México 1900–1950 Highlights New Narratives in Mexico’s Modern Art History
It’s a happy new year. This month the DMA issued its press release publicly announcing the exciting addition of México 1900–1950: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco, and the Avant-Garde to the Museum’s exhibition schedule. The exhibition, curated by Dr. Agustín Arteaga, opened at the Grand Palais in Paris this past October, where it has received great public and critical acclaim. México 1900–1950 offers a renewed vision of Mexican art from the first half of the 20th century through a faithful account of the ambitious spirit of this major period of national artistic history. The impact of cultural activity in Mexico from the end of the long civil war (the Mexican revolt of 1910–20) until the beginning of the 1950s was indeed a singular phenomenon and can be seen in the works presented in México 1900–1950.
The exhibition, with the DMA serving as the only North American venue and the only venue outside of Paris, has already received tremendous support from the DMA community in the brief weeks since its inclusion in the DMA lineup of exhibitions this spring, and the DMA looks forward to inviting our community to discover more of the fabric of Mexico’s art history beginning March 12.
Dr. Chu Comes to Dallas
On November 29, NEA Chairman Jane Chu visited Dallas as the featured speaker for the Dallas Arts District Community Breakfast. Afterwards, she visited the DMA with Gary Gibbs, Executive Director of the Texas Commission on the Arts, for a tour led by Agustín Arteaga of the Conservation Studio and the African and Contemporary Art galleries, with senior curators Dr. Roslyn A. Walker, Senior Curator of the Arts of Africa, the Americas, and the Pacific and The Margaret McDermott Curator of African Art at the Dallas Museum of Art, and Gavin Delahunty, The Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art, offering commentary. Her visit ended with a presentation by Amanda Blake, Interim Director of Education and Head of Family, Access, and School Experiences, and Ingrid Van Haastrecht, Director of Development Operations and Analysis, on the progress of the NEA grant the DMA received to conduct an evaluation of the South Dallas community and how they engage with the Museum. Dr. Chu’s visit was chronicled the following day in this article in the Dallas Morning News.
Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow
After four and a half groundbreaking years at the DMA, Mark Leonard, the Museum’s first Chief Conservator, will be retiring—for the second time—to the sun-drenched California desert. Leonard stepped down in 2010 as the Head of the Paintings Conservation Department at the J. Paul Getty Museum to pursue his career as an artist. His DMA appointment in 2012 signaled the initial phase of the development of the Museum’s conservation program, which included the addition of staff and the renovation of its on-site spaces to include a paintings conservation studio.
While at the DMA, Leonard carefully stewarded the collection and built a robust and comprehensive conservation program. He was responsible for carrying out major treatments on over 60 works of art, restoring a range of works, from a rare early Renaissance Spanish panel painting, to Jacques Blanchard’s 17th-century oil painting Zeus and Semele, to a work by Texas artist Julian Onderdonk that had been confined to storage for decades because of its poor state of preservation. Leonard also collaborated with private collectors on the study and care of their collections in order to present the work in the Museum galleries for all to see.
Under Leonard’s direction, the DMA also established a network of regional conservation partnerships with museums in North Texas and local universities to collaborate on conservation research and the study of individual works. Although he will surely be missed, the impact of his time at the DMA will not soon be forgotten—and evidence of it will continue to be seen throughout our institution.