Sorolla and America opens in Meadows Museum Dec. 13, 2013

Self-Portrait - Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (Spanish, 1863-1923), Self-Portrait, 1909, oil on canvas.
Self-Portrait, 1909, by Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (Spanish, 1863-1923), oil on canvas. Madrid, Museo Sorolla, 840.

SMU’s Meadows Museum is co-organizing the first retrospective of work by Joaquín Sorolla to focus on the impact the artist had in the United States.

Sorolla and America features nearly 160 works by the Spanish Impressionist, including several of his most iconic paintings, as well as works that were purchased during the artist’s lifetime and have never been exhibited publicly.

The exhibition opens Friday, Dec. 13 and will run through Saturday, April 19, 2014. It will then travel to the Meadows’ partners at The San Diego Museum of Art and Fundación MAPFRE, Madrid.

Sorolla was internationally acknowledged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as one of the foremost Spanish painters, and rose to acclaim in America following major exhibitions of his work in the United States in the early 20th century. Those exhibitions were organized with the help of Archer Milton Huntington, founder of The Hispanic Society of America, who became acquainted with Sorolla in London in 1908.

The public response to these exhibitions was unprecedented; the first exhibition Huntington arranged in New York in 1909 drew more than 150,000 visitors in one month. Later that year, that same exhibition traveled to Buffalo to the museum now known as the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and to the Copley Society of Art in Boston. It also inspired a second exhibition, which traveled in 1911 to the Art Institute of Chicago and St. Louis Art Museum.

The enthusiastic reception of Sorolla’s work led to a series of portrait commissions for the artist from notable Americans including President William Howard Taft and Louis Comfort Tiffany. Because those commissions and a large portion of the work Sorolla produced for the American exhibitions quickly entered private collections, much of it has gone undocumented.

Blanca Pons-Sorolla – great-granddaughter of the artist and guest curator of Sorolla and America – has worked for decades to locate these paintings and portraits. The exhibition will feature more than 100 works that have not been publicly exhibited since they were presented in the U.S. during Sorolla’s lifetime, including more than 40 works that will be publicly displayed for the first time. Together, the works offer an exceptional insight into how Sorolla inspired, and was inspired by, America.

“The Meadows Museum is uniquely well suited to present the first exhibition examining the reciprocal influence Sorolla had on America and America had on Sorolla,” said Mark Roglán, the Linda P. and William A. Custard Director of the Meadows Museum and Centennial Chair in the Meadows School of the Arts. “The research Blanca Pons-Sorolla has done to uncover works that have survived in private homes, coupled with our own collection of Sorolla works, will allow us to present the pivotal artist in a way no one has seen him in the last century.”

Louis Comfort Tiffany - Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (Spanish, 1863-1923), Portrait of Louis Comfort Tiffany, 1911, oil on canvas. The Hispanic Society of America, A3182
Portrait of Louis Comfort Tiffany, 1911, by Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (Spanish, 1863-1923), oil on canvas. The Hispanic Society of America, A3182.

Each work in the exhibition was either created in America, exhibited in America, or sold in America during Sorolla’s lifetime. The show features works from many notable U.S. collections, including The Hispanic Society of America, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the private collection of the U.S. Department of State — as well as five Sorolla works from the Meadows’ collection. In addition to American loans, works from Mexico, Spain and other European countries will complete the exhibition.

Highlights include:

  • Another Marguerite! (¡Otra Margarita!), 1892, a monumental canvas depicting a young woman accused of suffocating her child. Sorolla submitted the work to the World’s Columbian Exhibition in Chicago in 1893, where the painting received a Medal of Honor. This was the first work by Sorolla to enter an American museum (Washington University in St. Louis – now the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum).
  • Sad Inheritance (¡Triste herencia!), 1899, one of Sorolla’s most iconic works, which earned the highest awards at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1900 and Spain’s National Exhibition in 1901. Together with Another Marguerite!, it set the stage for his introduction to the American patrons who would eventually bring his work to the United States.
  • Valencia Beach: Morning Light, 1908, originally on view at The Hispanic Society of America in 1909 and later purchased by the institution. Sorolla’s beach views were all painted in situ, and he received numerous accolades in the press and in scholarly articles for his technique.
  • Portrait of William Howard Taft, President of the United States of America (El Presidente de los Estados Unidos William Howard Taft), 1909, the first portrait ever painted of the 27th President of the United States.
  • Portrait of Louis Comfort Tiffany, 1911, painted in the gardens at Tiffany’s country estate on Long Island just days before Sorolla departed America.
  • A series of nearly two dozen casual sketches Sorolla made on the backs of paper menus while he was in New York City and Chicago, revealing his interest in the residents of those cities.
  • Christopher Columbus Leaving Palos, Spain, 1910, one of the largest and most important commissions by business magnate Thomas Fortune Ryan; Sorolla traveled to Spain to research the subject and based the portrait on one of Columbus’ descendants.

