Musings from the Meadows Curatorial Intern

Painting by Joaquín Sorolla, "Farm-House, Alcira," 1903

Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (Spanish, 1863-1923), “Farm-House, Alcira,” 1903. Oil on canvas. Meadows Museum, SMU, Dallas. Meadows Museum Purchase and Partial
Gift from Alan B. Coleman and Janet M. Coleman, MM.2012.03.

Courtesy of the Meadows Museum 2013-2014 William B. Jordan Curatorial Intern, Lauren Graves

Among the many recently acquired works at the Meadows Museum are five paintings from the Coleman collection. One of these works is Farm-house, Alcira, 1903, by Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (1863-1923), one of the most highly regarded and influential Spanish painters. This is currently the earliest painting by Sorolla that the Meadows Museum has under its roof, but soon the Sorolla and America exhibition will allow viewers to experience even more of Sorolla’s work in depth. The exhibition, opening this month, will showcase Sorolla’s fascinating relationship with the United States through his early twentieth-century paintings for the first time. As a curatorial intern at the Museum, watching the Meadows Museum staff prepare for the exhibition has been very intriguing and a great learning experience. It is an exciting opportunity to see the exhibition come to life after all of the planning and hard work that it has entailed.

This fall, Farm-house, Alcira resided in a gallery devoted to the new acquisitions from the Coleman collection. The calm blue-grey hue of the room enhances the lush green colors of the foliage in the work and brings out the oranges filling the greenery. This painting immediately caught my eye in the gallery because of its alluring shades of green and beautiful application of color. The plentiful orchard landscape depicted is located in the city of Alcira as the title suggests, situated 23 miles south of Valencia. Sorolla painted various scenes of fruit farms from regions of Valencia, but this work is one of the most praised.

The painting almost seems to be separated into two halves: the orange groves on the left and the porch of the farm house on the right, with part of the orange grove organically invading the far right side of the porch. The porch’s white beams, which are seemingly illuminated by the sun, cause the ripe oranges to radiate from the canvas. The work is very painterly and is constructed from loose brushstrokes reminiscent of French Impressionism. The porch extends away from the viewer to the right and the vantage point makes the viewer feel as if he is standing on an extension of the patio overlooking the beautiful orange grove for which the region is famous. The viewer is invited into the picture plane to experience the magnificent, yet humble, landscape. The brushstrokes and colors that create the shading on the floor of the porch, executed en plein air, appear almost in wave-like strokes, which give the appearance of the shadows coming down from the wooden beams up above. The coral shades and shadowy browns on the porch bring even more emphasis to the oranges. The transition from greenery to light blue sky is eased by the mauve and white rooftop and tree-like outline in the distance. The groves are filled with numerous shades of green and even an almost turquoise color that creates harmony with the blue sky. As the crisply painted oranges are naturally integrated throughout the orchard, the viewer’s eye is led around the work taking in the beauty of nature.

This winter, as part of the Sorolla and America exhibition, Farm-House, Alcira will be grouped in a gallery filled with other lush landscape and garden scenes, such as Asturian Landscape (Paisaje asturiano), Rose-Bay Road, Valencia, and Garden, Alcázar, Seville (from Brooklyn Museum, a private collection, and Museo Franz Mayer, respectively), just to name a few. The exhibition will encompass over one hundred and fifty works by the artist, including beach scenes, landscapes, portraits, sketches and more. These works are being lent from private collections as well as many significant institutions, which adds to the exhibition’s variety and diverse collection. All of the works included come together to display Sorolla’s undeniable talent and fondness for America. The exhibition opens at the Meadows Museum on December 13, 2013 and will close on April 19, 2014. The exhibition will continue on to the San Diego Museum of Art and the FUNDACIÓN MAPFRE in Madrid.

Sorolla and America is the first exhibition of its kind to delve into Sorolla’s relationship with the United States and will surely be an extremely unique, as well as enlightening experience for the viewer. Come and see Sorolla and America in person to fully experience this praised painter’s connection to America before the exhibition travels to San Diego!

