DIA News February 2011

In This Issue
Director's Letter
Detroit Film Theater
Black History Month
Laurie Anderson at the DIA
Did you know...
Tigers at the DIA

Director's Letter

Graham W.J. Beale, Director 

Many people think museums are contained within their walls, and while that's true to some degree--we can't box up the art and take it on the road--the DIA is active in our community in a variety of ways every day. The Community Group Program, run by our Learning and Interpretation Department, brings art experiences to adults and children, community and school groups, and health and social service agencies.

We currently have partnerships with Adult Well-Being Services in Detroit and Romulus and the Veterans Administration Hospital in Detroit. These groups have a long history with the DIA, some stretching back over a decade. Groups come to the museum for a two-hour program, comprising a gallery tour designed to develop skills for looking at art and a hands-on, art-making experience in our studio in the Wayne and Joan Webber Education Center. Studio experiences encourage personal expression and reflection through art and are designed to give individuals experience with a variety of art-making materials. Whether they are forming pinch pots, painting tiles, or creating collages, participants come to understand that creativity resides in all of us--it is simply a matter of expression. Shelley Knoodle, an art therapist at the John D. Dingell Veterans Administration Medical Center, is completely committed to the DIA program: "The guys absolutely love the opportunities they experience while at the DIA. The intrinsic benefits are immeasurable."

To further celebrate work produced by community members, we have recently organized exhibitions in the Walter Gibbs Gallery at the end of each four-class session. The exhibitions are an enormous hit with our emerging artists and their families.

When it is difficult for the community to come to the DIA, we have found ways to take the DIA to the community. One notable program is a partnership with Children's Hospital of Michigan, now in its third year. Every Friday afternoon in clinics, activity rooms, and often at bedside, DIA studio artists work with young patients on art projects. Whether pre-school or pre-teen, the children jump into the spirit of the projects immediately, and family members and caregivers are welcome to join in. The program has been so warmly received we are hoping to expand it to other hospitals in our area.

I am pleased to say that DIA sponsors respond positively to our ongoing efforts to extend the museum's reach as far into the community as possible, and corporations supporting our educational efforts include Bank of America (open days for teachers), Buddy's Pizza (school field trips and art activities), Chase Bank (Detroit school field trips), and Target (school field trips). Through these efforts, the DIA goes well beyond the traditional "collect, exhibit, and interpret" role and plays an active part in the life and learning of tens of thousands of people from our region and beyond.

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Oxan Aslanian "The Master of Berlin," Head of a King


Fakes, Forgeries, and Mysteries

Through April 10, 2011
Special Exhibition Galleries: South

Because of the tremendous talent of some forgers, it can take an incredible amount of labor on the part of museum researchers to separate forgeries from authentic pieces. For a long time the sculpture above successfully passed for ancient Egyptian art--a nearly flawless square fragment depicting the head of a king with damage only evident in a secondary area in one of the corners. The carving shows excellent craftsmanship, but scholars could not agree on the dating of the piece. That, combined with an unclear provenance, raised doubts about its authenticity.

Oxan Aslanian was a twentieth-century forger of Egyptian art who was known as the "Master of Berlin." Born in Armenia in 1887, he immigrated to Syria and Egypt before settling in Berlin, where he was a dealer in Egyptian art and antiquities. He kept photographic records of some of the forgeries he created, including the one at the DIA. Despite his expertise, Aslanian could not remove all traces of his own style. For example, in the DIA piece, researchers became suspicious because it included characteristics from a time period other than the one it supposedly represented.

To learn more about how curators, conservators, and scientists determined the authenticity of this work and others, check out these videos.

Timed tickets are necessary to see the exhibition. Click here to purchase them. Members see the exhibition free. Don't forget to bring your cell phone to access Director Graham Beal's audio commentary on the exhibition. The cell phone gallery guide is provided free of charge; however, you will use your cell phone minutes while connected, regardless of your carrier. A printed copy of the tour is also available.

Oxan Aslanian "The Master of Berlin," German; Head of a King, about 1925; granite. Formerly unknown artist, Egyptian, either Saite period, 664-525 B.C.E., or New Kingdom, 1570-1085 B.C.E. Collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts.

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An Intuitive Eye: André Kertész Photographs, 1914-69

Through May 29, 2011
Albert and Peggy de Salle Gallery of Photography

Andre Kertesz, "At Mondrian's"

André Kertész, American, born Hungary; At Mondrian's, 1926 (printed 1971); gelatin silver print. Founders Society Purchase, Elliott T. Slocum Fund. © Estate of André Kertész/Higher Pictures


In 1925, André Kertész moved from his native Budapest to Paris to pursue a serious career as a photographer. While there, he met avant-garde dancers, poets, and painters, including Alexander Calder, Marc Chagall, and the writers Colette and Tristan Tzara, who became the subjects of his photographs and influenced his work. Struggling with a new language, Kertész initially kept close to a circle of fellow Hungarian friends and acquaintances. Eventually, his contacts with the art community grew and he acquired access to many pioneering artists of the early twentieth century. Just one year after his arrival in 1926, he met Dutch painter Piet Mondrian. Although Kertész and Mondrian could barely communicate with one another--Kertész still spoke little French even after a year in Paris--the photographer was, nonetheless, invited several times to photograph at the artist's residence, which also served as a studio.

Kertész was inspired by Mondrian's theory that art, in part, called for the reduction of a painting's subject matter to line, space, and color. In one of his best-known images of his career, Chez Mondrian, Kertész carefully composed the photograph--a view into the studio vestibule emphasizing the strong horizontal and vertical lines of the interior while maintaining balance through the symmetrical arrangement of light and dark geometric areas. Kertész was perhaps alluding further to Mondrian's philosophy that control and balance of a painting's formal elements, when combined with a minimal visual language, could be synonymous with an ideal and harmonious balance between individuals and their environment.