The 320-page catalogue for Sorolla and America published by Ediciones El Viso will, for the first time, include a complete list of all works exhibited, created and sold in America during the artist’s lifetime, including works that have yet to be located. The catalog will be edited by Blanca Pons-Sorolla and Mark Roglán and will include essays by M. Elizabeth Boone (University of Alberta), Mitchell Codding (The Hispanic Society of America), Maria López Fernández (Fundación MAPFRE), David Ruiz López (Museo Sorolla), Roxana Velásquez (The San Diego Museum of Art).

The exhibition has been organized by the Meadows Museum, The San Diego Museum of Art, and Fundación MAPFRE. The contributions of The Hispanic Society of America have been crucial to the success of this exhibition. A gift from The Meadows Foundation has made this project possible.

> Read the full story at SMU News

The Trains at NorthPark honors Dallas Hall’s 100th birthday in 2012

Dallas Hall in The Trains at NorthPark
Dallas Hall, with an SMU Centennial flag on the dome and a vintage Mustang coupe at the front steps, celebrates its 100th birthday as a highlight of The Trains at NorthPark’s 2012 exhibition. Photo: Kim Ritzenthaler.

Each holiday season, more than 80,000 people visit Dallas’ NorthPark Center to see the most elaborate toy train exhibit in Texas. And in 2012, the scale locomotives – including an SMU railcar – roll past Dallas Hall in honor of the historic landmark’s 100th birthday.

The Trains at NorthPark celebrates its 25th anniversary supporting the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas and its 14th year at NorthPark Center in 2012. The exhibit encompasses 1,600 feet of track and more than 4,000 square feet of train-themed environments, with all the trimmings of the holiday train travel experience: steam engine and coach cars, a ticket booth and a train station.

This holiday season, SMU’s iconic oldest building joins a Dallas cityscape that includes the downtown skyline, the new Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, the State Fair of Texas and the Cotton Bowl. Dallas Hall’s presence in the exhibit was made possible by the SMU Centennial Host Committee.

The miniature journey across America also includes New York City’s Times Square and Grand Central Station; the White House in Washington, D.C.; New England fall foliage; Albuquerque’s hot-air balloon festival; the Grand Canyon; Route 66; San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and many other sights and highlights.

The Dallas Hall centennial plaque at SMU
The plaque placed at Dallas Hall during its 100th birthday celebration commends “those visionary donors and leaders who created the crowning symbol of SMU.” Photo: Hillsman S. Jackson

The University marked Dallas Hall’s centennial in November with the placement of a plaque commemorating its 100 years as SMU’s center and focal point. The plaque is located next to the building’s southwest door, near the cornerstone laid by the University’s founders on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28, 1912.

> SMU News: Happy 100th Birthday to Dallas Hall

Since 1987 The Trains at NorthPark has raised money for children and families served by the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas. Currently this annual fundraiser provides the funds for almost one-third of the organization’s annual operating budget.

The Trains at NorthPark is located on the 2nd level of NorthPark Center, next to Barneys New York.

Tickets are $6 for adults and $3 for children and seniors. The trains run through Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013.

Visit YouTube for a video of The Trains at NorthPark’s 2011 exhibit
> Check out more photos at the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas gallery

Calendar Highlights: Sept. 6, 2012

A Taste of Tango: Break out your dancing shoes and join the Meadows Wind Ensemble for “A Night in Buenos Aires: A Celebration of Tango.” The program features numerous tango performances that are sure to dazzle and inspire you – and even includes works by Igor Stravinsky and John Phillip Sousa! The performance begins at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7 in Caruth Auditorium. Admission is $7 for students, faculty and staff. For more information, call 214-768-2787 (214-SMU-ARTS).

Back to the Boulevard: The Mustangs’ first home game of the season is at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8. We are up against Stephen F. Austin and hope to see everyone in white supporting our team. Pony up!

Jammin’ in the Atrium: Starting Sept. 12 you can add zest to your Wednesday lunch hour and join the Meadows World Music Ensemble for a jam session. The sessions start at noon in the Taubman Atrium, Owen Arts Center, and feature art and music from various cultures.

Annual archaeology lecture: Jeremy Sabloff, president of the Santa Fe Institute, gives the 2012 Fred Wendorf Distinguished Lecture in Archaeology at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13. Sabloff will discuss the development of Maya hieroglyphic texts and other exciting advancements of study in “Settlement Pattern Studies and the Emergence of the Current Model of Ancient Maya Civilization.” The lecture takes place in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall. (Left, Jeremy Sabloff, photo courtesy of the Santa Fe Institute.)