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Summer Musings from the Meadows Curatorial Intern

Courtesy of one of our summer interns, Ailie Pankonien:

Throughout this summer the Meadows Museum has hosted the exhibition, “Modern Mexican Painting from the Andrés Blaisten Collection.” There is a range of subject matter on view, from landscapes, portraits, and still lifes to abstract and surrealistic scenes, woven together by the shared exploration of Mexican national identity in the modern, post-Revolution era.

As an intern here at the Meadows for the last couple months, I have had the opportunity to see the exhibition more than once. With each procession through the galleries I notice something new, but upon each visit I am also drawn to the same few paintings, each time more transfixed than the last. One such piece is the large-scale oil painting Collecting Flowers (Recolección de flores), by Alfonso X. Peña. Across a large canvas, over three by five feet in size, figures work in a lush forest-like landscape. In the foreground a man and woman gather flowers as two fabric-draped and flower-laden women walk into the receding landscape in the background. The scene is portrayed in sumptuous jewel tones, figures and flora formed by patterns of layered brushstrokes. One of the things that first attracted me to this painting was the colors: rich blue-greens, purples, teals, browns, and especially the female figure’s bright coral, pink and blue clothing.

Although the colorfully rendered figures and scenery are modeled, each shape and fold of fabric also appears to be outlined, and the effect this has is flattening. There is a graphic quality to Collecting Flowers, perhaps influenced by X. Peña’s early start as a cartoonist for a periodical in Tamaulipas, where he grew up. It is as though the painting is constructed from layer upon layer, like a pop-up book. In the background two women walk, surrounded by nature, positioned behind planes of hills, leaves, and a cluster of huge calla lilies. A tree trunk curves behind the man and woman working in the foreground, and the entire scene is framed on either side by trees, purple flowers, and large green leaf faces.

Peña spent his twenties in New York with a group of Mexican modernist artists, including Rufino Tamayo, whose work is also on view in this exhibition. During his career Peña painted murals and exhibited paintings in Mexico, the United States, and across Europe. Like other artists in “Modern Mexican Painting from the Andrés Blaisten Collection,” he seems to have applied modern influences from Mexico and overseas toward a dialogue with his own sense of cultural identity. Other paintings by Peña in the Andrés Blaisten Collection, such as Mercado (Market), on display in the same gallery at the Meadows, are focused on simple scenes of daily life and work, often with small details that help to situate the figures in Mexico.

Collecting Flowers is a romanticized story of Mexican people working in a beautiful, rural Mexican landscape. It is certainly enchanting. The natural space the figures occupy appears magical to me – quiet and softly shaded by immense trees, far away from the modern city. Everything in this place is organic and curvilinear, and the leaves and flowers all seem oversized, perhaps an emphasis on the special nature of their surroundings. It is fantastical, and yet not unreal, as trees and calla lilies truly can be that strikingly large. Peña thus presents an idealized yet still realistic picture of Mexico.

Of course, this painting is only one of eighty in “Modern Mexican Painting from the Andrés Blaisten Collection” at the Meadows Museum, and it will not be on view much longer. The chance to see this and other answers to questions of national identity in the first half of the twentieth century ends on August 12.

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The Art of Being a Foodie

Museums are not just for art anymore.  They have become centers for social interaction, fabulous events, retail therapy and my personal favorite, fine food and wine.  The Meadows is no exception to this trend, hosting exhibition previews with delectable hors d’oeuvres, desserts and specially selected wine.  We have also hosted private, five-course dinner events with area chefs that sold out in record time.

Last month we presented a special tasting of wines from La Mancha which celebrated the closing of the tapestry exhibition.  An exclusive seminar was led by renowned wine expert and educator Michael Green, followed by a grand tasting of D.O. La Mancha wines from 15 wineries from around the region.  Free to members, this was a fabulous way to spend a Saturday afternoon.  Guests mingled and munched on regional cheeses and meats as they sipped and soaked in the ambiance.  Everything from “knock your socks off” Syrah to delicious dessert wines made it difficult for revelers to depart.