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Detroit Film Theatre

Still from Academy Award® nominated short subject "Let's Pollute" 

Still from Academy Award nominated short subject "Let's Pollute"

Still from "The Crush" 

Still from "The Crush"


Even though they are often some of the most creative and entertaining films of the year, the Academy Award® short-subject nominees are the most difficult to see, because commercial theaters don't traditionally show them. That's why the Detroit Film Theatre is proud to present a complete program each year of all the nominated films, in both the live action and animation categories.

This year, the five nominees in the live action category include films from the United Kingdom, the United States, Ireland, and Belgium, while the animation entries hail from the United States, France, Germany, and Australia. All ten of these visionary and innovative works are presented in a three-hour program with a brief intermission between the animation and live action categories. The Academy Award Nominated Short Films will be shown for two weekends, beginning on February 11 and continuing through February 20. DFT show times are Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. Predict the winners after seeing the shorts at the DFT, then confirm your critical skills by watching the awards on February 27.

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Black History Month

Still from "Soundtrack for a Revolution" 

Black History Month at the DIA includes programs about African American history and culture in multiple areas--music, movies, art, lectures, and family-oriented activities--every weekend in February. All Friday Night Live performances and Sunday events during the month relate to the theme.

The weekend of Friday, February 11, through Sunday, February 13, is the busiest, starting with Friday Night Live featuring master trumpeter Rayse Biggs at 7 and 8:30 p.m. Biggs, along with a group of the hottest jazz players in the Detroit area, performs his highly charged style of Motown jazz, while exploring the music of past trumpet masters Lee Morgan and Freddie Hubbard. Saturday, February 12, brings a 4 p.m. showing of Soundtrack for a Revolution (above), a film that tells the story of the American civil rights movement through its music--the "freedom songs" performed on picket lines and in jail cells by artists including John Legend, Joss Stone, Wyclef Jean, Richie Havens, the Roots, Blind Boys of Alabama, and the Carlton Reese Memorial Unity Choir. The importance of the songs are illuminated further through archive footage and interviews with Harry Belafonte, Julian Bond, and Andrew Young.

William T. Williams, the 2011 recipient of the Alain Locke International Award, presents "Merging Life and Art in Abstraction," a discussion of his forty-year career, on Sunday, February 13, at 2 p.m. Currently a professor of art at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, he is known for his abstract paintings and prints and is acknowledged as the initiator in 1968 of the Studio Museum in Harlem's renowned Artists-in-Residence program. The Alain Locke Awards, in their nineteenth year, are awarded to those individuals who are dedicated to the promotion and understanding of African American culture. Also on that Sunday at 2 p.m., Ivory D. Williams, president of the Detroit Association of Black Storytellers, presents interactive and entertaining stories for both youth and adults.

For more information on February activities and events, visit the DIA Web site.

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Laurie Anderson at the DIA

Laurie Anderson 

In 2003, Laurie Anderson, one of today's premier performance artists, became NASA's first--and so far only--artist-in-residence, gaining access to space telescopes, the Johnson Space Center, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Scale and time, as observed from the space agency's technological perspective, became paramount to her experience of the universe's vastness and the inspiration for her The End of the Moon project. At the DIA, Anderson reconsiders her NASA residency in a lecture format.

NASA began its art program in 1963. Approximately 250 artists have contributed to the agency's collection, including Robert Rauschenberg and Norman Rockwell. In explaining it's program, curator of the NASA collection Bertrram Ulrich said, "Art is what's left behind of history. It's a way to document something for future generations."

Anderson's lecture on Wednesday, February 16, is free and open to the public, however, a complimentary pass is needed to enter the 7 p.m. talk. To obtain a pass, go to http://laurieandersondia.eventbrite.com/ and click on the orange Register button.

Sponsored by Charlene Handleman in memory of David Handleman on behalf of Friends of Modern and Contemporary Art.

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Did You Know...

That between July and December 2010, four out of every five general admission visitors came from Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, and Washtenaw counties? During that same period, nine out of every ten general admissions, including members, were from the state of Michigan. An analysis of 30,000 zip codes shows that visitors came from all fifty states and the District of Columbia. The fewest number of out-of-state guests was one from North Dakota (Hawaii had four and Alaska six). After Michigan, the largest number of visitors came from California, Ohio, New York, Illinois, Florida, and Texas, in that order. The highest percentage of out-of-state ticket buyers was 19 percent in August, while the lowest was 11 percent in November.

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Tigers at the DIA

Detroit Tigers in Rivera Court 

The Detroit Tigers made the DIA one of the stops on their 2011 Winter Caravan Tour, an annual trip around the state prior to the start of spring training. Among the players who toured were Magglio Ordońez, Jhonny Peralta, Max Scherzer, Scott Sizemore, and Jose Valverde, along with general manager Dave Dombrowski and mascot Paws. After the gallery tour, which included commentary in Spanish by exhibition curator Salvator Salort-Pons, the group spent time in the DIA Lecture Hall answering questions from visitors, particularly the kids in attendance. At the end of the event, Dombrowski presented DIA Executive Vice President Annmarie Erickson with a Tiger jersey with DIA 125 on the back in honor of the museum's 125th anniversary. The Tigers were impressed with their visit and said they'd be back next year. Longtime Detroit News baseball writer Tom Gage summed it up on his blog, saying he "enjoyed the caravan stop at the Detroit Institute of Arts because the DIA itself is so enjoyable--and the people there are so helpful. Hadn't been there for a few years, but it won't be that long again."

Pitchers and catchers report February 13 in Lakeland, Fla., for the start of spring training.

For more photos of the Tigers at the DIA, click here.

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