To celebrate the start of a 4-day Memorial Day weekend, my daughter and I decided to take a trip down to the Dallas Museum of Art on Friday to spend a few hours. I haven’t been there in probably ten or more years and even in all the decades I’ve lived in Dallas, I’ve only been there maybe five times. I am definitely one of those people that give credence to the axiom that people who live near well-known sites never go to visit them.
I found that a lot has changed since my last visit. Much of their collection was new (to me), but also some of my old friends were still there, such as Church’s “Iceburgs” (see below). It was a wonderful visit and I highly recommend a visit to anyone who finds themselves in Dallas with a few hours or a day to spare.
Below are some of the pictures I took while I was there. I took well over a hundred photos and there were thousands of things I didn’t take photos of, but these are my favorites. I apologize for the poor quality. Flash photography is not allowed and so I had to do the best I could without a flash and with a camera that I’m still not familiar with.
Space Motive – A New Jersey Valley (Wharton)
I really like the clean lines and lush coloring in this painting. Bluemner used color for emotional expression rather than literal renderings, and that really comes through in this painting.
Demuth blended common renderings of everyday objects with cubist aspects. I’m not a big fan of cubism, but, as he kept the cubist elements to a minimum, using them as accents rather than making them the star of the picture, I like what he’s done here. The painting as a draftsman-like quality to it and, like the Bluemner above, I like the evocative colors and clean lines of the painting.
What’s not to like about an Edward Hopper painting? I love how the strong contrasts between light and shadow capture a very specific moment in time. The sun, though we don’t know if it is rising or setting, is in a very specific place in the heavens. It may be telling us the day is young and rife with possibilities, or calling us home for dinner and warning us that it will soon be dark. But even if it is telling us that darkness will be coming soon, the lighthouse itself strips the darkness of any real power over us.
Drouth Stricken Area
I live in Texas and drought is just a way of life here. Hogue has captured this perfectly. Brown is the color of summer here. The vulture, while here perhaps symbolizing death, to me represents the trepidation that people in drought-prone areas live with constantly. Whether it is raining or sunny, we live with the ever-present dread of each rain shower perhaps being our last for a while.
Thomas Hart Benton
I just enjoyed the imagery of this painting. While in the Biblical story the prodigal son returns home after living a life of excess and debauchery and was welcomed with open arms and lavished with all manner of gifts and honors, the artist returned from living in New York to his home in Missouri to find things bleak and dour. Such was life in the south during the depression. The pain and surprise of Benton’s realization is obvious in this painting. Even the clouds have a kind of sinister, predator-like look to them.
Winter Scene in Brooklyn
I just liked this painting. Not sure why.
I only have momentary and fleeting interest in abstract art. This one caught my eye and it was interesting for a minute or two, but it is ultimately forgettable and looks like something that would be hanging in the reception area of a corporation. I do like that this painting has depth (as in the cylinder-like shapes and the ribbing in the elements), and is not just random swirls of pattern and color.
I’m not a huge Pollock fan. I feel his work is mostly a deliberate mocking of the pretentiousness of the art world (and maybe rightly so). The art world, however, doesn’t seem to get the joke.
I’m not saying I could do what he does (I probably couldn’t), but I also don’t think I could gaze upon his work for any length of time with anything approaching enjoyment. But since this was the closest I’ve ever been to one of his paintings, I decided to take a picture of it.
Though this is a cubist work, I also feel it has certain art deco elements. Art deco is my absolute favorite art style, bar none. I also find myself drawn to pop advertising art for some reason. I guess that is just the very root of advertising art. It is a deliberate play for our attentions. This one succeeds on that account, though it is not an advertisement per se.
As an engineer, I was immediately drawn to this work. I love intricacy and detail in art, and it is here in abundance. I also drawings that have a mechanical drawing vibe to them. I like artwork that has a schematic diagram feel to them. This is a beautiful combination of all that, plus contrasting symmetry and non-symmetry.
It is also a surprisingly large work (78 square inches or about 2 square meters), which I thought was a contrast in itself: a giant depiction of a tiny watch mechanism.
Nature or Abundance
Seasickness on an English Corvette
I love well-done comic scenes that contain a great amount of detail.
Frederic Edwin Church
This is my favorite painting at the DMA and has been ever since I saw it a few decades ago. This picture of it does not do it justice. It is a huge painting. Its framed dimensions are 85 x 133 x 5 inches (2.16 m x 3.37 m x 12.7 cm) and weighs a whopping 426 pounds (193 kg). The DMA used to have it in its own separate room with viewing benches in front of it. They also used to have special lighting on it to enhance the eerie green glow of the ice. Now, however, it is just hanging on a wall in a huge gallery with other paintings. But I still love this painting. It is gorgeous and haunting all at once. I could feel the isolation of the scene and the tragedy that no doubt happened here a long, long time ago.
John Singer Sargent
Just thought I’d toss in a famous painting.
The Seine at Lavacourt
Monet is my favorite impressionist of all time. His paintings always fill me with serenity and peace and a desire to go back in time and view the scenes that he was painting. Things always seem so placid in his paintings.
One of Monet’s water lily paintings. It was so odd to be able to get within inches of this (or any) famous painting. One would think that they would cordon it off with velvet theater ropes or something.
Mountain Landscape with Approaching Storm
Another one of my old favorites from the DMA. Vernet beautifully captures an approaching storm.
And thus concludes my day-trip to the Dallas Museum of Art. It was a wonderful day and the museum, while not the Louvre or the Metropolitan Museum, has a lot of very interesting items in it.
Also, it is the only museum I know with a sense of humor!