Yes, as the Membership Manager, I must point out that these sort of events have to be some of the best entertainment values in town!  Also, after so many wonderful “foodie experiences” here at the Meadows I have to wonder, does the gorgeous backdrop here make things tastier?  My guess is a wholehearted yes!

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Wedding Ceremonies and Receptions at Meadows Museum

One of the greatest parts of my job is working with Brides and Grooms!  We love helping people visualize and plan their special day here at the Meadows Museum.

We have one-of-a-kind spaces that ensure memorable and stunning events.  Most recently we had a gorgeous couple get married upstairs in our gallery spaces.  The photos speak for themselves!

Ceremony set up in Virginia Meadows Galleries

 

 

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¡Saludos! From the Meadows/Kress/Prado Fellow

I arrived in Dallas on a warm afternoon in late August.  As I was leaving the airport the first thing I noticed were these beautiful banners fluttering in the wind publicizing the new exhibition that was about to open at the Meadows Museum, Jusepe de Ribera’s Mary Magdalene in a New Context.  At that moment it became clear to me that I was right where I was supposed to be.  This exhibition and the fellowship that brings me to this city for a full year are part of the three-year groundbreaking partnership between the Meadows Museum of Southern Methodist University and the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid.  Thanks to this initiative, visitors to the museum have the unique opportunity to appreciate some of the most important works in the history of Spanish art, which rarely leave the Prado, within the context of the already extraordinary collection of Spanish art works owned by the Meadows.  And thanks to this partnership, I am enjoying one of the most exceptional experiences in my professional life, especially at this time when I am about to complete my Ph.D. and embark on a career in a field that has enthralled me for most of my life.  Not only am I having the unique opportunity to closely study and enjoy the collection at the Meadows, and to work closely with its wonderful staff that has welcomed me so wholeheartedly to the institution, but I will also work for six weeks in the Spring at the Prado in Madrid, and have access to its extraordinary collection, even to those works that are never on view.  What else can a Spanish art historian ask for?!?

Anyone who is familiar with the Meadows knows that this museum houses exemplary works of Spanish art from medieval times to the twenty-first century.  El Greco, Velázquez, Goya, and Picasso are all represented in the collection.  But there are many more, although probably less known, masters of Spanish art whose work is no less deserving of recognition, like Luis de Morales, Juan Pantoja de la Cruz, Juan Bautista Maino, Juan Carreño de Miranda, Vicente López y Portaña, Ignacio Zuloaga, and Juan Gris, just to name a few.  I hope that my work in the museum will contribute to our knowledge of these masters and their production.  All hispanophiles, lovers of art, Dallas residents, and visitors should be immensely grateful to Algur H. Meadows (1899-1978) whose vision and love of Spanish art and culture are responsible for the magnificent collection that we enjoy today.

This entry is my first contribution to Tabula Rasa, the new Meadows Museum blog.  I will write regularly during the next year, and will share with you my thoughts on the experiences I will be living as the Meadows/Kress/Prado Fellow.  Insights on the permanent collection, special exhibitions, and my experiences at the Prado are some of the topics I plan to share with you.   I look forward to reading your comments, or answering any questions you might have.  Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to give my heartfelt thanks to the Meadows Foundation, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the Museo Nacional del Prado, the Meadows Museum, the Eugene McDermott Foundation, and all who have made this fellowship possible.   To say that I will take full advantage of this opportunity that I was so fortunate to receive is a great understatement.

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Welcome!

Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez, "Female Figure (Sibyl with Tabula Rasa)"

Welcome everyone to the new blog of the Meadows Museum at SMU! Here you’ll see periodic posts from various staff members, giving you a little more informal, “behind-the-scenes” look at museum life and how we go about our mission of art education. Why the name Tabula Rasa? Well for one, it’s a great name for a blog, as it means “a blank slate.” Secondly, because it relates to one of our favorite works in the collection, Velázquez’s “Sibyl with Tabula Rasa.” (If you’re like most of our visitors, she’s probably one of your favorites, too!)

We hope you’ll enjoy your visits here; feel free to ask us questions!

Carrie Hunnicutt
Marketing & PR Manager

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