticulously composed autumn still life was one of the first paintings in the collection selected for treatment by Mark Leonard, the DMA’s new Chief Conservator, even before his Conservation Studio was opened last fall. The jewel-like tones of the chrysanthemums, zinnias, and grapes in the newly cleaned painting now positively glow on our gallery walls.

Henri Théodore Fantin-Latour, Flowers and Grapes, 1875, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated

Henri Théodore Fantin-Latour, Flowers and Grapes, 1875, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated

And, finally, in the Wendy and Emery Reves Galleries on Level 3, be sure not to miss a special display of one of our smallest and most unpretentious bouquets, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s Bouquet of Violets in a Vase. Painted when the artist was just 18 years old, this still-life reveals the potent influence of Manet on the young artist, as well as Lautrec’s own precocious talent. This small panel painting, usually displayed in the Library Gallery of the Reves wing, where it is difficult for visitors to appreciate, is currently on view in an adjacent space where it can be enjoyed up-close, alongside another early painting by Lautrec.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Bouquet of Violets in a Vase, 1882, oil on panel, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Bouquet of Violets in a Vase, 1882, oil on panel, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection

Flowers are in bloom throughout the Museum this October, and there is no better time to fully appreciate the depth, importance, and sheer beauty of the DMA’s collection of European still-life painting.

Heather MacDonald is The Lillian and James H. Clark Associate Curator of European Art at the DMA.

Artist Astrology: Aquarius and Pisces

This month we are highlighting two astrological signs, Aquarius (January 21 – February 19) and Pisces (February 20 – March 20)! Both signs have produced brilliant artists but, as we will discover, the working methods and aspirations of these two zodiacs are quite different.

Aquarius

People born under the Aquarian zodiac are identified by their forward-thinking and progressive nature. They are self-directed leaders and prefer to define themselves by their originality and uniqueness. Aquarians are constantly adapting and consider change and evolution a crucial element in self-development. Because of this, Aquarians enjoy surprises–both good and bad–and thrive in exciting, stimulating environments. Banality is never an option for an Aquarius. They are extremely mentally active individuals and their mind is rarely at rest. Aquarians maintain this energy and curiosity throughout life, often described as remaining ‘young at heart’.

The DMA collection features multiple Aquarian artists, including Edouard Manet (January 23), Jackson Pollock (January 28), Claes Oldenburg (January 28), Thomas Cole (February 1), Fernand Leger (February 4), and Lewis Comfort Tiffany (February 18).

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Edouard Manet – January 23

During his lifetime, Manet was frequently criticized and satirized for his work. Some of his most significant artwork, including Olympia and Dejeuner sur l’herbe, were rejected from the Salon and hung at the ‘Salon des Refuses’ instead. Even still, Manet continued to submit works to the Salon throughout his life. Despite academic misfortune, Manet’s work inspired a new generation of artists. Edgar Degas and other members of the Impressionist movement would adopt his use of the alla prima technique and treatment of form using a single stroke or flat area of color. His tendency to avoid intermediate values in favor of sharp contrasts of light and dark, as observed in The Spanish Singer (above), also had an influential affect on art historical tradition.

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Jackson Pollock – January 28

The painting above has been interpreted as a self-portrait partially obscured by a mask. A similar image appears in many of Pollock’s artworks, largely reflective of his self-retrospective style and the influence of Jungian analysis. Pollock believed that “Painting is a state of being…Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what he is.” This interest in psychotherapy and Jungian analysis reveals the Aquarian tendency to continually seek change and evolution.

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Claes Oldenburg – January 28

Oldenburg’s Stake Hitch, an emblematic artwork in the DMA collection, was commissioned in 1981 to commemorate the opening of the DMA’s new downtown location. At 18 feet tall, the metal stake plunged through the ground of the gallery, appearing below in the museum’s receiving dock (only accessible to museum staff). Above ground, the stake was attached to the gallery’s 40-foot-ceilings with a massive rope. Stake Hitch, removed from display in 2001, is signature of Oldenburg’s artworks, as his work often features everyday objects enlarged to a monumental scale. Oldenburg’s fascination with material culture catapulted him to the forefront of the Pop Art Movement in the 1960s.

Pisces

Unlike Aquarians, Pisces individuals are not concerned with self-progression and evolution. In fact, the most definitive trait of a Pisces is their unconditionally loving and compassionate nature. Pisces often place the concerns and interests of others above their own, making them indecisive or sacrificial at times. Although they are very observant, their idealistic and emotional instincts can direct their perspective. Pisces are known as the most mature and intuitive sign. They are deeply connected to the world around them and typically choose professions where they can serve others.

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Alexandre Hogue – February 22

The works of Alexandre Hogue display the intuitive sensibilities of a Pisces. His Erosion series, currently on view at the DMA, provides a commentary on the state of North Texas during the Dust Bowl. Hogue felt very connected to the natural environment, having spent his childhood gardening with his mother. She taught him to take care of his natural surroundings and referred to the earth as “Mother Nature.” Given this background, Hogue was disgusted by the selfishness and ignorance of the migratory farmers in early 20th century, rightfully blaming them for producing the Dust Bowl. His Erosion series particularly highlights the devastating effects of land and water erosion, produced by fencing, over-plowing, over-grazing, monocropping, and expanding roadways. Alexandre Hogue: The Erosion Series will be on view through June 15, 2014.

Additional Pisces artists of note include Frank Gehry (February 28th) and Piet Mondrian (March 7th).

Thank you for reading the latest addition of Artist Astrology and don’t forget to check out next month’s section on our ambitious Aries artists!

Artworks shown:

  • Edouard Manet, The Spanish Singer, 1861, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection
  • Jackson Pollock, Portrait and a Dream, 1953, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Algur H. Meadows and the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated
  • Claes Thure Oldenburg, Stake Hitch, 1984, Dallas Museum of Art, commissioned to honor John Dabney Murchison, Sr. for his arts and civic leadership, and presented by his Family
  • Alexandre Hogue, Drouth Stricken Area, 1934, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase

Hayley Prihoda
McDermott Intern for Gallery and Community Teaching


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