In This Issue
Director’s Letter
New on View
Fash Bash

Director’s Letter

Graham W.J. Beale, Director

The DIA has one of this country’s strongest collections of Dutch seventeenth-century art, a direct consequence of engaging, first as an advisor and then, in 1925, as director, William Valentiner. Valentiner had wide tastes that ranged from modern art to Islamic textiles, but his core area of expertise was Dutch painting, in general, and Rembrandt, in particular. He acquired Rembrandt’s exquisite Visitation in 1927 and, over the years, purchased with museum funds, or helped DIA patrons purchase with the museum in mind, many of the works in our extraordinary collection. These acquisitions include paintings by landscapists Salomon van Ruisdael and Jacob van Ruisdael, still-life painters Willem Kalf and Claes (Nicolaes) van Heussen, and genre pieces by Jan Steen and Hendrick van der Burch. As a firm believer that the Dutch “Golden Age” ended right around 1675, he did not acquire many marine paintings, a lack we feel more keenly these days when we look at the individual achievements of Willem van de Velde the Younger and, in still-life flower painting, Jan van Huysum.

But whenever I talk about our great Dutch collection there is one lack that I feel above all: a painting by Johannes Vermeer. Even the most conservative of specialists accept about 400 paintings as being authentic Rembrandts. But for Vermeer, it’s more like a tenth of that amount. As I commented in an earlier letter, Vermeer was actually “written out of the history books,” with his entire oeuvre dispersed among other artists until he was “reconstituted” by a French connoisseur and critic in the mid-nineteenth century.

Although a few Vermeers came onto the market in the first half of the twentieth century, there is no evidence that Valentiner pursued them. The great Artist in the Studio, now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, was under consideration by a notable New York art museum–not the Met–and Valentiner seems to have decided not to go after it for Detroit. Talk about kicking yourself! In the last thirty years, the last two known Vermeers in private hands found their way into public institutions and, even if there is one or more lurking in the shadows, just imagine the price it would command if it came onto the market. A Cézanne–one of four versions of The Card Players–is said to have sold for $250 million. What price Vermeer?

Thanks to the generosity of the Trustees of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., on August 8 the DIA reopens its Dutch galleries (third floor, south wing) with a very special, short-term addition: Vermeer’s Woman Holding a Balance, on view for four weeks. I am deeply grateful to the NGA’s director, Earl A. Powell III, as well as to Arthur K. Wheelock, Jr., the curator of northern baroque paintings, for supporting my request of this loan as a demonstration of the standing the DIA has in the international art museum world–a standing that enables us to bring such exhibitions as Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus, and Fabergé: The Rise and Fall to this region.

Graham Beal Signature
Graham W. J. Beal

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Woman Holding A Balance


August is the time to see peerless masterpieces and unique photographs by a renown cultural icon before they disappear from view at the end of the month.

vermeerVermeer: Must-See Masterpiece

August 8-September 2
Dutch Galleries

Through his sensitivity to light, color, and composition, seventeenth-century Dutch virtuoso Johannes Vermeer transformed seemingly ordinary subjects into expressions of perfect balance and harmony, and Woman Holding a Balance, on loan from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., is a perfect example.

The balance in the center of the composition is empty except for the light coming from the window. The woman’s pensive stillness suggests she may be weighing something more profound than the earthly treasures of pearls and gold jewelry before her. The painting of the Last Judgment hanging behind her reinforces this interpretation, drawing a parallel to the weighing of souls.

Above: Johannes Vermeer, Dutch; Woman Holding a Balance, ca. 1664; oil on canvas. National Gallery of Art, Widener Collection

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spanishFive Spanish Masterpieces

Through August 19, 2012
Special Exhibition Galleries: Central

Portrait of the Matador Pedro Romero

Francisco de Goya, Spanish; Portrait of the Matador Pedro Romero, ca. 1795-98, oil on canvas. Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas. © 2010 Kimbell Art Museum

Less than three weeks remain to see the four oil paintings by Spanish masters in this exhibition celebrating the return of Pablo Picasso’s Melancholy Woman to Detroit after two years on the road on loan to several prestigious museums. Along with the Picasso, Francisco de Goya’s Portrait of the Matador Pedro Romero, El Greco’s The Holy Family with St. Anne and the Infant St. John the Baptist, Salvador Dalí’s Soft Construction with Boiled Beans, and Diego Velázquez’s Portrait of a Man represent the breadth and depth of Spanish painting.

Dalí’s flamboyant personality and eccentric appearance were a match for his surrealist images. In homage to his iconic mustache, which rendered him immediately recognizable, the DIA is offering free museum admission to any visitor (male, female, young, old) who sports a mustache (real or fake) between Friday, August 3, and Sunday, August 5.

That weekend, visitors can also enjoy The Dalí Project,a puppet performance that explores Dalí’s world using puppets (Bunraku, rod, shadow), projections, found objects, unique set and furniture design, mood music, and sound effects to mirror the surrealist’s unusual methods of making art. The Friday and Saturday shows are appropriate for adults only; Sunday’s performance is family friendly, appropriate for ages eight and older.

The Dalí Project is made possible through a contribution from Groupon.

