Operation Big D: Art In the Third Dimension

It is super easy to access the Nasher Sculpture Center from either the Crow Collection or the Dallas Museum of Art; they are all within a block of each other. We walked across the street and into the modern, beautiful structure housing the sculptures. Unlike the first two aforementioned museums, you had to pay admission for this one, but we didn’t mind, as there are discounts for students (with ID), as well as other exceptions. Since the rain outside left the museum rather empty, a museum employee personally led us through the main lobby and out to the courtyard.

The courtyard is possibly the best feature of the museum. It was wet out, but the building’s architecture provided a sort of awning to where you could still gaze out and appreciate the sculpture work. The highlight of this gallery is the yard, where huge lines of trees shade humongous steel works of art, which bend beams and bars into acrobatic shapes. The most memorable of these was a steel knot with beams heading through a pair of intertwining rings. And positioned in front of a verdant green lawn, strings of glowing electric lights, and the reflective mirror of a blue glass skyscraper add even more to the photo op-inviting view.

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You take a right from the lobby, past the sculpture garden, and enter the sculpture indoor wing through the indoor/outdoor cafe, where relaxed people sip coffee and eat pastries and good-looking cakes. Down the hall and to the right, we entered the sculpture gallery, which was a sight to see. There is a lot of stuff going on in here. Almost all of it was abstract, and the few ones that were realistic weren’t really made for younger audiences (see my MASTER TRAVELER TIP in my DMA post). But against a white, contrasting background, all of the work stands out. There was one sculpture of a stick figure moving a chessboard, a cartoon-ish clothespin, and a strange Picasso work from 1931 made of bronze. This is “Head of a Woman,” which looks less like the head of a woman and more like a front-facing Dory with a lopsided eye. Personally, I prefer Picasso’s on-canvas work, but seeing his expression in this medium was at least interesting, seeing him rely more on bulky shapes instead of trademark color patterns.

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But the award for the most thought-provoking sculpture went to a certain work in the very back. In the middle of the paneled wood floor stands a tall, curvy… I can only describe it as a plank. You have a bronze plank jutting vertically out of the floor, which leaves a lot to be determined by the viewer. There is little explanation, no context clues other than the gradual widening on the top, like the upper part of an exclamation point. To further confuse you, the plank doesn’t even have a name. If you look at the plaque behind it, it just reads “Untitled, 1986.” I would think someone who spent time and effort creating a metalwork like this would at least be able to come up with name. Now, although I struggled to understand this artwork, I will say that does pop out in this secluded part of the gallery. The black plank with its curvy upper third, it sticks out among the flat, straight lines of the floorboards, stones on the walls, and ceiling rafters. It sticks out and looks interesting, and I can appreciate that.

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Untitled, 1986 by Ellsworth Kelly

Abstract art is meant to make you contemplate and interpret for its secret meaning, comparing your own conclusions to those of your contemporaries. The Nasher Sculpture gallery accomplishes that; it makes you think. And I respect that.

Afterwards, we ate at the nearby El Fenix restaurant, a classic Mexican restaurant in downtown. I got an enchilada and taco combination, which were great examples of Tex-Mex cuisine. Paired with chips and salsa, it’s hard to image a finer morning in Dallas.

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