Posts Tagged 'Stanley Marcus'

“The Master of the Moment” Takes Texas: Dior and Dallas

During the first ten years of the House of Dior’s existence, Dallas played a pivotal role in the label’s expansion across the Atlantic. Dallas was the first city that Christian Dior visited in the US, when he traveled in 1947 to receive the Neiman Marcus Award for Distinguished Service in the Field of Fashion (called the “Oscars of the fashion industry”).[1] Not only was Dior impressed by the city and by Neiman Marcus itself, which became from that point forward a major retailer of Dior, but he also became close friends with Stanley Marcus, the store’s then-owner. Their relationship is recorded in photographs taken by Marcus as well as in telegrams and letters now kept in the Stanley Marcus Papers at SMU. Collectively, they demonstrate the importance of Dallas to this iconic label and its founder.

Christian Dior accepting the Neiman Marcus Award from Stanley Marcus, 1947, gelatin silver print, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University

Dior’s 1947 visit to Dallas, when he was recognized with the Neiman Marcus Award as “master of the moment in the ranks of French couture,” introduced him to the world of American fashion.[2] Honored alongside Italian shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo, British fashion designer Norman Hartnell, Hollywood costume designer Irene, and actress Dolores del Rio, Dior presented his revolutionary “New Look” to the American South with three outfits specially commissioned for the exposition.[3] The trip inspired him to think of adapting his work to the less formal dressing style of American consumers.[4] A year after his Dallas trip, Dior created his Christian Dior-New York label of ready-to-wear outfits for the American lifestyle. Sold primarily through the house’s boutique in New York, the label was also sold in select stores throughout the US, including at Neiman Marcus.[5] Dior likely exhibited works from this new label when he returned a second time to Dallas in 1950 to show outfits and examples from his new line of men’s ties.[6] Dallas was the site of a major exhibition of Dior’s fashion again in 1954 when it was the only US stop in a Pan-American tour of the recent Paris line.[7]

Christian Dior handing a flower to Billie Marcus, La Colle Noire, photo by Stanley Marcus, 1954, gelatin silver print, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University

During this time, Stanley Marcus and Dior continued to develop their friendship. Numerous photos in the collection show that Marcus visited Dior in France at both his Paris apartment and his country home in Grasse. Letters and telegrams back and forth show the two discussing business as well as personal events in their lives. The relationship between Dior and Stanley Marcus resulted in a large representation of Dior’s products at Neiman Marcus’s 1957 French Fortnight, a two-week-long event that honored the store’s fiftieth anniversary. The accompanying booklet highlighted the range of goods from France’s most well known brands available for purchase, as well as local events celebrating French culture. Dior was represented in a stall that reproduced the original boutique on the Avenue Montaigne, and the company launched its perfume Diorissimo there.[8] Dior was unfortunately unable to attend, and, in fact, he would die before the Fortnight ended. Nevertheless, Dior’s close relationship with Dallas was highlighted by the fact that a poster advertising the Fortnight hung for a time in Dior’s Paris boutique.[9] The next year, Yves Saint Laurent’s first US visit was also to Dallas to receive the Neiman Marcus Award, citing the trip his predecessor took 11 years before.[10] Dallas was a clear focal point of activity for Christian Dior and a city of enormous symbolic importance, and it is therefore appropriate that the man and his label are currently being celebrated at the DMA.

Stanley Marcus and Yves Saint Laurent, photo by Georgette de Bruchard, 1958, gelatin silver print, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University

My thanks to Hillary Bober, archivist at the DMA, Natalie “Schatzie” Lee, research volunteer, and the librarians at SMU for their assistance in this research.

Get a closer look at more archival materials that illustrate Dior’s history with Dallas in Dior: From Paris to the World, on view through September 1. Timed tickets are required for all visitors of the exhibition, which can be purchased in advance here.

Nicholas de Godoy Lopes is the McDermott Intern for Decorative Arts and Design at the DMA.


