Posts Tagged 'Metropolitan Museum of Art'

Bon Voyage to The Icebergs

Considered by some to be the DMA’s Mona Lisa, Frederic Edwin Church’s The Icebergs has been a destination icon for museum visitors ever since it was placed on display in 1979. Measuring slightly over 7 feet high and 11 feet wide in its frame, and weighing a cumbersome 425 pounds, it is the anchor of the American galleries in both a figurative and literal sense. Consequently, its presence is as keenly felt as its absence. Yet, there are times when a museum must make a sacrifice—albeit reluctantly–in the support of new art historical scholarship.

Frederic Edwin Church, “The Icebergs,” 1861, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Norma and Lamar Hunt, 1979.28

The Icebergs is to play a pivotal role in the presentation of the upcoming exhibition The Civil War and American Art, which will open at the Smuithsonian American Art Museum and travel to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Longtime members of the DMA will be pleased to know that this important exhibition has been organized by the DMA’s former curator of American Art Dr. Eleanor Jones Harvey, who has been with the Smithsonian American Art Museum since 2003. The exhibition will feature key works by America’s greatest artists of the era. These works channeled the conflicting emotions of a nation coming to grips with a reality that altered the very fabric of its identity and transformed its once unassailable optimism into dread for the unknown outcomes that lay ahead.

Frederic Edwin Church, “Cotopaxi,” 1862, oil on canvas, Detroit Institute of Arts, Founders Society Purchase, Robert H. Tannahill Foundation Fund, Gibbs-Williams Fund, Dexter M. Ferry Jr. Fund, Merrill Fund, Beatrice W. Rogers Fund, and Richard A. Manoogian Fund, Photo courtesy Detroit Institute of Arts

Key to charting the path from America’s loss of faith to its eventual hope of redemption will be four monumental landscapes by Frederic Church: The Icebergs, Cotopaxi, Aurora Borealis, and Rainy Season in the Tropics. The first two works have often been paired in a binary context of arctic and tropics, but, in this presentation, their multiple layers of meaning are to be revealed. In the case of The Icebergs, Church changed its title to The North for its debut just twelve days after the beginning of the war in 1861. He also donated all the ticket proceeds to the Union Red Cross. In his painting of the following year, Cotopaxi, Church depicted paradise rent asunder by the volcanic and explosive forces of nature as a symbolic reflection of the cleaving of a nation. A month before the end of the war, Church exhibited Aurora Borealis, wherein the darkness of the endless arctic winter echoed the weariness that dominated the American psyche. In Rainy Season in the Tropics, presented in 1866 after the close of the war, Church delivered the viewer—and a nation—from its trials and tribulations into a paradise redeemed by a nourishing rain and the promise of a double rainbow.

Frederic Edwin Church, “Aurora Borealis,” 1865, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Eleanor Blodgett, Photo courtesy Smithsonian American Art Museum

Frederic Edwin Church, “Rainy Season in the Tropics,” 1866, oil on canvas, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase, Mildred Anna Williams Collection

For those wanting to bid a fond farewell to The Icebergs before its departure, please be sure to do so before mid-October, when it will be removed from view. If you would like to see the DMA’s masterpiece in the context of the exhibition, it will be at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., November 16, 2012–April 27, 2013, and then in New York at the Metropolitan Museum of Art May 21–September 2, 2013.

Sue Canterbury is The Pauline Gill Sullivan Associate Curator of American Art at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Art in Bloom 2012 “A Blooming Success”

Last week we hosted our annual Art in Bloom event at the DMA. Former Metropolitan Museum of Art Floral Designer Chris Giftos spoke at the Floral Symposium and Luncheon before guests bid on floral arrangements from designers throughout Dallas. Below are a few highlights from the day.

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

Living the Dream

Uncrated tracked down the DMA’s Chair of Collections and Exhibitions, Tamara Wootton-Bonner, to talk about her job at the Museum. Tamara has the large responsibility of overseeing the Museum’s exhibitions, publications, collections, libraries, archives, and digital imaging departments, and as you will read below, she knew early on that she wanted to work in a museum.


Describe your job in fifty words or less.
I’m the Chair of Collections and Exhibitions and I oversee the exhibitions, publications, collections management, libraries, archives, and digital imaging departments. My main job is to make sure that our exhibitions, publications, and other key projects happen successfully (and are on time and within budget) and to keep everyone happy.

What might an average day entail?
Meetings and e-mails! Besides that, I have to take on a variety of roles: in a single day I might have to be a cheerleader, mom, taskmaster, accountant, lawyer, writer, editor, project manager, critic, negotiator, facilitator, logistician, bad guy, and, if I’m lucky, I get to look at art. The greatest days are working with designers and artists . . . on exhibitions, publications, building projects, etc. But I also have fun managing budgets, negotiating contracts, solving problems, and planning for the future.

How would you describe the best part of your job and its biggest challenges?
The best part of my job is working with lots of wonderful, creative people. It’s exciting to see ideas come to life and to know that you’ve been a part of it—whether it’s an exhibition, a publication, or something else. I love to watch an exhibition come together or smell a new book hot off the press.

The biggest challenge can be trying to do too much with too little. We are an ambitious bunch around here and almost everyone is a perfectionist.

Growing up, what type of career did you envision yourself in? Did you think you’d work in an art museum?
As a child I wanted to be an artist. I used to draw and paint all the time. But by the time I graduated from high school I knew I wanted to work in a museum. I started as a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and now . . . here I am.

What is your favorite work in the Museum’s collection?
I have several—Franz Kline’s Slate Cross, the Indonesian tau tau, and the Olmec jade mask are among my absolute favorites. But it changes every day. Tatsuo Miyajima’s Counter Ground and the James Lee Byars works in the Silence and Time exhibition, on view now, are amazing.

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?
That’s easy—The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier! It’s going to be phenomenal. We’ve never done a fashion exhibition, so it’s going to be a challenge. But it’s going to be an exciting challenge.


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