Modern Reflections of Coastal Landscapes, from Impressionist Painting to Contemporary Photography, Juxtaposed in Exhibition at the DMA

Artists from Childe Hassam and Edward Hopper to Gerhard Richter and Catherine Opie Showcased in “Coastlines: Images of Land and Sea” Opening on April 25, 2010

The Dallas Museum of Art will premiere an exhibition exploring how modern and contemporary artists—from Childe Hassam and Edward Hopper to Willem De Kooning, Gerhard Richter and Catherine Opie—have drawn upon coastal landscapes as a source of inspiration, metaphor and mystery in their work. Through selections from the Museum’s rich collections and important local holdings, Coastlines: Images of Land and Sea will juxtapose coastal landscapes from around the world and from a range of different artistic traditions. Featuring approximately 60 paintings, photographs and works on paper from 1850 to the present day, the exhibition will examine the symbolism and complex cultural significance of these environments as sites for both commerce and leisure.

On view from April 25 through August 22, 2010, Coastlines: Images of Land and Sea will be enhanced by an evocative sound installation relating and responding directly to the works on display. Created by faculty and graduate students in the Arts and Technology (ATEC) program at the University of Texas at Dallas, this multi-layer “sound-scape” will be heard throughout the exhibition and represents the most ambitious collaboration between ATEC and DMA to date.

The exhibition will open alongside the Museum’s presentation of The Lens of Impressionism: Photography and Painting Along the Normandy Coast, 1850-1874, on view through May 22, 2010. Together, the two exhibitions will give visitors an expansive overview of how artists have portrayed and responded to this subject over time and in various media.

Coastlines is an exciting example of the thought-provoking and innovative exhibition environment that defines the DMA experience,” said Bonnie Pitman, The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art. “The works on view in the exhibition range from spectacular and challenging to ethereal and meditative, and each piece transports the viewer to the familiar threshold where the land meets the sea. Drawn primarily from the DMA’s own modern and contemporary collections, the exhibition makes compelling new statements on a subject that is both timeless and constantly changing.”

Through its five thematic groupings, the exhibition will bring together diverse perspectives as it present impressionist paintings alongside contemporary photographs and abstract works on paper. Highlights include works by the iconic 19th-century painter Childe Hassam, who popularized impressionism in the United States with his lush city scenes and natural landscapes; Japanese American artist Yasuo Kuniyoshi’s bold image of the modern woman as a bather in the 1920s; and a recent minimalist seascape by photographer Catherine Opie that reduces the ocean to subtle, ethereal layers of color in which the human figure is almost overwhelmed by natural environment.

Coastlines provides visitors with evocative and engaging images of coastal landscapes, from Maine to Miami Beach, Nice to North Africa, through an array of artistic lenses,” said Heather MacDonald, The Lillian and James H. Clark Associate Curator of European Art at the DMA. “Coasts have been a source of ongoing artistic fascination throughout the modern period, and this exhibition draws exciting and unprecedented parallels between works with radically different aesthetic and cultural contexts.”

Organized thematically, Coastlines will include the following five groupings:

  • The Meeting of Land and Sea.
    This first part of the exhibition offers viewers an initial introduction into the complexities of coastal environments and the geographic dialogue between land and sea. Works in this section dramatize the fragility of the man-made in the face of the overwhelming power of the sea, and represent coastal environments marked in various ways by human intervention. Highlights include Edward Hopper’s hauntingly serene Lighthouse Hill (1927) and a contemporary photograph of the isolated coast of Greenland by Lynn Davis (Iceberg #25, Disko Bay, Greenland, 2000).
  • Coastal Labor, Seaside Leisure. T
    his section examines the opportunities for commerce, transportation and tourism provided by coastal settings. Artists in this section explore how the competing uses of space can create intriguing conflicts, such as in Paul Greenberg’s 1990 photographs of a Portuguese fishing village, where the traditional ways of seaside life are juxtaposed amidst the emerging structures of a modern tourist economy. Others, such as Chapman Kelley in his oil painting Sand Dune (1960), focus on the innocence and freedom of children’s play.
  • The Bather: Myth and Modernity. 
    This grouping traces the changing image of the bather, which has long been associated with the myths of Diana and Venus. In visual art, bathers have been both sensual icons and emblems of modernity. Highlights include John Marin’s Bathers (1932), which draws upon cultural associations of the nude female bather with nature itself, and Yasuo Kuniyoshi’s expressive Bather with Cigarette (1924), in which a new and modern image of the bather emerges.
  • From the Particular to the Universal
    Exploring the universal nature of coastal experiences, this theme highlights the broad range of cultural and aesthetic meanings associated with coastal landscapes. Each site, though unique and characterized by specific regional attributes, echoes others we have known. The artists in this section exploit this slippage between the particular and the universal. Highlights include Harry Callahan’s ethereal Horseneck Beach (1977) and Hans Hofmann’s jubilant abstract work Pamet Road, Wellfleet (1963).
  • The Spectacular Landscape
    In this section, the visual signifiers of coast and sea are distilled into studies of texture, color and shape. The works included reduce the ocean and its environs to purely visual phenomena, disconnected from their specific geographic locations. Highlights include Catherine Opie’s recent photograph of surfers in the Pacific Ocean (2003) and Hiroshi Sugimoto’s luminous black-and-white photographs of the Tyrrhenian Sea (1993).

Coastlines: Images of Land and Sea is organized by the Dallas Museum of Art and curated by Heather MacDonald, The Lillian and James H. Clark Associate Curator of European Art.

About the Dallas Museum of Art
Located in the vibrant Arts District of downtown Dallas, Texas, the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) ranks among the leading art institutions in the country and is distinguished by its innovative exhibitions and groundbreaking educational programs. At the heart of the Museum and its programs are its encyclopedic collections, which encompass more than 24,000 works and span 7,000 years of history, representing a full range of world cultures. Established in 1903, the Museum today welcomes more than 600,000 visitors annually and acts as a catalyst for community creativity, engaging people of all ages and backgrounds with a diverse spectrum of programming, from exhibitions and lectures to concerts, literary readings and dramatic and dance presentations.

The Dallas Museum of Art is supported in part by the generosity of Museum members and donors and by the citizens of Dallas through the City of Dallas/Office of Cultural Affairs and the Texas Commission on the Arts.