[1] Marihelen McDuff, Neiman-Marcus Award press release (Dallas: Neiman-Marcus, 1947), 1.
[2] Tenth Annual Fashion Exposition Show invitation (Dallas, Texas: Neiman-Marcus, 1947), 2.
[3] McDuff, Neiman-Marcus Award press release, 3.
[4] Alexandra Palmer, “Global Expansions and Licenses,” in Dior: A New Look, A New Enterprise, 1947-1957 (London: V&A Publishing, 2009), 78.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Katherine Dillard, “Christian Dior Says Fashion Will Stress Feminine Curves,” The Dallas Morning News, October 17, 1950.
[7] Palmer, “Global Expansions and Licenses,” 107; “Dior’s Paris Collection to Make Only U.S. Appearance in Dallas,” The Dallas Morning News, November 7, 1954.
[8] Anne Wright to Stanley Marcus, May 1, 1957; Neiman-Marcus, Neiman-Marcus Brings France to Texas: Everything from A to Z (Dallas: Neiman-Marcus, 1957), unpaginated.
[9] Stanley Marcus to Christian Dior, October 2, 1957.
[10] “For N-M Award: Shy Young Designing Genius Plans First Trip to America,” The Dallas Morning News, August 2, 1958.

 

Moving Day: Tamayo’s El Hombre Finds a New Home

After many years at the Museum’s Ross Avenue Entrance, Rufino Tamayo’s iconic mural El Hombre (Man) is returning to the Atrium, where it was first hung when the Museum’s Hamon Building opened in 1993.

Rufino Tamayo’s El Hombre (Man) being de-installed from the Ross Avenue entrance (left) and the rehanging in the DMA Atrium (right).

Rufino Tamayo’s El Hombre (Man) being de-installed from the Ross Avenue Entrance (left) and the rehanging in the  Atrium (right).

Tamayo, born of Zapotec heritage in Oaxaca, Mexico, was one of the most prominent Mexican artists of the mid-1900s, and a contemporary of Rivera, Siqueiros, and Orozco. His mural has long been viewed as one of the DMA’s most important works. The tumultuous story behind it, however, inspires further appreciation.

Rufino Tamayo

Rufino Tamayo at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, 1950s. Dallas Museum of Art Archives

Rufino Tamayo was a good friend of Stanley Marcus, then the president of the Dallas Art Association. In 1951, while on a trip to Amarillo, Tamayo and his wife, Olga, planned to drive to Dallas to visit the Marcus family, letting them know that they would arrive at 5:30 that evening. At 10:30 that night the Tamayos finally arrived, looking disheveled and disillusioned. When Marcus asked them about the delay, Tamayo told him about a car accident they were involved in, in which a local from Amarillo driving a pickup truck ran into them from behind. When the police arrived, it was determined that Tamayo was at fault for the accident, despite his claims and that the evidence suggested otherwise. Because of this unsettling experience, Tamayo told Marcus he would never produce art for the United States. By coincidence, Marcus had for some time wanted to secure Mexican art for the Museum to showcase the significant cultural contributions of the country’s artists, and he offered to commission a large-scale mural from Tamayo. Despite the Museum having only enough funds  to pay one-third the normal price of his work, Tamayo accepted the commission as “a real gift of the heart from Mr. Tamayo to the museum.” He chose to focus his subject on the aspirations and potential of mankind.

Tamayo painting El Hombre (Man)

Rufino Tamayo at work, 1950s. Dallas Museum of Art Archives

When Tamayo completed El Hombre in the summer of 1952, he briefly showed it in Mexico City before shipping it by train to Dallas. Months later, however, the painting still had not arrived at the Museum. The search for the missing mural went on for over a year, when finally the stationmaster from a train station on the Mexico-Texas border called Marcus to inform him that they had found a large package addressed to him. The boxcar that the package had been traveling in had been shunted off the track on a spur, and had been sitting out in the elements all year*. Fortunately, when the mural finally arrived in Dallas in September 1953, it was found to be in surprisingly good condition, and El Hombre was put in a place of honor so that every visitor to the Museum would see Tamayo’s depiction of Mexican culture.

El Hombre (Man), comprised of three panels, in transit to its new home.

El Hombre (Man), which comprises three panels, in transit to its new home.

