The Meadows Museum at Southern Methodist University is internationally recognized not only for its collection of Spanish art, one of the finest outside of Spain, but for its distinguished collection of modern and contemporary sculpture from the 19th to the 21st century. The sculpture collection includes 21 significant works, all of which will be showcased together for the first time in a new exhibition, Face and Form: Modern and Contemporary Sculpture in the Meadows Collection, ongoing beginning October 7, 2009.
The sculptures will be displayed both indoors and outdoors on the museum’s new entry plaza, which has just completed a six-month renovation following several years of planning. The official plaza dedication will be held at 6 p.m. on October 7, and is open to the public.
“This fall, we are celebrating the new face of the Meadows Museum,” said Dr. Mark Roglán, museum director. “With this exhibition, we are able to showcase our exceptional collection of sculpture in a way it has never been seen before. Many of the works have undergone cleaning and conservation treatment in preparation for the exhibition, and have been installed on new limestone pedestals. We are also welcoming our new monumental sculpture Sho by Jaume Plensa, our most important acquisition by a living artist since Calatrava’s Wave in 2002. The newly renovated plaza, with its green spaces, gravel paths, and viewing benches, featuring beautiful illumination of the sculptures at night, provides a welcoming environment for the entire community.”
Eleven of the works were donated in the late 1960s and early 1970s by museum founder Algur H. Meadows for the establishment of an outdoor sculpture garden in honor of his second wife, Elizabeth. The collection began with Meadows’ purchase and donation in the mid-to-late sixties of several dozen works by contemporary Italian artists, some of whom he had met personally. While most of these Italian works have since passed out of the collection, the Museum retains two by Marino Marini – Crouching Woman (1934) and Horse and Rider (1951) – and a 1969 portrait bust of Elizabeth Meadows by Giacomo Manzù.
Over the next few years, the collection shifted in focus, in an effort to align its quality and art historical relevance with that of the Spanish collection. In 1969, Meadows donated six outstanding sculptures to the museum. These included Auguste Rodin’s Eve in Despair (1915), originally commissioned from Rodin by famed American gun manufacturer Samuel P. Colt; David Smith’s Cubi VIII (1962), an Abstract Expressionist work of geometric forms in polished stainless steel; Henry Moore’s biomorphic bronze Three-piece Reclining Figure No. 1 (1961-2); Jacques Lipchitz’s La Joie de Vivre (1927), an ll-foot-tall cubist composition of two interacting figures; Fritz Wotruba’s Figure with Raised Arms (1956-7); and Aristide Maillol’s sensuous and dignified The Three Graces (1937-9). The following year, Meadows gave the museum two more works: Alberto Giacometti´s Femme de Venise VI (1956), an excellent example of the artist’s elongated interpretations of the female figure, and Claes Oldenburg’s Pop Art Geometric Mouse II (1969-70), a commissioned piece based on the same sculpture that had been featured at the artist’s retrospective at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1969 and subsequently purchased by Governor Nelson Rockefeller.
This founding collection (known as the Elizabeth Meadows Sculpture Collection) represents superb examples of 20th-century sculpture, ranging from the forceful and intellectual humanistic presence of Rodin’s work to the more figurative and cubist characteristics of Maillol and Lipchitz. It includes works by some of the most important European artists, such as Moore, Giacometti, and Marini, as well as works by their American colleagues, such as Oldenburg and Smith. Visually, the collection offers the beauty of different materials and surfaces, including cold smooth marble, polished metal plates, and bronze casts.
The works served as a guide for future museum acquisitions of modern and contemporary sculpture, including Spirit’s Flight (1979) by Isamu Noguchi, commissioned from the artist in honor of Algur Meadows after his unexpected death in a car accident in 1978. Spirit’s Flight, which was displayed for years in front of the Meadows School of the Arts, will be installed on the museum’s renovated plaza. Another significant addition to the collection was Wave (2002), the iconic kinetic sculpture by Spanish artist and architect Santiago Calatrava, as well as two smaller Calatrava works – the marble and granite Il Dente (1999) and the arching, delicately balanced Palme (1998). Other acquisitions by Spanish artists include Blue Note (1992) and the classically-inspired Four Columns (1980) by Xavier Corberó, and Luminosa (1996) by Gerardo Rueda.
Other recent important additions to the contemporary sculpture collection, thanks to the generosity of the late Mrs. Shirley Pollock, include Aeróvoro (1979) by Martín Chirino, an elegant, wing-like sculpture of wrought iron, and the solid silver, jewel-like Angulo dinámico (1976) by Helen Escobedo.
This year, the Meadows Museum acquired a monumental contemporary work by Barcelona native Jaume Plensa titled Sho (2007), a 13-foot tall openwork mesh sculpture depicting the head of a young girl. It will be installed in the center of the new entry plaza. The internationally acclaimed Plensa is known for his monumental figural sculptures that often incorporate film, light, letters and unusual materials in order to present familiar objects (such as the human body) in unfamiliar ways. Sho is considered one of his most dynamic and accomplished works.
The museum also will feature two corollary exhibitions in its first floor galleries illustrating the fascinating processes used by Plensa and Calatrava in the creation of their monumental sculptures on display in the Meadows outdoor spaces. Both works required teams of specialists and used a combination of 21st-century technology and impeccable craftsmanship, resulting in meticulously engineered final works of art. Santiago Calatrava: The Making of Wave will include preparatory drawings and watercolors of Wave from different angles, shedding light on Calatrava’s creative process, as well as photographs and other materials showing the more practical details of the sculpture’s creation and installation. Jaume Plensa: The Making of Sho will feature a number of photographs from Plensa’s studio depicting Sho in various stages of production while explaining the creative and construction process in greater detail. It also will highlight the installation of Sho at other venues before it arrived at its final destination in the center of the Meadows Museum’s new plaza and sculpture garden. Both exhibits will be on view through February 21, 2010.
Face and Form: Modern and Contemporary Sculpture in the Meadows Collection will showcase works outdoors on the newly redesigned entry plaza and indoors in the Jake and Nancy Hamon Galleries. The new entry features a fountain and reconfigured access stairs leading up to the sculpture plaza from Bishop Blvd. The plaza’s innovative design features grassy areas, gravel paths, benches and 15 large movable planters, creating a multitude of possible layouts. A new overlook on the plaza provides a dramatic view of Calatrava’s Wave, permanently installed below the plaza at street level.
A publication about the Meadows Museum’s holdings of modern and contemporary sculpture is planned for fall 2010. It will feature photography of the sculpture in the Jake and Nancy Hamon Galleries and in situ on the plaza, and will provide essays on the Elizabeth Meadows Sculpture Collection and its art historical importance.
Face and Form: Modern and Contemporary Sculpture in the Meadows Collection is organized by the Meadows Museum and has been funded by a generous gift fromThe Meadows Foundation.
About the Meadows Museum
The Meadows Museum, a division of SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, houses one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of Spanish art outside of Spain, with works dating from the 10th to the 21st century. It includes masterpieces by some of the world’s greatest painters: El Greco, Velázquez, Ribera, Murillo, Goya, Miró and Picasso.
The museum is located at 5900 Bishop Blvd. on the campus of SMU, three blocks west of the DART light rail Mockingbird Station. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday; and 12-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $8 per person, $6 for seniors, free on Thursday evenings after 5 p.m., and free for children under 12, museum members, and SMU faculty, staff and students. Ample free parking is available in the museum garage. For information, call 214.768.2516 or visit www.meadowsmuseumdallas.org.