Dallas Day One

I’m in DFW for a few days, and it may be summertime, but the energy is good. Here’s what I’m seeing:

Day One: (most of the) Museums 

1. The Nasher

I visited with acting chief curator Jed Morse talked about the Nasher Sculpture Center‘s plans after a rough year during which director Steve Nash departed weeks after the founder’s unexpected death. The Nasher and Fort Worth’s Kimbell (see below) are sometimes somewhat off my radar, partially because they don’t explicitly focus on contemporary; partly because I sometimes don’t seem to hear much from them; and partly (well, mostly) because of my own sloth and ignorance.

So the Nasher is getting its feet back underneath itself, hoping to announce a new director by the end of the year and looking forward to celebrating its 5th (gasp) anniversary this October. They’re going to reinstall the collection looking at some of the founders’ personal stories behind the collection, and they’ll have a panel with some of the artists and people who knew Ray and Patsy Nasher.

The really exciting news is a show planned for ’09 of Jaume Plensa (who did the Crown Fountain in Chicago’s Millennium Park). The show’s being put together by the Institut Valencia d’art Modern (IVAM), and it should be a knockout, and a real departure for the Nasher from what I always associate, perhaps unfairly, with them: staid, solid Modernism. They’re also planning a Norman Foster show in conjunction with the opening of the new opera house in fall ’09.

I asked Morse about acquisitions, and got the sense that Ray Nasher’s unexpected death threw everybody for a loop, and that the endowment post-probate needed to be resolved (as well as a new director hired) before they get seriously back in the game of adding to the collection. In the meantime they’ve been given a generous collection of sculptures and drawings from the Jacques Lipchitz estate, which was on view in the downstairs gallery — more staid, solid Modernism, but a nice opportunity for them to show plaster models next to bronze casts. I still think the best Lipchitz in their collection is the original one: a 1916 Cubist Seated Woman in stone.



This view seems more cluttered in the photo than it did in real life

 



 Lipchitz’s Seated Woman, from 1916

 



One of the Lipchitz gifts, a plaster model for the monumental bronze The Spirit of Enterprise, in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park

 



Shrug it, Atlas, SHRUG IT!!!
This John Storrs from 1927 (called Study in Architectural Forms) looks great downstairs.

 

2. Fort Worth Modern

The Kara Walker show has been discussed pretty extensively by our blogger Titus O’Brien already, so I’ll just add that Walker makes her point elegantly and humorously, but the profusion of silhouettes in this show — literally room after room of them — blunts their effectiveness. It’s a huge show. After wandering around upstairs, I happened upon one of those spaces on the backside of the galleries that jut out into the Modern’s lake. I’d missed this room before and liked Walker’s collages hanging there. I wish they’d been placed more prominently.

Speaking of the upstairs, MAMFW does a better job than other Texas museums with integrating TX artists into their other stuff. I always wonder why our museums can’t be like LA museums and really collect and show local artists. (The answer, of course, is that we all have little insecurities and weirdnesses about the region we live in, even if only subconsciously.) But it would behoove trustees, who are often collectors of local work, to push our museums to be more original. Anyway. The works by Texans in the collection are pretty well known: Erick Swensen’s lamb being attacked by a vampire cape; Vernon Fisher’s paintings; pieces by Ann Stautberg, Melissa Miller, and of course Joe Havel, all of which were on display. I didn’t see anything new, and asked director Marla Price whether the Modern is continuing to collect Texan. She said yes, definitely, and commented that the old museum acquisition dollar doesn’t stretch in today’s market the way it used to.

 



A Kara Walker collage — apologies for the horrible snapshot; I had to take it from a weird angle to avoid major glare…

 



Gorgeous marriage of artwork and site: Motherwell’s Untitled, In Memory of Mark Rothko, in the "silo" gallery, where Martin Puryear’s ladder looked so good. 

 



For the first time, I sort of got the Sean Scully room. It is very beautiful. I’m still not totally convinced, but it’s possible that Michael Auping knew what he was doing with this…

 



Cheek by jowl: Erick Swensen’s untitled next to a nice Ruscha. TAKE NOTE, OTHER TEXAS MUSEUMS.

 



Ouch: horrible "Barnett Shale Boom" construction has seriously marred the view of the lake and Roxy Paine sculpture.

 

3. The Kimbell

Silly me, I had forgotten the Kimbell has their blockbuster show of Impressionism/Post-Impressionism from the Chicago Art Institute up. Quite a crowd for a Tuesday afternoon. So this show reinforces the consensus that Renoir pretty much sucks, that Manet is a badass, and that Monet, damn him, is so, so good, coffee mugs and mouse pads out the wazoo or no.

