March 10, 2010: A Trip to Fort Lauderdale
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Page Index
February 20
Fort Worth Museums

    Getting to the Museums
    Museum of Modern Art
    The Kimball Museum
    The Amon Carter Museum

February 20, 2010
A Visit to the Museums
in Fort Worth


 

Barbara has been wanting to go visit the new Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth for some time, and today she, her friend Paul Shamberger and Fred and I went to see it.

 

Getting to the Museums


Barbara and Paul came by about ten on Saturday morning, and we drove over to Fort Worth in her car. She'd already driven quite a bit this morning, so she had be drive to Fort Worth. We just went south on Inwood/Hampton to I-30 and then headed west, all the way to just the other side of downtown Fort Worth.


Getting to the museum district is very easy and I've driven it enough times to know my way. Just past downtown Fort Worth, we take the exit to University Avenue and then head north. This puts us right in the cultural district, and we just have to jog left a block in front of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth to enter their parking lot.

I don't know why the Kimball Art Museum is not noted on the Google map, but since we visited it today I have indicated where it is located.


We are going to visit three museums today, and I have marked them on the satellite map at left. We'll do the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth first, have some lunch there, and then go to the Kimball Museum across the street. Then we'll have to drive over to the Amon Carter museum. (We could walk, but that is a lot of walking for Barbara to do, so driving is easier all around.)

You can return to today's index or continue with the next section below.


 

The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

We parked in the lot right next to the museum and headed in. On the way, we passed by a huge outdoor sculpture entitled "Vortex," by Richard Serra.

 

The Building


The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth is the oldest art museum in Texas. Over the years, it has been housed in various buildings within the city. The newest museum building opened at the intersection of Camp Bowie and University on December 14, 2002. Designed by Tadao Ando, this concrete and glass museum features dramatic views of the Fort Worth skyline sitting above a reflecting pool. The design of the building features soaring concrete cantilevered roof slabs supported by "Y" shaped columns. Below the roof slabs are curtain walls rising 40 feet that enclose the sculpture galleries. A series of baffled skylights and clerestories allow light into the art galleries.

Below are some pictures taken from the museum's Web site:

Vortex and Southwest Corner Entry (South Side) Galleries from the East

I took a number of my own pictures that feature the building itself, rather than its contents. You can have a look at these pictures if you will click on the thumbnail images below:

 

The Andy Warhol Exhibit

The main exhibition that was going on while we were there was one featuring the works of Andy Warhol. There were a lot of interesting pieces, and I wanted to take a good many pictures, but photography in this particular exhibit was prohibited. A couple of the pieces, however, were off along the mezzanine that looks down onto the first floor and there was no docent in this area, so I was able to get a couple of pictures. One was a variation on the iconic Campbell's Soup Can and the other was one of the silk screen images of Marilyn Monroe that Warhol is famous for.

 

Other Pieces in the Museum

Barbara, Paul and Fred all wanted to look a different things in the museum, so we wandered apart from each other, planning to meet up at the entrance to the restaurant for some lunch. I wandered through the galleries in no particular sequence, looking at the pieces that interested me and photographing some of them.

One installation that I noticed while I was on the mezzanine was laid out on the floor below me at the reflecting pool end of one of the galleries. I couldn't quite tell what it was from the mezzanine, although I did take a couple of pictures of it from up there. You can see those pictures here and here. A little later on, when I got down to the main floor, I went to the same installation to see what it was. It turned out to be by the Cuban-born artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres (d. 1996). It was created in 1991 and was untitled. The description called it "Green candies individually wrapped in cellophane."


Untitled (1991)
Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1957-1996)

Although as you can see from the beginning of the movie, I violated photography restrictions to film this installation and take still pictures of it as well. And as you can see clearly in my still picture, the entire installation is nothing more that a long pile of individually-wrapped green candies.
 

I was intrigued by the installation and I looked at it for quite a few minutes. Then I went to find a docent to ask a question about it. I found one in the next gallery and I asked her whether they ever had a problem with little kids touching, moving or, heaven forbid, taking one of the candies. Her answer was as interesting as it was unexpected. Of course, she said, people often take a candy or two. The artist intended that, and the museum replaces the candies periodically, with the result that the artwork is never exactly the same from one day to the next! That, of course, prompted me to return to the installation and liberate a couple of pieces myself. You can see my own little art installation here.

In my wanderings I saw quite a few interesting pieces, and took a good many photographs. On looking at them later, only a relatively few of them were good enough to include here. I do not have explanations for the art pieces, so you may have to supply your own. Just click on the thumbnail images below to see some of the artwork in the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth:


The Brown Sisters, 1975-2007
Nicholas Nixon (1947- )

In 1975, Nixon began photographing his wife and her three sisters every year. The resulting series offers a look at both portraiture and familiar relationships. (You can pause the movie at the beginning to read the rest of the information about it.)
 