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smithPatti Smith
Camera Solo

Through September 2
Albert and Peggy de Salle Gallery of Photography

My Father's Cup

Patti Smith, American; My Father’s Cup, 2004,; gelatin silver print. Courtesy the artist and Robert Miller Gallery, New York. Image credit: © Patti Smith

The photographs in this exhibition, open until the end of the month, reveal a rarely seen side of Patti Smith: the people, places, and objects that hold significant personal meaning for the pioneering musician, author, and artist. The more than sixty photos explore the rich relationships between art, architecture, poetry, and the everyday and include symbolic portraits (Robert Mapplethorpe’s slippers, her father’s coffee cup) of important people in her life.

In conjunction with exhibition, the seven-minute video Equation Daumal, 2008, directed by Patti Smith and shot by Jem Cohen on 16mm and super 8 film, runs continuously in the south wing screening room (2nd floor) starting at 1 p.m.

This exhibition was organized by the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut. In Detroit, the exhibition is supported by the City of Detroit. Seating for the screening room installation of Equation Daumal, 2008 has been provided by IKEA.

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picassomatissePicasso and Matisse
The DIA’s Prints and Drawings

Through January 6, 2013
Schwartz Galleries of Prints and Drawings

Henri Matisse, French; Icarus, Jazz Plate VIII, ca. 1943; pochoir. Gift of John S. Newberry © 2012 Succession H. Matisse/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

White Pigeon, Black Background

Pablo Picasso, Spanish; White Pigeon on Black Background, 1947; lithograph. Founders Society Purchase, Hal H. Smith Fund © 2012 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

In 1947, Matisse was seventy-eight years old, Picasso sixty-six. That year each released exceptional prints representative of their long careers as innovative and influential giants of twentieth-century art. Four years in the making, Matisse’s Jazz was a book project and print album of twenty pochoirs (handmade stencil prints) based on compositions initially made as cut-out shapes of brightly colored paper. It was the publisher who suggested the title Jazz as a metaphor for Matisse’s improvisational, lyrical working method and the subject matter reminiscent of circus themes.

Picasso’s White Pigeon on Black Background was produced in a spurt of activity over a three-day period, one of many such sessions that fostered unprecedented methods and a wide range of lithographic effects. Picasso was most likely standing right at the press bed and brushing a syrupy acid substance onto the printing stone or plate to achieve the mottled look of the bird’s feet and feathers, further manipulating the surface to get the softer, grayer effect in the animal’s chest and wings.

This exhibition has been organized by the Detroit Institute of Arts. Support has been provided by Comerica Bank. Additional support has been provided by the City of Detroit.

Comerica Bank

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Pill Spill

Beverly Fishman’s installation Pill Spill (left), on view in the contemporary galleries through the end of the year, juxtaposes eighty-six hand-blown glass capsules in varying sizes, colors, and patterns. Representing pharmaceutical pills, the capsules are configured to underscore a viewer’s personal relationship to medications. These tantalizing yet paradoxical pills–glass capsules that won’t dissolve–serve as a reminder that medicine can be both a cure and a poison. Fishman initially created a larger Pill Spill for the Toledo Museum of Art, where she served as artist in residence in 2010 as part of the institution’s guest artist Glass Pavilion project.

For more than two decades, Fishman’s largely abstract work in different media has explored the human relationship to science and medicine by mixing optical patterns with vibrant colors and representational elements taken from pharmaceutical and scientific imaging systems. Another work by Fishman, C.E.L. 109, is part of the DIA’s permanent collection and can be seen in a nearby gallery. Pill Spill remains on view through the end of the year.

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DFTDetroit Film Theatre

The Bank Dick

The last month of the DFT 101 matinee series begins on August 4 with the second part of the five-hour Les Misérables, considered the greatest screen adaptation of Victor Hugo’s nineteenth-century novel of the same name. Also on the schedule are The Bank Dick, hailed as one of W. C. Fields’s best films, and All Quiet on the Western Front, perhaps the greatest of antiwar films.

In The Bank Dick, henpecked husband and father Egbert Sousé (Fields) would rather hang out at the notorious Black Pussy Cat café (where the bartender is played by Shemp Howard) than spend time with his less-than-adorable family or–horrors!–get a job. But after unwittingly capturing a bank robber, he is rewarded with a job for which he is utterly unqualified: the bank’s new security guard.

The power of All Quiet on the Western Front to shock and disturb has hardly diminished over the decades. The extraordinary use of sound and much of the relentless, graphic imagery, coupled with a daringly unpredictable structure, evokes the terrors of World War I combat faced by a group of idealistic German schoolboys persuaded to join the military.

All DFT 101 showings are at 2 p.m., Saturdays, except for Les Misérables, which begins at 4 p.m., in the museum’s Lecture Hall and are free with museum admission and for DIA members. Enter through the Woodward or Farnsworth doors. For more information on these films and the rest of the summer schedule, click here.

The DFT is presented by Buddy’s Pizza.

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fashbashSummer Nights, City Lights: Fash Bash

Fash Bash 2012

Fash Bash®, the DIA’s fashion extravaganza, returns for an evening of fashion, food, and fun on Thursday, August 16. The event includes a Neiman Marcus “Art of Fashion” show in the Great Hall and pre- and post-fashion show cocktail parties celebrating summer nights and city lights. Click here for more information or to purchase tickets.

Sponsored by Founders Junior Council

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