What is it about art museums that I love so much? Maybe part of it is that good art, like good literature, makes me ask questions because it challenges me to see the world through different eyes. Or maybe it is that every time I look at a painting or a sculpture, I find a different answer to those questions, the same way I see new things in a book with each reading.
Take, for example, this crucifixion scene by American artist Gib Singleton. I've seen lots of variations on this theme, and most artists put women at the base of Christ's cross, not a watchful shepherd. The way the shepherd is posed looking upward brings to mind the angels' visit to the shepherds on the night Jesus was born and one angel's words: "Fear not: for behold, I bring to you good tidings of great joy."
Where is that joy now? And what of the way Christ hangs from the cross on strips of cloth rather than by nails through his hands? Are those pieces of fabric Jesus' burial clothes, or do they have another meaning?
That crucifix was our first exposure to the Dallas Museum of Biblical Art, a museum about which I have mixed feelings. It's purpose is to display works related to the New and Old Testaments. Unfortunately, there was a fire here in 2005 that pretty much burned the place down, and I think they are still in the process of rebuilding their collection. I thought there were a few too many copies and not enough originals.
I was allowed to take this photo of Adolf Schmitz's wonderful painting The Denial of Christ (1853), but I think it hangs in the entryway before the ticket booth.
Photography of two very large murals is allowed, neither of which I was especially fond of, but of which I took pictures anyway because, well, because I could! The first is The Resurrection, a 12' x 40' mural by Ron DiCianni.
|David, Isaiah, and Abraham are among those heralding the risen Christ on one side of the painting.|
|Elijah, Noah, Esther, John the Baptist, and Daniel are present on the other side, |
and Golgotha can be seen in the distance.
Unfortunately, that's about it. Honestly, not too memorable.
Our final museum visit was the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth.
The museum does have a formidable collection of Remington and Russell artwork, which means there is an amazing amount of testosterone on display.
|Coming Through the Rye (1902) by Frederic Remington (Bronze cast #12, 1916)|
This is notable for the number of hooves off the ground--an engineering feat (no pun intended).
|A Dash for the Timber (1889) by Frederic Remington|
|The Bronco Buster (1895 and 1909) by Frederic Remington|
|The Mountain Man (1903) by Frederic Remington|
|The Cowboy (1902) by Frederic Remington|
|An Indian Trapper (1889)|
Every museum of American art must have a painting of George Washington, and it's best if it is by Rembrandt Peale, one of the most prolific painters of George's visage. Even better, here we have the lovely Martha at the General's side.
The museum gives us both Washington the Man and Washington the Myth. I love this painting by Grant Wood (painter of American Gothic) celebrating the man who created the myth of young George, who "could not tell a lie," confessing to his father that he had chopped down the cherry tree. Note that George's face is the all-grown-up George as painted by Gilbert Stuart. It is the face that graces our $1 bill.
|Parson Weems' Fable (1939) by Grant Wood|
As long as we are discussing art depicting presidents, how about this angel? She was not only created by Daniel Chester French, sculptor of the statue of Abraham Lincoln in Washington, D.C.'s Lincoln Memorial, but she was designed the same year the Lincoln Memorial was dedicated:
|Benediction (1922) by Daniel Chester French|
I love anything and everything by Winslow Homer, but I especially love his paintings of children:
|Crossing the Pasture (1871-72) by Winslow Homer|
|Calla Lily Vendor (1929) by Alfredo Ramos Martinez|
|Red Cannas (1927) by Georgia O'Keeffe|
|The Wise Men (1923) by Maynard Dixon|
|Untitled (c. 1942) by Alexander Calder|
We saw another version of Edward Hicks's painting Peaceable Kingdom. We had seen a different version in the Dallas Museum of Art just a day before. This one, painted 21 years before the other, looks much less modern, but both have a cameo appearance by William Penn in the background:
|The Peaceable Kingdom (1826) by Edward Hicks|
|Cliffs of Green River (1874) by Thomas Moran|
|Wrapped Oranges (1889) by William J. McCloskey|
I'll end with a few more portraits that I found especially compelling. The one on the left is the self-portrait of Murray Bewley (ca.1912), the artist who painted the portrait on the right entitled Resignation/Marielle (1925). I am struck by how different the style is between the two; I never would have guessed it is the same artist.
There is a tender story behind the painting of the wan and frail woman. She is not Marielle but Bernice, Bewley's wife. He painted her just after they lost their first child, Marielle. The words in the painting's title, Resignation/Marielle, refer first to their feelings and then to the cause of those feelings. Perhaps painting this portrait was a way for Bewley to work through his grief.
For whatever reason, I really love this final self-portrait--the messy hair, the open-neck shirt, the pensive stare, the textured surface. And I LOVE the title.
|I'll Sit a Little While (2008) by Sedrick Huckaby|
|View of Forth Worth from the Carter Museum window|