Dallas-Fort Worth museums are in bloom with textural paintings, desirable images, unsettling portraits and a world-class homegrown art collection. Here’s what to see this season:
Michaël Borremans: As Sweet as it Gets
Dallas Museum of Art
Through July 5
The title of Belgian artist Michaël Borremans' major survey can be interpreted two ways, according to curator Jeffrey Grove: “As sweet as it gets may imply either the embrace of a sunny present or a resigned acceptance that things are as bad as they will ever get.”
In the end, it’s up to the viewer to choose the final outcome.
Pictured here: Michaël Borremans, The Devil's Dress, 2011. Zeno X Gallery Antwerp and David Zwirner New York/London.
Formerly staged at the Centre for Fine Art in Brussels and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the exhibit encompasses roughly 100 works that share a mysterious narrative. Immaculately crafted and quietly subversive, Borremans' paintings depict subjects engaged in the most ordinary of actions that manage to stir up the most unsettling feelings.
Although there is some whimsy present in earlier drawings such as “A Mae West Experience,” Borremans’ tendency to explore subjects from every angle, while still revealing nothing, alludes there’s more than meets the eye, and it probably isn’t pleasant.
Pictured here: Michaël Borremans, The Storm, 2006. Zeno X Gallery Antwerp, David Zwirner New York/London and Gallery Koyanagi Tokyo.
Naturalist (and noted hunter) James Audubon is famed for the “Birds of America” series, but his beasts shouldn’t get short shrift. Audubon’s hyper-detailed depictions of North American mammals are equally lush, from a well-fed raccoon to a rather intense black wolf.
Culled from the Amon Carter’s permanent collection, these lithographs could be examined in relation to more modern artists’ work inspired by Audubon — specifically the weird watercolors of Walton Ford. Painted in the 19th century, “Audubon’s Beasts” manage to look quite contemporary in a so-real-they’re-unreal way.
Pictured here: Bos americanus, Gmel, American Bison or Buffalo After John James Audubon (1785–1851). Printed by John T. Bowen (1801 ca. 1856).
Fort Worth wouldn’t be the same artistic destination without the help of philanthropic legends Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass. In addition to reviving Cowtown’s downtown and establishing the city’s performance hall, the Basses were also enthusiastic art collectors.
Including works from Calder, Kandinsky, Matisse, Monet, Miro and Picasso, their collection was built organically, according to their son, Sid R. Bass, with “no design other than a love of the art that gave them pleasure.”
Pictured here: Pablo Picasso, Fruit Bowl, Bottle, and Guitar, 1922–23. Oil on canvas. Collection of Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass, Fort Worth © 2015 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Ranging from early Impressionism to post World War II works, these 37 paintings and sculptures had only been seen by those lucky enough to visit their private home and garden, or stay in the presidential suite of the Hotel Texas, where 16 pieces were on display.
The Kimbell show allows North Texans to indulge themselves in a rare collection that was built on a true passion, enthusiasm and love of art.
Pictured here: Joan Miró, Painting, 1933. Oil on canvas. Collection of Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass, Fort Worth © Successió Miró / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris 2015.
Framing Desire: Photography and Video
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
Through August 23
What does desire mean to you? In the Modern’s current photographic exhibition, it alludes to sexuality, gender, transgression and a simple longing for the things we view. With images by Larry Clark, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Sally Mann, Ryan McGinley, Catherine Opie, Andres Serrano and Cindy Sherman, “Framing Desire” blends 40 recent acquisitions with iconic images and video from the museum’s permanent collection.
Divided into portraiture (Ages), interiors and architecture (Rooms), and landscapes (Scapes), the show also includes a piece from Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson, culled from a six-hour performance of “Sorrow” by The National, pictured here.
Between Action and the Unknown: The Art of Kazuo Shiraga and Sadamasa Motonaga
Dallas Museum of Art
Through July 19
Two of the most celebrated painters of post-war Japan, Sadamasa Motonaga and Kazuo Shiraga shared a deep love of texture and color but created their art with wildly different techniques. Motonaga pooled wet paint upon dry or filled-in “abstract comics,” allowing the materials to flow in their own fashion. Shiraga used his feet to swipe paint across the canvas, and his oversized works have a 3-D impact all their own.
This DMA exhibition is the first U.S. show of the celebrated duo, and it’s an unmissable one for any fan of painting — abstract or otherwise.
Pictured here: Sadamasa Motonaga, Work 66-1, 1966 © 2015. Estate of Sadamasa Motonaga.
Says Gabriel Ritter, the Nancy and Tim Hanley assistant curator of contemporary art, “While these artists were largely synonymous with the Gutai Art Association, this exhibition aims at reconsidering their careers not only as members of Gutai, but first and foremost as artists in their own right.
“[It’s] a truly unique opportunity for the Dallas audience.”
Pictured here: Kazuo Shiraga, Difficult Voyage, 1949.
Renowned America sculptor (and Houston native) Melvin Edwards crafts his environmental works from scrap — never junk — transforming horseshoes, nails, scissors, chains and machine parts into sculptural forms that give homage to friends, family members, poets and human rights activists.
Pictured here: Melvin Edwards with Column of Memory, Deni-Malick Gueye Farm near Diannaido, Senegal, about 2005.
Most famed for his “Lynch fragments,” small welded-steel wall reliefs he began creating in 1963, Edwards’ much-overdue retrospective at the Nasher also encompasses rarely seen drawings and sketchbooks and mid- and large-scale sculptures.
His environmental works are most intriguing when they challenge our concepts of negative space, as his oversized barbed wire installations on the lower gallery do. Says associate curator Catherine Craft, “[His works show] negative spaces are just as full as so-called positive ones, that is, negative space is not empty space.”
Pictured here: Melvin Edwards, Steel Life, 1985–91. Welded steel.