The way the building is designed, the individual galleries have spaces between them- part of the reflecting pool. So you can be at the end of one gallery and look into another.

At the end of another gallery, I found another interesting installation. I know from the picture at the left that it must look pretty normal- just another sculpture/statue of some Roman or Greek guy that I stopped to take a picture of, right? Well, remember, I was wandering around by myself, and there were no obliging art patrons around to take my picture. How could they, anyway? I am holding my camera, so no one else could have used it to take my picture.

The answer to this interesting puzzle can be found in the nature of the installation's arrangement, and the placard indicated that doing what I did was exactly what the artist thought would happen, so I guess there are at least a few pictures like this one around the Metroplex. How was it done? When you think you know, click here. Neat, huh?

The last thing I did before going in to meet everyone else for our late lunch was to wander out by the reflecting pool and back to the huge sculpture of stainless steel trees. I had to walk all the way to the end of the museum property so I could get that picture of the trees with the museum itself as a backdrop. They were pretty impressive. As I was walking back past them towards the restaurant, I stopped to take another closer picture of them, and you can see that picture here.

Just before I got back to the patio, I happened to notice what I can only assume was another modern art installation, although I was a little mystified that there was no signage to tell me who the artist was or what the name of the piece was. So I guess I'll just call it "Cheetos in Grass."

It was time to meet Barbara and Paul and Fred for some lunch and we ate in the restaurant there in the museum.

You can return to today's index or continue with the next section below.


 

The Kimball Art Museum

Whenever she comes over to Fort Worth, Barbara always likes to walk through at least part of the Kimball Museum. The Kimball is an eclectic art museum, covering painting, sculpture, historical artifacts and other items over a wide range of artistic types and forms. There is a large collection and rotating permanent exhibitions, and there are also exhibitions that travel from museum to museum. The current temporary exhibition is European art drawn from private collections in Texas.

I've been to the Kimball a couple of times before, and have seen much that is on permanent display. I wasn't much interested in the current exhibition, so I left Barbara, Paul and Fred and went outside to the sculpture garden to sit in the wan sunlight by their cascading fountain. I walked around the gardens a bit, noting some of the large sculptures on display. One particularly colorful one is by Fernande Leger and is titled "The Running Flower" (La Fleur qui Marche). There was also another large piece whose name I do not know.

After a while, I went back in to wait for the others who, as it turns out, were just finishing up in the gift shop. We all piled into Barbara's car and headed over to the Amon Carter Museum.

You can return to today's index or continue with the next section below.


 

The Amon Carter Museum


Amon G. Carter, a legendary figure in Texas history, was for most of his life Fort Worth’s leading citizen and champion. Mr. Carter’s will provided for the establishment of a museum in Fort Worth devoted to American art. “As a youth, I was denied the advantages which go with the possession of money,” he stated in the will. “I am endeavoring to give to those who have not had such advantages, but who aspire to the higher and finer attributes of life, those opportunities which were denied to me.”

The Amon Carter Museum was established through the generosity of Amon G. Carter Sr. (1879–1955) to house his collection of paintings and sculpture by Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell; to collect, preserve, and exhibit the finest examples of American art; and to serve an educational role through exhibitions, publications, and programs devoted to the study of American art.

With Fred's interest in the frontier, buffalo and all things Texan and Western, the Amon Carter Museum has been a frequent destination for us. In times past, we have also gone through the museum with Frank and Joe. It is always interesting.

The four of us again went through the museum at our own pace, looking at what interested us. I took a number of pictures of some of the artwork and sculpture, and I would like to show them to you. If you click on any of the small images below, I will show you the full-size picture. I hope you enjoy seeing some of the art in the Amon Carter Museum.

William T. Ranney (1813)-1857)
"Marion Crossing the Pee Dee, 1850" (Oil on canvas)

General Francis Marion (1732?-1795) was a hero of the American Revolution, second only to George Washington in the popular imagination. Known as the "Swamp Fox," his surprise attack on the British captors of colonial militiamen at Camden and his swift retreat across the Pee Dee River with the liberated volunteers was a dramatic turning point in the war. Perhaps that event is what William Ranney is recalling in this lively scene of men, horses, and dogs on a barge, all led across the river by Marion, who is posed regally on horseback at left.


