In September, an array of press releases went out from Texas art organizations, each announcing recent acquisitions to their respective collections. Works ranging from digital photography, to large-scale sculpture, to Rococo paintings have found new homes at institutions from Marfa to Dallas.
Marfa Invitational, the annual art fair in Marfa that also possesses a five-acre, open-year-round sculpture park, celebrated the acquisition of Bangladesh-born/London-based artist Rana Begum’s massive No. 1193 Mesh (2023). A gift from Ms. Begum and her gallerist Christian Lethert of Köln, Germany, No. 1193 Mesh was unveiled as a fixture of the sculpture park and joins other contemporary works by Matt Johnson, Ethan Cook, Charles Harlan, Polly Borland, Myles Nurse, and Szabolcs Bozó. Begum’s piece is a series of colorful grids, arranged at angles and stacked atop each other in a way that creates a skeletal, irregular archway through which the desert landscape can be viewed. A press release from Marfa Invitational says she uses “industrial and ready-made materials” to construct her large works.
Rana Begum had her first solo exhibition at the Sainsbury Museum in Norwich, England, in 2017. That year she also won first place in the penultimate Abraaj Group Art Prize, which funded large projects at Art Dubai until the private equity group behind it was liquidated due to accusations of fraud. Begum has had public art commissions in the U.K. and Sweden.
In the press release, Marfa Invitational founder Michael Phelan said, “it is indeed my great pleasure and honor to welcome artist Rana Begum into our Marfa Invitational familia.”
Heading east to San Antonio, the contemporary art space Ruby City announced the acquisition of 18 prints by Mexican American conceptual multimedia artist Celia Álvarez Muñoz. The prints come from Muñoz’s 2002 series of digital photographs, Semejantes Personajes/Significant Personages. The portraits, made with a low-tech, analog Holga camera and then scanned and composited into film strips, depict San Antonio artists, in the language of a press release from Ruby City, “doing whatever they wished.” In the same press release, the artist is quoted:
I’ve always said that if you want to know Texas, one has to start in San Antonio! I came to know the artists of this city through projects that brought me here, and I found them to be a strong, informed, and politicized community, unlike any other in Texas. That’s why I wanted to do this project. [I] always saw it as one that the city would want as a keepsake to capture the moment which impressed me as a rich and thriving time in the arts with so many active artists across several generations. I started with a list of 21 that soon grew to 41 crossing many disciplines and committed practices. They obligingly, responded allowing me into their studios, or just socializing, to become part of an experiment of marrying a basic or low-tech film camera with the [at that time] new digital technology. [sic] I am thrilled that Ruby City, San Antonio’s contemporary arts signifier, responded to the project.
The works are tied to the history of San Antonio art in the early 21st century in many ways, having originally been made for a 2002 exhibit at the Contemporary at Blue Star (formerly Blue Star Contemporary). See Ruby City’s website for more details.
Meanwhile in Fort Worth, the Kimbell Art Museum announced its own major acquisition. The museum has a roughly 350-artwork collection, predominantly comprised of non-American works made before the mid-20th century. To those numbers it now adds British Rococo artist Thomas Gainsborough’s (1727-1788) oil painting Going To Market, Early Morning, (1773). “Long renowned as one of Gainsborough’s greatest paintings and a masterpiece of British art,” begins a press release from the Kimbell, the painting “situates a scene of contemporary social life within an exquisitely rendered landscape and demonstrates the artist’s mastery of light effects, color, composition, and fluent and varied brushwork.” In the work, a group of figures on horseback come up a hill and pass by a tree as a dog walks alongside.
The Kimbell acquired the painting at auction through Simon Dickson Ltd., London. Says the museum:
The picture has been written about extensively and remains open to interpretation. The woman with infants may be seen as either a beggar, ignored by the more fortunate peasants, or as an emblem of motherly love or charity, an allegory that would have resonated with Gainsborough, who was known to be charitable to those in difficult straits. The group of three men following the pair going to market fit contemporary descriptions of colliers carrying sacks of coal by pack pony from small coalfields through the hilly countryside. As the focus of attention, the young woman with auburn ringlets and a fine necklace might seem implausibly romanticized, but her appearance may reflect the contemporary practice of sellers at local markets adopting the latest fashions to attract customers. Through Gainsborough’s genius, the picturesque subjects and their setting are made both magical and monumental, surpassing earlier definitions of landscape.
As of September 28, the painting is on view. See the Kimbell’s website for more information.
Finally, Talley Dunn Gallery in Dallas announced the acquisition of Ursula von Rydingsvard’s KOCHAĆ (2019) by the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA). Ms. von Rydingsvard, who is German and has lived in New York for over 40 years, is well known for her towering abstract wood sculptures.
According to a press release from the DMA, KOCHAĆ gets its title from the Polish word for love. Says the museum:
Standing nearly eleven feet tall and composed entirely of cedar, KOCHAĆ reveals von Rydingsvard’s masterful handling of the organic material of cedar beams, which are painstakingly cut, stacked, and composed by hand into extraordinary sculptural compositions before a final rubbing of graphite patina into the work’s textured, faceted surfaces by the artist herself.
An image provided by the DMA shows the work on view in the museum’s permanent collection, rising above the guardrail of a foyer balcony.
Other institutions holding Ms. von Rydingsvard’s work in their collections include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Walker Art Center, Minnesota; the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Missouri; Storm King Art Center, New York; and the Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan. A similar piece by the artist to the work acquired by the DMA in on view in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s Kinder Building. A documentary on Ms. von Rydingsvard’s life’s work, Ursula von Rydingsvard: Into Her Own (dir. Daniel Traub) was released in 2019 and has occasionally been screened by Talley Dunn Gallery.
KOCHAĆ is currently on view. For more information on how to visit the Dallas Museum of Art, visit their website.