The big news, which I reported in yesterday’s newswire, is the announcement that the Kimbell is considering siting their planned addition by Renzo Piano on the front lawn, in front of the Louis Kahn building. I asked the Kimbell folk if this weren’t a planned leak to start getting the public used to the idea, but they strenuously denied it — they had been taking soil samples out front, and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram got wind of it, they said. (If you want some entertainment, read the comments posted on FWS-T’s site. My personal favorite: "On the bright side, at least they’re not proposing to put a gas well there.")        

 (all these images are works in the collection of the Chicago Art Institute)



In the spirit of fashion blog Go Fug Yourself, here is what I like to imagine Manet thinking when he painted this still life in 1864: "Yeahhh! Woooo! 1864, baby!!! I am so far ahead of the curve that it has straightened out, so SUCK IT, BITCHES!!!!!"
Click here for painting info

 

Monet:



Click here for painting info

 

…and Monet:



Click here for painting info

 

…and again, Monet:



…really hard to argue with that.
Click here for painting info

 



Van Gogh, awesome. Nice frame, too.
Click here for painting info

 



Love the ox tongue in Caillebotte’s pretty masterpiece (apologies for that spot of glare)
Click here for painting info

 



Will this view be no more?

 



…or this???

 

4. The Amon Carter

I was lucky enough to meet with Jessica May, the assistant curator of photography, who is bringing a Mary Lucier video installation to the AC this fall — the first ever in the AC’s history. The show has been on the Glasstire radar as something potentially great this fall.

May also told me SMU’s gotten a new media prof from Yale — as I type it’s too early to get someone over there for the name, but I’ll track it down. Seems like there’s lots of video/new media energy in DFW: this new person at SMU; the Lone Star Film Society, run by Dennis Bishop; the Dallas Video Festival, which this year apparently had more on the art side, thanks to Carolyn Sortor…of course, Paul Slocum, who runs and/or Gallery; and Max Kazemzadeh at UTD.  

Back to the Amon Carter: I asked May about photography acquisitions, and she said they’re actively collecting. Also of note was the main hallway leading from the front of the building to the back. This hall has always been lined with Remingtons and Russells — but on this trip, they had a nice display of Louise Nevelson prints up. That’s a first. I’m feeling more energy from the Amon Carter, the acknowledged sleeper museum of the Metroplex.

 

 

also by Rainey Knudson

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9 responses to “Dallas Day One”

  1. “They’re going to reinstall the collection looking at some of the founders’ personal stories behind the collection, and they’ll have a panel with some of the artists and people who knew Ray Nasher (and who still know his wife Patsy). “
    Patsy Nasher died in 1988.

  2. Whoops!

  3. your take on the classics is, uhhh… interesting. you just don’t hear “renoir sucks” that much in reviews these days.

  4. Renoir does suck.

  5. but you hate monet too.

  6. You talking to me? No, no: I *want* to hate Monet, maybe in the same jealous, petty way that I want to hate Sofia Coppola because she’s so gamine and chic and everyone thinks she’s cool even though her movies are boring…I want to hate Monet because surely all those aforementioned coffee mugs and tote bags can’t be right. But he’s so good. So, so good. So my desire for hatred is thwarted and I just stand in awe.

    Maybe that didn’t translate.

  7. nah, was responding to david O’s thoughtful analysis. he’s complained to me about monet in the past. apologies for turning your blog into a call and response.

    i think awe is an appropriate reaction when confronted with a monet in the flesh. totebags be damned!

  8. Rainey do you mean you want to hate Sofia Coppola or you do hate Sofia Coppola? I mean I totally agree with you, couldn’t deal with that Japanese thing she did at all. There is a slice of skin that never sees the prison, isn’t that the story of Krishna or something like that? Have you tried Sofia’s bottled wine? Is the ‘path’ to understanding kindled with fluorescent tubing? I haven’t even seen Marie Antoinette because of that, the aforementioned skill level. It did translate.

  9. The Marie Antoinette film, which I found not only boring but frankly repugnant, was really what set me off. I find Coppola’s touch to be so light as to be utterly without content — there’s nothing there to hold on to, and I have never cared about a single character in one of her films. As for Lost in Translation, a friend of mine who is a manga editor for Dark Horse Comics put it best: if these people can’t be happy at the Park Hyatt Tokyo, they don’t deserve to live.

    I *do* envy her personal style, however.

    Love the canned champagne, too.

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