Alexander Phimister Proctor (1860-1946)
"Indian Warrior, modeled 1895-97" (Bronze cast)

Inspired by the great equestrian civic monuments of antiquity, Proctor envisioned this work as being a different kind of heroic figure than had previously been seen in monuments to war heroes: an American Indian warrior. Proctor modeled the horse from an impressive steed owned by a New York friend. For his Indian model, he traveled to the Blackfoot Reservation in Montana, where he sculpted several Blackfoot men. The combination of nobility an dnatural vitality seen in Proctor's mounted Indian Warrior earned him critical acclaim for this bronze as well as a gold medal at the Paris Universal Exposition in 1900.


Cyrus E. Dallin (1861-1944)
"The Medicine Man, 1899" (Bronze)

While studying in Paris in 1889, Dallin encountered Buffalo bill's Wild West Show and spent nearly every day at its camp, modeling the American Indian performers. He conceived of a series of equestrian statues that would depict the cycle of Indian-white relations. These became The Signal of Peace, The Protest, The Appeal to the Great Spirit, and this work, The Medicine Man, whose subject is warning his people of the danger of the white man. Dallin produced a monumental version for Fairmount Park in Philadelphia. This model is believed to be the only example cast by the artist in this size. He also executed a smaller, seventeen-inch model.


Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986)
"Red Cannas, 1927" (Oil on canvas)

When Georgia O'Keeffe placed magnified botanical elements close to the picture plane, spilling out of its borders, she transformed the traditional genre o fstill life painting into something completely new and original. Floral motifs offered the artist the perfect subject for self-expression and a means to suggest the associative power of objects with people an dplaces. As she celebrated the dynamic color patterns found in nature, she remained careful to balance objective imagery with abstract form. "A flower is relatively small," she later wrote. "Everyone has many associations with a flower- the idea of flowers. Still, in a way, nobody sees a flower- really- it is so small. We haven't time- and to see takes time. Like to have a friend takes time. So I said to myself, I'll paint what I see- what the flower is to me- but I'll paint it big and they will be surprised into taking time to look at it."


Marsden Hartley (1877-1943)
"American Indian Symbols, 1914" (Oil on canvas)

Marsden Hartley drew inspiration for this painting from several sources: mysticism, German folk art, and the avant-garde theories of Europe's most progressive artists. He employed abstracted motifs derived from American Indian culture: medicine wheels, tipis, shields, chiefs' blankets and warbonnets, fashioning them into shematic designs of bright, glowing colors. He wrote to his American dealer, Alfred Stieglitz: "I find myself wanting to be an Indian- to paint my face with the symbols of that race I adore, go to the West and face the sun forever- that would sweem the true expression of human dignity."


Charles Sheeler (1883-1965)
"Conversation- Sky and Earth, 1940" (Oil on canvas)

Charles Sheeler invented a crisp, clean, hard-edged style now often labeled Precisionism. In 1938, Fortune magazine commissioned Sheeler to produce a pictorial essay on the theme of power. the artist traveled to Nevada, New York and Alabama, completing six painting, including this one of Hoover Dam, located in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River on the border between Arizona and Nevada. Sheeler documented the dam photographically from numerous vantage points, selecting a provocatively cropped image on which to base this painting. He portrayed in extreme perspective a transmission tower soaring above it, its wires bisecting the blue, crystalline sky. Blazing light, combined with the artist's nearly indecipherable brushstrokes, results in an astonishing clarity that paradoxically imparts to the scene a sense of the supernatural and miraculous.


Stuart Davis (1892-1964)
"Bass Rocks No. 2, 1939" (Oil on canvas)

Bass Rocks No. 2 exemplifies Davis' imaginative transformation of natural forms into a delicate balance between abstraction and realism. Here, he dispensed with a realistic palette, using vibrant colors to define and reinforce the seaparate landscape elements, creating an elaborate pattern of flattened shapes within the composition. For example, the horizontal strip of yellow with the red dashes in the upper right represents the beach, and the red "H" shape below the black dot signifies a figure.


Thomas Moran (1837-1926)
"Cliffs of Green River, 1874" (Oil on canvas)
As a guest of the U.S. Geological Survey in 1871, Thomas Moran was among the earliest adventurers to explore the American West. The brilliantly colored buttes along the Green River in southwestern Wyoming were what first captured Moran's imagination, though his name is inextricably linked to Yellowstone country. Green River, already transformed into a major rail crossroads by the time Moran first visited there, always remained in his mind's eye a landscape untouched by time, inhabited only by a few adventuresome trailblazers.

Thomas Cole (1801-1948)
"The Hunter's Return, 1845" (Oil on canvas)
American scenery always served Thomas Cole as a point of departure for storytelling. In this Edenlike, sun-filled vale, a family lives simply and innocently in harmony with nature. the painting speaks of domestic bliss- a father and son returning home from the hunt to a loving welcome. The details that lend charm and narrative to the scene also convey the full force of Cole's moral tale; the fall from grace comes with the defiling of nature as settlers move every forward toward civilization.

