‘For a Dreamer of Houses’ Evokes Personal Spaces

The Dallas Museum of Art presents For a Dreamer of Houses, an imaginative new exhibition of contemporary art that explores the significance of the spaces we inhabit and how they represent ourselves, our values, and our desires.

Opening March 15, 2020, in the Museum’s grand Barrel Vault and Quadrant Galleries, the exhibition takes inspiration from philosopher Gaston Bachelard’s influential 1958 book The Poetics of Space and his use of the house as a metaphor for psychological and cultural development. Fifty-four works in a variety of media by more than 35 artists from around the globe demonstrate the evocative power of domestic objects and structures.

Almost all of the works are from the DMA’s permanent collection, including nine new acquisitions being shown for the first time and works by 10 artists with connections to Texas.

“Exciting recent additions to our contemporary collection provided the opportunity to organize this exhibition, which relates compelling artworks to an enduringly fascinating text,” said Dr. Agustín Arteaga, the Eugene McDermott Director of the DMA. “With these large-scale and highly immersive new works, along with treasures from the collection that go as far back as 1950, we hope visitors will be introduced to new ways of looking at everyday items to discover much deeper meanings.”

The organization of the exhibition thematically corresponds to five chapters in Bachelard’s book, with major recent acquisitions highlighted in each section:

  • “Intimate Immensity” refers to the physical awareness that arises when realizing one’s small place in a vast world, exemplified by Pipilotti Rist’s Massachusetts Chandelier, made of many pairs of intimate clothing, and Janine Antoni’s Grope textile sculpture of men’s pants pockets.
  • “Drawers, Chests, and Wardrobes” features household objects that conceal private desires — playful sculptures by Olivia Erlanger, Sarah Lucas, and Robert Pruitt — or haunting memories commemorative works by EJ Hill, Doris Salcedo, and Danh Vo.
  • “Dialectics of Inside and Outside” explores physical, psychological, and social boundaries. Alex Da Corte’s neon house-frame installation, Rubber Pencil Devil, lures visitors in to watch a sequence of absurdist videos. Three-dimensional works by Margaret Lee, Betty Woodman, and others hover between mediums.
  • “Shells” interprets buildings as expressions of their inhabitants’ personalities. Do Ho Suh recreates an entryway to his childhood home in delicate fabric, in a work titled Hub, 260-10 Sungbook-dong, Sungbook-ku, Seoul, Korea. This section includes a broad selection of photographs that depict living spaces by 15 artists including Judy Fiskin, Misty Keasler, and Annette Lawrence.
  • “Nests” focuses on rooms as containers for relationships. In Chapel, Francisco Moreno borrows a historical structure and personalizes the interior with an epic collage of cultural references. Paintings, photographs, and works on paper by Jacob Lawrence, Clementine Hunter, Bill Owens, and others show gatherings of friends and families.

“Artists have long depicted the home as site for self-discovery, encounter, and community,” said Dr. Anna Katherine Brodbeck, the Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art and organizer of the exhibition. “This exhibition allows us to explore how artists today are engaging with that theme in exciting and ambitious ways, challenging our preconceptions of identity formation and cultural exchange.”

Visitors can further explore the artists and themes in For a Dreamer of Houses in a series of public programs throughout the exhibition’s presentation. Confirmed events, with more to come, can be found at DMA.org. They currently include:

  • Late Nights: Homegrown. Friday, March 20, 6 p.m.– 11 p.m. Tickets $10 public (some exhibitions require an additional ticket), $5 students (with valid ID), free for DMA members.
    There’s no place like home! Celebrate Texas History Month, and our new exhibition For Dreamer of Houses, with an evening of homegrown artists, musicians, filmmakers, and more.
  • Film Screening: For a Dreamer of Houses.  Saturday, April 4, 1 p.m. Tickets $5, free for DMA members and students. See pivotal works of video art on the big screen in this curated lineup of showings. Featuring works by artists Tacita Dean, Martine Syms, and Suzanne Lacy.
  • Artist Panel: For a Dreamer of Houses.  Thursday, April 30, 7 p.m. Tickets $5, free for DMA members and students. DMA curator Dr. Anna Katherine Brodbeck will speak with three artists from the new exhibition For a Dreamer of Houses. Hear from Olivia Erlanger, EJ Hill, and Francisco Moreno on how their work relates to concepts of space, home, and belonging.

For a Dreamer of Houses is organized by the Dallas Museum of Art and will be on view through Jan. 31, 2021. This presentation is made possible by Hall Arts Hotel, the TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art Fund and by the DMA Contemporary Art Initiative. The exhibition is ticketed at a special rate of $9 for adults, with discounts for seniors, students, and military.

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