Permanent Collection Re-Hang at the Fort Worth Modern

Visiting the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth was a pleasant rediscovery, since I’d been in New York for the majority of the time the Modern has been open in its Tadao Ando-designed building in museum district. Full disclosure: I may be biased, I have such warm fuzzy feelings for that area of Cowtown. I went to high school in nearby Arlington and spent many hours on the Kimbell Museum’s lawn in high school and during college breaks. I only went to the Modern once before they opened the Ando building in 2002, and didn’t have the faintest idea how strong their collection was.  

In a new installation of permanent collection works the curators have given us fresh eyes to see the undersung collection. In the smaller of the second floor gallery spaces, usually reserved for director-favorite Sean Scully, is a Robert Motherwell survey  of 70+ works, all from the museum’s extensive holdings. For some reason I did not have it in my head that Motherwell was making his Elegies to the Spanish Republic until as late as 1990. Schooled! That is one long-running series, as he began making them in 1948.

Not an Elegy: Robert Motherwell, “The Garden Window (Open No. 110),” 1969. 

The first floor galleries give a fresh look at items in the collection that have spent some time in storage, as over half of the 60+ pieces currently on view were not in the previous permanent collection installation. Also new is that the works are not arranged strictly by chronology, but in a more narrative theme of movements. Beginning with the figurative, led by heavy hitters like Picasso, Francis Bacon, and Milton Avery,  and followed by an entire gallery of Philip Guston, the viewer is led through abstract works, pop art, then into the minimal. Some of my favorites included Ben Shahn’s “Allegory,” several Morris Louis canvases that do not disappoint, and “Male Head IV” by new-to-me artist David Bates.  

The museum has a strong showing of permanent installations, most notably works with spaces designed around them: Martin Puryear’s ever-so-tall “Ladder for Booker T. Washington,” and Anselm Kiefer’s “Book with Wings” in its unusual round gallery. I am as impressed by that round gallery as I am by the artwork itself (which is to say, I don’t love the sculpture but I do love the oval-shaped home). Two other permanent highlights of a visit to the museum are Richard Serra’s “Vortex” in the front of the building and Roxy Paine’s “Conjoined” on the back lawn. Visible from many angles within the museum and cafe, “Conjoined” gleams silver in the sunlight, set off by the green lawn across the reflecting pool, a welcome bit of shiny irregularity against the careful vertical and horizontal lines of the building itself. Interesting note: when looking up the Paine trees on The Modern’s site and in a Google image search, I found that I disliked many of the images. Nearly all are taken from the vantage point of the back wall of the sculpture garden, with the building in the background. Truly, the building is lovely, but those shots don’t do the sculpture much justice. A fresh reminder of how important it is to see art in person whenever possible, eh?

Straight lines and reflections: #museumselfie with a Jenny Holzer in the background.

Once I’ve seen the full exhibition of Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic (through Jan. 10, 2016) I’ll share here, and there is a Frank Stella retrospective in the pipes, to open April 17, 2016.

Greetings Earthlings! Transitions and Impressions

Leaving Brooklyn, oy vei!

After 10 years in Brooklyn, NY, I have returned to my home state of Texas. I left Dallas in 2005 to go to graduate school full-time in Visual Arts Administration at New York University. After completing the program in 2 years, my husband Jonah and I stayed on in our adopted city of Brooklyn for 8 more. We returned in August 2015 and are currently based in Waco.

Two things I miss about NYC so far: street art and fall color

We had a blast in “The City” and we’re making the most of our time in Texas while we’re relatively unscheduled. I’ve visited lots of museums and art organizations in our short time back, it’s fun to be a tourist in a place you already know. Fort Worth has long been a favorite because of the wonderful Kimbell and I had a chance to visit the Fort Worth Modern’s new permanent collection re-installation (more on that in a later post), and to have a tiny peek into their since-opened Kehinde Wiley survey as it was being installed. Rumor has it that the artist thinks it looks better in Fort Worth than at its first stop at the Brooklyn Museum. (Don’t worry BK, you’re still one of my favorites!)

Speaking of the Brooklyn Museum, one of their current shows is an exhibition we saw during its first stop at Austin’s BlantonImpressionism and the Caribbean: Fransisco Oller and His Transatlantic World (through Jan. 3, 2016). Absolutely worth your time if you are able to see it. There are quite a few lovely Oller paintings, a few pieces by familiar masters (Cézanne, Monet, Church, Homer)*, and several of the contextual pieces by less-known contemporaries were what really took my breath away.

My favorite of the Oller works in the exhibition, very Courbet.

A nice surprise from our August visit to the Blanton was Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm (through Nov. 15, 2015). Exploring the earliest, darkest Grimm fairy tales, the artist envisions key scenes from both well-known and unknown Grimm stories in vibrant, sometimes disturbing drawings. The exhibition is a quickie-but-goodie, and the catalogue is high on my Christmas list.

* Big props to the museums that own these artworks for having their info available online! My beloved Brooklyn Museum, and the Wadsworth Athenaeum