Two Focus Shows at DMA

With the temperatures rising, keeping cool during the summer months is a top priority. Lucky for us all, there are two new summer focus exhibitions at the Dallas Museum of Art this season that you’ll want to add to your calendar.

Start your DMA experience with an up-close viewing of “Caravaggio: Martha and Mary Magdalene,” an extraordinary work on loan to the museum from the Detroit Institute of Arts. Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571–1610) is one of the most influential figures in the history of European art. Active in Italy between 1592 and 1610, he revolutionized painting and laid the foundation for 17th-century Baroque painting through his exaggerated compositions and gritty realism observed from his young and rather adventurous life.

With just the one painting on display in a low-lit gallery with a single bench, being confined in such a small space added a sense intimacy as Julien Domercq, the DMA’s new Lillian and James H. Clark assistant curator of European Art, presented and demonstrated the techniques of the old master painter and the importance of his work of art. “Marth and Mary Magdalene” (c. 1598) is a masterpiece from Caravaggio’s early career in Rome. The painting depicts Mary Magdalene, considered by the Catholic Church at the time to be a prostitute, experiencing a spiritual awakening as her sister Martha counts on her fingers the reasons she should convert. Caravaggio conveys the moment of conversion through his treatment of light, which casts a divine glow on the reformed sinner. The stag-like atmosphere pushes the subjects up close to the viewer as if it were unfolding in the gallery with us.

Fewer than ten paintings by Caravaggio are housed in the United States and on view in the collections of only six museums, so let’s count ourselves lucky here in Dallas. Visitors can learn more about the life, career, and significance of Caravaggio in a series of public programs from July through September.

Afterward, head on up to the Atrium Overlook and Arts of the Americas gallery to see “Sheila Hicks: Secret Structures, Looming Presence” — a unique display enlightening how the weaving traditions from Latin America inspire the 84-year-old contemporary artist’s practice.

“In my conversations with Sheila, it was obvious she has tremendous reverence for ancient and modern indigenous weaving techniques,” noted Michelle Rich, the Ellen and Harry S. Parker III assistant curator. “A portion of her vast body of work is a dialogue between past and present. This allows us to examine both her practice and ancient fiber arts from a different perspective.”

FROM LEFT: Zihzabal, 2018; Representation of a tree (element for figural scene), 1000-1460; Hieroglyph Wuppertal, 1966.

Hicks has lived and worked extensively in Mexico, Peru, Chile, and other countries in South America and around the world throughout her six-decade career. Born in Nebraska and based in Paris since 1964, Hicks became interested in ancient Andean art as a student at the Yale University School of Art and Architecture, where she researched ancient Andean textiles for her master’s thesis.

The expressions of color and texture in Hick’s work displays both the contemporary and old techniques used in her artwork. The collection is a selection of loom-woven, wrapped, twisted, and knotted fiber-works and offers a new observation of textile traditions throughout time. Her work comes in a variety of different shapes, sizes, colors – but perhaps some of her most exciting pieces are the small-scale woven squares she dubs “minimes.” This ancient technique derives from Peru to create cloth with four finished edges. These and other artworks, like “Zihzabal” – the ritual acts of wrapping and bundling – demonstrates how Hicks has experimented with ancient techniques to produce her original work.

“Sheila Hicks: Secret Structures, Looming Presence” is on view until Jan. 12, 2020.

To keep up with future summer events, visit DMA.org for more information.

Imani Lytle

Imani Chet Lytle spends most of her time behind the scenes at People Newspapers handling design and marketing tasks, but you can occasionally catch her "Out and About" covering the latest museum openings, musical concerts, and delicious new food menus in the area – and all through her trusty dusty iPhone camera. Catch some of the action on our Instagram page: @peoplenewspapers. For the latest news, click here to sign up for our newsletter.

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