Would you like to go on a museum trip to the DMA? That is the question my son asked me when he let me know he and his girlfriend were coming to visit over Easter weekend.
The Dallas Museum of Art is referred to as the DMA. It is the first and largest Museum in Dallas, Texas. Organized in 1903, the museum has a large permanent collection but regularly bring in collections from all over the world. The main exhibit during Scott and Jenny’s visit was Cubism in Color: The Still Lifes of Juan Gris. I was excited about seeing it for historical reasons. The Cubist artist played an important role in art history.
Cubism in Color: The Still Lifes of Juan Gris
This exhibition covered Juan Gris’ entire career and the different periods of Cubism. He painted in the Synthetic Cubism style, experimented with trompe-l’oeil, collage, and Pointillist techniques. In his midyears his work evolved to what is called Classical Cubism. During that time, the colors Gris used were more somber, as he emphasized order and form. The later part of his life he returned to the more vibrant colors or his early work. His past experimentation and study is evident in these work.
Museums Allow Us to View Art Up Close
Even if you have not studied art history visiting a museum is an opportunity to explore new things. And everyone gets something different out of being exposed to art. I wanted to share more about what a trip to the museum is like and what my family and I enjoyed about our Saturday afternoon excursion. Sean my oldest son and Casie his significant other, joined us too.
Museums came into existence to make art accessible to everyone not just a wealthy few who could afford to purchase art and display it in their homes. The purpose of a museum is to expose people to art. Museums like the DMA coordinate with other museums and collectors to bring selections of art together for shows. The shows travel from museum to museum on tour, so to speak, so more people can experience the art.
For people like me, a student of art, it means work that I have studied in school is available for me to view in person. That is a thrill. What I struck me when I observed Juan Gris’ still lifes, was that they are more beautiful in person than I could imagine. I also was able to observe 40 paintings in this collection and saw detail in the work I had never seen before. It was wonderful. I have a broader appreciation for this man as an artist than I did before.
While observing his collage pieces, I was encouraged to see some resemblance of an idea I have for a new mixed media collage piece I am planning to do. I would say in general, I never leave a museum not inspired to create.
But I don’t like to go to museums alone. I am fortunate my sons like to go with me. I have always taken them to see art and that is probably why they feel comfortable going. People need an introduction to viewing art and I love being the person who invites them to experience art close up for the first time.
I have said this before, asking some one to tell you what their favorite piece of art is, something they have observed while viewing a show, helps connect a person to the artwork. Everyone can like something. Helping them articulate that is easy enough. They can do it without studying art or reading a book. They can just enjoy what they see and talk about it.
What is Your Favorite Work of Art?
I asked this question to everyone during our visit, what was your favorite piece of art? Below, are the photos of some of our favorite works. We saw more than the Cubist exhibition and we liked an array of different artwork. I think discussing what we experience makes the trip more interesting and helps us understand each other in a new way. Because I could see a real connection to what art a person liked and their interests and tastes. For example, Casie liked the For a Dreamer of Houses exhibition the best. She loves color and fun object are throughout her home. She also works in the real estate industry and is interested in affordable housing issues.
Jenny liked the houses too, but was also taken in by the exhibit My|gration. This exhibition presents different immigration movements in Dallas and the contributions to art immigrants have made. Jenny grew up in Mexico City and now resides in Austin.
Sean in the car, on the way home, went into great detail on how someone could construct cubism by incorporating layers of different perspectives of the same object. Then cutting parts of those perspectives out, exposing what was underneath to create a new viewpoint. He admitted it probably wasn’t how Juan Gris created his work, just how he would create a cubist work of art.
Improving the Way We Look at Exhibits
Scott contributed new guidelines for us to observe when we go to art shows. Beyond identifying what we like, we have decided to adopt Scott’s suggestion to read the large main plaques or captions in the exhibits to get the background of the work and help us put the art in context. He suggested we only read the side plaques when we are drawn into a work. There is so much to see and learn it can be overwhelming Jenny noted. This new guideline we think will help us not only put the art into context but to not get bogged down while we do so.
I agree, I think it is important to realize and acknowledge when a work of art moves us. Certain art speaks to us, it is good to know why.
What I Missed at the Crow Museum of Asian Art
The discussion of reading captions came up later that evening, because we all felt like there was more for us to discuss and process about the shows. I was looking at the website for another exhibition we visited that day at the Crow Museum of Asian Art. While looking at Divine Spark; an exhibit by Kana Harada. I was taken by the beauty of the art. I was soaking it in, but because I didn’t read the information about the works, I missed something very wonderful. The work was created during the pandemic and was about light in the darkness and the artist’s wishes for a “peaceful and bright future”. For me it was a vision of the light at the end of the tunnel of Covid.
I mentioned to Scott that I would have enjoyed those works even more if I had taken a minute or two to read the artist statement.
And my favorite work? One of Juan Gris’ painting of a still life in front of a lighted window, maybe for the same reason, a light at the end of this long season. But I didn’t understand that when I was in front of the painting, although I sensed the impact the work had on me.
As a family that day it was very much a celebration of the light at the end of the Covid tunnel. It was the first time we had visited a museum, art show or gallery since lock-down began. And we were very happy about being together, getting out and enjoying art upfront and personal.
I entered four pieces of art into the VALA (Visual Artist League of Allen) Collective Member Spring Show and had three watercolor pieces accepted. The show runs from April 14th through May 16th, 2021 at the The Blue House Too Gallery, 988 Village Green Drive, Allen, TX 75013. I will share more information about that next week in my newsletter and in two weeks in The Blog.
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Thank you for reading The Blog and as always, Be Inspired!
Cubism in Color: The Still Lifes of Juan Gris
For a Dreamer of Houses
Frida Kahlo: Five Works
The Crow Museum of Asian Art of The University of Texas at Dallas.
Connecting to Art – Art Story Three