DMA staff vacuuming the Atrium wall in preparation for Tamayo’s painting.

DMA staff vacuuming the Atrium wall in preparation for Tamayo’s painting.

This week, on its journey down the Concourse to the Atrium, Tamayo’s El Hombre traveled much more safely this time around. Be sure to stop by the Atrium on your next visit to see this iconic work for free.

El Hombre (Man) in the DMA Atrium

El Hombre (Man) in the DMA Atrium

* [update August 2017] The source of this story is an oral history with Stanley Marcus, interviewed by Director Jay Gates October 27, 1994. However, documentation of the arrival of El Hombre at the Museum shows that the painting was only delayed by three and a half weeks, likely by flooding in areas along the railway. El Hombre was shown in Mexico City in August 1953, shipped from Mexico on August 17, 1953 and arrived in Dallas on September 9, 1953.

Jasmine Shevell is the Exhibitions & Publications Intern at the DMA.

Wright in Your Own Backyard

This weekend the Museum will open Line and Form: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Wasmuth Portfolio, an exhibition drawn from a monograph of prints based on drawings produced by the architect and his studio that is widely recognized as one of the most important architectural publications of the 20th century. Having already gained prominence for a number of innovative residential projects in Chicago, Wright collaborated with a German printer in 1910 to create and distribute the portfolio to promote his work to a larger audience in the U.S. and abroad. The portfolio helped establish Frank Lloyd Wright’s reputation, and he went on to a long and prolific career as the century’s most iconic American architect.

As Frank Lloyd Wright’s reputation grew in the decades following the publication of the Wasmuth portfolio, the city of Dallas burgeoned as well; it is no wonder that Dallas’s civic and artistic leaders would look to the foremost American modernist architect to put his stamp on this growing, forward-thinking city.

In 1934 Stanley Marcus – the legendary Dallas stylemaker and retailer – and his wife began plans to build a house for their family in East Dallas, near White Rock Lake. As Mr. Marcus wrote in his autobiography, Minding the Store, the search began with architects based on the East Coast, as “modern architecture had not been discovered in Dallas up to that point.” After interviewing several prominent architects, the Marcuses met with Frank Lloyd Wright to seek his advice on potential candidates; Wright responded, “Why take the imitation while you can still get the original? I’ll do your house.” Unfortunately, the project was never completed with Wright’s designs; the notoriously temperamental architect was fired from the project, and the house was eventually completed by a Dallas-based architect, Roscoe DeWitt.

On Saturday I’m looking forward to attending the Legacies Dallas History Conference and especially to hearing Charles Marshall’s lecture When Frank Met Stanley: Frank Lloyd Wright and Stanley Marcus. Also, the Dallas chapter of the American Institute of Architects publishes a great quarterly publication entitled Columns; the Fall 2010 issue includes two articles about the Stanley Marcus house, which you can read online.

The original model for the Marcus House, as designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

The Marcus House in its final form, designed by Roscoe DeWitt

Despite a rather inauspicious start, Frank Lloyd Wright did receive several important commissions from Dallas clients throughout his career. Perhaps the most notable project to come to fruition was the Kalita Humphreys Theater, which served as the primary home for the Dallas Theater Center for fifty years – from 1959 until 2009, when the company moved to the Arts District and the new Wyly Theater. Although based on earlier, unrealized theatrical designs, the theater was considered to be very innovative, and it expressed the architect’s long and strongly held principles about integrating a building into context, or the “belief that architecture has an inherent relationship with both its site and its time.” The Kalita Humphreys Theater would become one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s last projects, as he passed away just months before its construction was complete. I enjoyed these interviews with members of the Dallas Theater Center company about working in a Frank Lloyd Wright building.

The plan of the Kalita Humphreys Theater. Image from the Hekman Digital Archive.

The Kalita Humphreys Theater

Take a closer look at Wright’s final project the next time you walk or ride on the Katy Trail along Turtle Creek, and explore his early masterpieces through selections of the Wasmuth portfolio, which will be on view at the DMA from January 30 until July 17, 2011.

Lisa Kays is Manager of Adult Programming at the Dallas Museum of Art.


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