Fitz Henry Lane (1804-1865)
"Boston Harbor, 1856" (Oil on canvas)
Boston Harbor in the 1850s proved an ideal subject for Lane. In this scene he presents different types of ships from various perspectives- a head-on view of a large, square-rigged bark at left; an oblique port-side view of a steamer packet moving into the scene at center; and a profile view of a sleek, sharp-hulled modern clipper at right. These and a scattering of towboats, fishing vessels, and other craft are naturally disposed about the harbor, just as the artist might have observed them. (Christened Nathaniel Rogers Lane, the artist petitioned to have his named (sic) changed to Fitz Henry (not Hugh) in 1831.)

Carl Wimar (1828-1862)
"Indians Crossing the Upper Missouri, 1859-60" (Oil on canvas)
In 1858 and 1859, Carl Wimar traveled by steamboat more than 2,300 miles up the Missouri River. He saw the frontier of the northern plains at a crucial point in its history: native peoples being confined to reservations, the buffalo hunted nearly to extinction, and the vast open spaces parceled out into organized territories. Yet Wimar always viewed the West in terms of his own romatic preconceptions. This evocative painting depicts the frontier as an area of unspoiled beauty, inhabited by American Indians who roam freely. The light of the setting sun emphasizes the brilliant color of the buttes, but for wimar, an inveterate storyteller, the dying light is also an apt metaphor for the imminent passing of a golden age on the American frontier.

Frederic Remington (1861-1909)
"A Dash for the Timber, 1889" (Oil on canvas)
Between 1885 and 1888, Remington made a number of trips to the Southwest, often to cover the activities of the U.S. Cavalry and its pursuit of renegade Apaches. He was deeply influenced by the stark landscape of the region and filled his sketchbooks with color notes and observations about the special quality of the light. In 1889, he wrote to a friend that he was working on "a big cowboy picture," and he needed two or three pairs of chaps sent to him as soon as possible. He was referring to this painting, which launched his career when it received favorable critical attention at the National Academy of Design in New York the following year. the overall effect of the composition is riveting, as the fleeing riders gallop forward directly toward the viewer. Interestingly, this cinematic quality anticipates the many western films that were to follow a generation later.

There was a lot more to see in the Amon Carter, but it was getting time for me to hook back up with Fred and Barbara and Paul. I found Fred and Barbara in the Charles M. Russell permanent exhibit, talking with one of the museum guides about Russell and his art.

Charles Russell was born on March 19, 1864, in St. Louis, Missouri, to Mary Meade Russell (1833-1897) and Charles Silas Russell (1833-1906), a successful manufacturer and businessman. In 1880, after briefly attending military school in New Jersey, Russell talked his father into letting him travel to the Montana Territory to work on a sheep ranch. The following year he began a two-year apprenticeship with a professional hunter and trapper; after that he obtained employment as a night herder, working for various ranches in the growing Montana open-range cattle industry. Throughout this period he developed as a self-taught artist. He sketched, modeled, and painted, achieving a regional reputation as "The Cowboy Artist," selling some examples of his work. He exhibited his first oil painting in St. Louis in 1886, and his first published illustration followed in the pages of Harper's Weekly two years later.

In 1893 russell left range work to pursue art full time, and in 1896 he married Nancy Cooper (1878-1940), who dedicated her life to managing her husband's art. russell made his first visit to New York City in 1903, the same year his log-cabin studio ws erected in Great Falls, Montana. Over the next twenty years, he completed a number of commissioned illustrations and also published several of his stories. Since boyhood, Russell had modeled sculptures in painted wax and plaster; in 1904, while on a trip to New York, he created his first work in bronze. Solo exhibitions of his work in various cities, beginning in 1911, secured his reputation both as the major artist of the American West to follow Remington and as an original artist in his own right. In the 1920s his regular visits to California had a considerable influence on the rapidly-growing film industry. Russell died of heart failure in Great Falls on Oceober 24, 1926.

The Amon Carter museum has a number of Russell's paintings and drawings, but they have even more of his sculpture. In the permanent exhibition, there were perhaps a hundred different sculptures of all sizes. I noticed that a fair number of them were buffalo and, knowing Fred's interest in the animal, I took pictures of some of them. I have included six of the best of those pictures here. Just click on each of the thumbnail images below to have a look at the full-sized image:

We had a great time at the three museums here in Fort Worth, and we headed back to Dallas about four in the afternoon. Our thanks to Barbara for instigating the trip.

You can return to today's index or use the links below to continue to the album page for different day.


March 10, 2010: A Trip to Fort Lauderdale
February 11-12, 2010: A Record Snowfall in Dallas
Return to Index for 2010