Written By Emma O.
On a particularly cold Sunday in January, my friend and I made our way to the Dallas Museum of Art. As we entered, we were met by droves of people, many families with young children, and who were dressed to the nines. Not only did we underestimate the amount of people who would be there, we felt so underdressed compared to some of the elegant mothers pushing beautifully draped strollers, color-matching dads and adorably dressed kids. Not only were the families stylishly dressed, the young and older attendees looked very hip, with all generations sampling new and retro inspired trends. The fashion of the general public was an exhibit in itself.
The Dallas Museum of Art has an extensive collection, so we decided on three exhibits we wanted to see; Spirit and Matter: Masterpieces from the Keir Collection of Islamic Art, International Pop and Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots. The Islamic Art exhibit was relatively small but packed with people admiring metalworks, calligraphy and textiles. The geometric precision of the artwork was awe-inspiring and the colors were vibrant despite some being done over 500 years ago. Some of the drawings were on small pages but were so detailed you could get lost staring into the intricate patterns. My friend and I especially admired the calligraphy, which puts to shame my cursive of which I was once so proud. Needless to say, I was deeply impressed with the whole exhibit.
Pop Art can be a controversial topic with common critiques as ‘trashy’, ‘kitsch’ or ‘not real art’, while proponents declare that it can be all three, which ultimately makes it a unique form of ‘art’. My friend and I were skeptical as we entered the International Pop. Collages are not my favorite medium, so I breezed past that section, but not without hearing comments from my friend like, “What is this? Grade school art?”, “I could do that.” and “Is that just a piece of paper glued to the bottom of a shoe?”. In his defense, it was.
Despite our initial skepticism, we found the exhibit very fun, interactive, and interesting. It was also extremely diverse. To from oil paintings, a grocery display with fake fruit, cartoons, collages, wooden carvings of people at a dinner table, screen prints, a neon-lighted prayer booth, a plush maid sitting on a couch, and too many more to list. The plush maid was actually so realistic and creepy that my friend enjoyed my stifled scream when he told me to look over at the woman staring at me.
The historical overtones of each section were very well explained and emphasized the radicalism of the movement around the world. It rose from the ashes of World War II as a departure from what was viewed as traditional ‘high art’ . Many focused heavily on consumerism and popular culture. Some were whimsical while quite a few expressed political dissent with corrupt governments and scathing criticisms of western and American imperialism.
I know that when I think of Pop Art, the first person to come to mind is Andy Warhol. There was one dramatic screen print that I saw from Warhol, but he was almost non-existent in this exhibit. The pieces from Japan and Brazil were standouts, with artists from the two countries strongly expressing their dissatisfaction with government and western cultural imperialism. My friend and I had two different favorites from Tadandori Yokoo. We both stood at gawked for a long time in front of a jaw-droppingly intense portrait of food by Icelandic artist Erró. Think I’m exaggerating? Go see it yourself and try not to overwhelmed….and hungry…go with a full stomach. There was also strong presence of female artists, many expressing feminine sexuality and feministic viewpoints.
One group of people were not impressed. They were loudly voicing their opinions about how the artwork was “stupid” and even “putrid”. However, the disparaging comments were not what stood out most from this group. It was a little boy with a hairdo that was obviously painstakingly blown-out and styled by his mother that morning. It stood tall on the sides but drooped over his forehead, partially obscuring his vision. Not taking into consideration all the effort this took to produce, my snarky friend quipped, “That kid looks ridiculous.”. He expressed his opinion about this particular hairdo several times, despite the fact that we looked like hobos next to all these fabulously dressed people, including the Flock of Seagulls kid.
Next up was Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots, an exhibit profiling the controversial artist. Although not a fan myself, he does have a widely recognized and personalized style. This exhibit featured many of black and white paintings done with ink as well as the distinct coloring ‘splash’ paintings he is known for. I was . Unlike the other exhibits, we saw people more or less just breezing through. There was also more giggling we expected, but not the kind he heard in International Pop when one piece had audiences stare into a peep hole to look at 2D genitalia paintings. It was more like people were giggling at their own jokes. I know I did when we came across an art piece where Pollock had put a few drops of paint on some mulberry paper and my friend keenly observed, “Now this is where he just got lazy.” I did like some of the ink paintings that had crazy, semi-abstract line people or faces, but I can’t say much else caught my attention. The minimalist sculptures looked like dried seagull poop to me.
Five o’clock rolled around and everyone shuffled out of the building and huddled by the elevators to the parking garage. I’d definitely recommend all the exhibits. We even took for granted N S Harsha: Sprouts, reach in to reach out, which was painted on the walls of the first floor as we were running between exhibits. Maybe we should have paid more attention instead of staring at all the cool(er) looking people.
Check out the Dallas Museum of Art exhibits yourself
Spirit and Matter: Masterpieces from the Keir Collection of Islamic Art runs until 7/31/2016
International Pop is finished on 1/17/2016
Jackson Pollock:Blind Spots runs until 3/20/2016
N S Harsha: Sprouts, reach in to reach out runs until 2/14/2016