Spanish art influence: This semester the Meadows Museum of Art will host the exhibit: “Diego Velazquez: The Early Court Portraits.” Velazquez was the leading artist in the court of King Philip IV and had large influence over the portraiture of the period. In the Meadows Museum from 3-6 p.m. on Thursday, Sep. 13 a free symposium, featuring three guest speakers, will take place. The exhibit will open the following Sunday, Sep. 16, 2012 and run through Jan. 13, 2013.

The Opera Stars of SMU: The opening showcase of the 2012-13 Opera Free For All series begins at 1 p.m Friday, Sept. 14 in the Bob Hope Lobby of the Owen Arts Center. The showcase will feature 60-second arias by Meadows Opera Theatre Ensemble members. Performers will strategically use their allotted time to stand out and make a lasting impression.

Latin Spice: Latin American Heritage Month begins Sept. 15, 2012. President Lyndon Johnson first introduced this month-long celebration of Latin history and culture; Sept. 15 was chosen as the start date because on that day in 1821, five Latin American countries gained independence. During this month we recognize and appreciate the accomplishments of the Latin American community.

Meadows Museum exhibit uses 3-D imagery to explore Chinese cave temples

Standing AvalokiteshvaraA new exhibit at SMU’s Meadows Museum is using 3-D technology to virtually restore a majestic sixth-century Chinese Buddhist cave temple.

Echoes of the Past: The Buddhist Cave Temples of Xiangtangshan, which runs through Jan. 8, 2012, includes a video immersion into one of the largest stone temples carved into the mountains of northern China. The exhibit also includes ancient sculptural masterpieces from the caves.

The 11 Buddhist cave temples in China’s Hebei Province represent the most significant artistic achievement of the short-lived Northern Qi dynasty (550-577). The manmade caves of Xiangtangshan (prounounced shahng-tahng-shahn) once featured large-scale Buddhas, divine attendant figures and crouching monsters carved into the cave walls and sculpted from quarried stone that was set into place.

When the remote caves were rediscovered in the early 20th century, however, many of the sculptures and carvings had been removed and sold to dealers, collectors and museums. This exhibit, compiled from collections around the world, represents the first time the sculptures and carvings have been exhibited together.

An additional 100 items from the caves, now in institutions and collections worldwide, have been digitally captured with hundreds of overlapping scans to create the life-sized virtual cave that is the centerpiece of the exhibit. Through video and still images, visitors will see the sculptures as they once appeared in their original locations inside the caves.

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> Find high-resolution photos at the SMU News homepage

(Right, the exhibit includes this sixth-century Standing Avalokiteshvara from the Buddhist cave temples of Xiangtangshan, China. The limestone sculpture with lacquer-like coating is on loan from the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.)

New exhibits to feature abstract painter Mark Williams

The Mark Williams painting 'Choice,' 2006SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts opens two exhibits Sept. 13 featuring the work of abstract painter Mark Williams, whose works have been shown throughout the United States and countries including Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Sweden and Brazil.

The main exhibit, “Exquisitely Calibrated: Recent Paintings by Mark Williams” in the Pollock Gallery at Hughes-Trigg Student Center, will feature a selection of Williams’ geometrically abstract paintings. Williams’ acrylic- and enamel-based paintings focus on a clash of vertical and horizontal objects, often portrayed in muted colors and in seemingly random variations.

Pollock Gallery Director Philip Van Keuren writes for the exhibition catalogue “Mark Williams: Pure Clear Word”: “Williams’ paintings are characterized by sensitivity to the actual appearance of things on the panel and, more precisely, to color-form relationship combinations. He calibrates these combinations tirelessly, realizing there can only be solutions, never conclusions.”

A complementary exhibit, ““Mark Williams: Small Drawings and Studio Notebooks,” will be open for public view in the Mildred Hawn Gallery (located inside Meadows’ Hamon Arts Library). This addition features many of Williams’ small drawings and studio sketchbooks from his New York studio, showing examples of his method and process used to “construct” his larger pieces.

Williams, a Pittsburgh native born in 1950, has had previous ties to the Metroplex as he received a B.F.A. in art education and an M.F.A. in painting and sculpture at the University of North Texas. Williams has received two National Endowment for the Arts grants (1980 and 1989) among numerous other awards and grants and recently gave a guest lecture at the 2007 SMU-in-Taos summer term.

The Pollock exhibit will be open from 11-5 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and from 1-5 p.m. on Saturday until Oct. 16. The Hawn exhibit will be around a bit longer as it will operate under regular Hamon library hours until Dec. 4.

(Above, Choice by Mark Williams, 2006.)