Posts Tagged 'J. M. W. Turner'

Mr. Turner: They Say It’s Your Birthday

This week we will celebrate Joseph Mallord William “J. M. W.” Turner’s 240th birthday! The pioneering English artist always claimed that his birthday was April 23, 1775, but in fact the precise date of his birth is a bit of a mystery. Turner was a prolific artist. By the end of his celebrated career, he had produced more than 550 oil paintings, 2,000 watercolors, and 30,000 works on paper. You may recall many of his works from the DMA’s popular 2008 exhibition J. M. W. Turner.

But you don’t have to wait for another blockbuster exhibition to see paintings by Turner at the DMA. Wend your way to the European Galleries on Level 2 to see his 1803 landscape Bonneville, Savoy. In this painting, Turner describes the gentle landscape of the foothills of the Alps, dotted with signs of human habitation, but in the distance he includes a glimpse of Mont Blanc’s forbidding snow-capped peak.

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Bonneville, Savoy, 1803, oil on canvas, 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. 1985.97.FA

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Bonneville, Savoy, 1803, oil on canvas, 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., 1985.97.FA

Later in Turner’s career, his palette became brighter and more transparent, ultimately resulting in compositions that were almost pure shimmering color and light, making the objects he depicted practically unrecognizable. This mature style placed his works in the vanguard of European painting that greatly influenced the next generation of artists. In fact, the French impressionist Claude Monet closely studied Turner’s techniques.

To learn more about this important British artist, watch the 2014 film Mr. Turner. It includes a scene in which he reportedly strapped himself to the mast of a ship so that he could paint a snowstorm. Or even better, stop by the DMA’s Museum Store and purchase a copy of Turner: Life and Landscape by our own Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs, Olivier Meslay. The (obviously) well-written book 😉 includes rich illustrations and is a wealth of information about our birthday boy, Mr. Turner.

Martha Macleod is the Curatorial Administrative Assistant for the European and American Art Department at the DMA.

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: 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

Behind the Books: An Interview With Our DMA Librarian

Uncrated tracked down Librarian Mary Leonard to talk about her job at the Museum. Mary is the friendly face that greets you when you enter the Mayer Library here at the DMA. Her knowledge is invaluable to researchers of art—and probably a few of us trivia buffs.

Describe your job in fifty words or less.
I handle reference questions and acquisitions for the library. We are open to the public during certain hours and I help visitors during those times and also assist people on the phone and via e-mail. The Mayer Library is a research library—the stacks are closed—so appointments are recommended. But walk-ins are welcome too!

What might an average day entail?
Sometimes I’m going over new books lists—my favorite job! During public hours, I’m at the reference desk and I might be helping a student with a paper or an appraiser with auction results. I check out books to staff and give orientations to new staff and docents. Every day can be different.

How would you describe the best part of your job and its biggest challenges?
The best part of my job is actually getting to look at all the beautiful books we have in our collection. One of the biggest challenges is keeping up with what’s actually going on out in the Museum—seeing new acquisitions and exhibitions. I can get stuck at my desk pretty easily.

Growing up, what type of career did you envision yourself in? Did you think you’d work in an art museum?
I had no idea when I was a kid out in West Texas that these kinds of jobs even existed! But I’ve always loved libraries and art, so I’m really fortunate my career led me here.

What is your favorite work in the DMA collection?
The Fantin-Latour Still Life with Vase of Hawthorne. Or the Matisse Still Life: Bouquet and Compotier. There’s a pattern here. . . . I also love the Fleischner Courtyard, right outside the library windows. I’ve seen it in every season and I never get tired of looking out the window. See, I’m not daydreaming, I’m looking at art!

Is there a past exhibition that stands out in your mind as a favorite or is there a particular upcoming show you’re looking forward to seeing?
Everyone is excited about Jean Paul Gaultier—we have the catalog here already and it’s massive. I can’t wait to get down and see the African Headwear exhibition. In the past, I loved the J. M. W. Turner show and the Anne Vallayer-Coster exhibition. Beautiful paintings—what’s not to love?

Staff Profile: Prepping Up

Uncrated tracked down Preparator, Mary Nicolett, to talk about her job at the Museum. Mary is a key member of the installation team and is known for her keen eye and attention to detail.

Describe your job in 50 words or less.
My official title is “Preparator, Logistics Facilitator,” which is a fancy way of saying that when I am not busy as a preparator moving, installing or taking care of the art, that I am ordering supplies or tools in preparation for the teams’ upcoming tasks.

What might an average day entail?
My days and weeks vary, depending upon what installation we are working on.  I may be moving works in storage, building archival boxes for delicate items, researching the newest drills, touch-up painting the walls, or installing an intricate or obsessive artwork.  There are always the deliveries and pick-ups that interrupt the flow of the day, but I am lucky that I get to uncrate works of art, which sometimes makes me the first person in the building that gets to see something new! Only one thing is consistent in my day: the coffee during our afternoon break.

How would you describe the best part of your job and its biggest challenges?
I am continually learning. My coworkers have a wide variety of talents, and both the exhibitions and collections departments work wonderfully together as a team. I learn something new during most installations. The variety of artworks that enter the building vary in age, material and construction and thus their needs differ. This diversity continually specifies what techniques or care are needed in order to preserve the works, keeping us on our toes.

Growing up, what type of career did you envision yourself in? Did you think you’d work in an art museum?
I was too busy being a kid to think about a career, but I was very influenced by my father who worked as an architectural draftsman and took some evening terracotta studio courses from Octavio Medellin. My ease in math, geometry and spatial relationships steered me towards a degree in sculpture, but even then I did not think about working at a museum.

What is your favorite work in the DMA collection?
That is a tough question, as the answer probably changes with my moods!  The lovely Indonesian textiles from the Sarawak area, with their wealth of history, intricacy of detail, and process of dying the wefts prior to weaving are inspirational to me. I have continual fondness for the graceful serenity of the Henry Moore maquettes. But, I have to admit, my first week at the museum I just HAD to see Tom Wesselmann’s Mouth #11, as I remember it from an elementary school tour, when the DMA was at Fair Park.

Is there a past exhibition that stands out in your mind as a favorite or is there a particular upcoming show you’re looking forward to seeing?
The J. M. W. Turner exhibition was fantastic! The layout and gallery design with the moldings created a perfect environment for his works. I like contemporary art more than landscapes and port scenes, but his paintings continually stopped me in my tracks while doing my duties. The upcoming Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit has many challenges for us ahead, and our designer, curator and exhibition team are still in the process of deciding all the intricate details that go into such a show. With this being our first big “fashion” exhibition, I look forward to dressing the mannequins and getting an up-close view of the pieces, some of which are more like strange sculptural forms than clothing.


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