In this festive yet frenetic month, it’s the perfect time to stop and savor the best things about the past year. In 2017 that list might be shorter than usual, but at the very top of it are unmissable shows at DFW-area museums. Take your family and friends to see these six essential exhibits while they're visiting for the holidays.
Casanova: The Seduction of Europe at Kimbell Art Museum
Through December 31
Casanova is most famed for his role as the libertine’s libertine, and his memoir “The History of My Life” became a much larger success than any fictional story he penned. Notorious for seducing everyone from married ladies to men to the occasional nun, his rake’s progress took him across the European continent from his native Venice to Saint Petersburg. “Casanova: The Seduction of Europe,” tells his story through paintings, furnishings and fashionable tableaus sourced from the 18th century. Lush and lavish, the exhibition embraces its subject’s love of adventure, pursuit of l’amour, and shifting identity with supporting characters that include Catherine the Great and Benjamin Franklin. Although the only image of the man himself is outside the galleries, observers feel as though they’re walking alongside this legendary lover — perhaps most successfully in the “Adult’s Only” room of playing-card-sized erotica only viewable through a magnifying glass.
Wild Spaces, Open Seasons: Hunting and Fishing in American Art at Amon Carter Museum of American Art
Through January 7, 2018
The first major museum exhibition to take on the world of the sportsman, “Wild Spaces” explores the evolution of outdoor traditions through the early 1800s to World War II. Uniquely American, the landscapes, still lifes and portraits were sourced from across the U.S., as well as the Carter’s permanent collections. Painted by the likes of Thomas Cole, Thomas Eakins, Winslow Homer, Augustus William T. Ranney, Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait, and George Bellows, the canvases show hunting as a leisurely pursuit, a livelihood, a perilous undertaking, and as a foundation of the American myth. Together, they offer a glimpse of our infinitely fertile country before the onslaught of urbanization and industrialization. Nature is the star of the show here, and the skillful works in “Wild Spaces” serve as a cry for the appreciation of the pleasures of the hunt as well as an elegy to North America’s former wilderness.
Salvador Dali: Visions of Eternity at the Arlington Museum of Art
Through January 21, 2018
Throughout his career, master surrealist Salvador Dali took on mythology, science, literature, and religion, illustrating everything from “Alice in Wonderland” to “Don Quixote.”
In “Visions of Eternity” at the Arlington Museum of Art, viewers can dive into the “The Divine Comedy” through a complete series of lithographs designed to accompany Dante’s classic work. Originally commissioned in the early ‘50s by the Italian government to commemorate the septecentennial of the writer’s birth, the works were initially not well received, and it took Dali’s French publisher to help them see the light of day over a decade later. With 30 or 40 wood blocks required to create just one print, the luridly colored images of “Eternity” make the journey through Purgatory, Inferno, and Paradise a kaleidoscopic experience.
Yayoi Kusama: All the Love I Have For the Pumpkins at the Dallas Museum of Art
Through February 25, 2018
Popping up all over social media this fall, the hashtag #KusamaPumpkins was a way for insiders to prove they were lucky enough to snag a spot to view DMA’s most essential new exhibit. The only Kusama pumpkin room owned by a North American institution, this dazzling work can be seen by purchasing tickets the third Monday of each month on the museum’s website. Famous for her eye-popping installations and love of polka dots, Yayoi Kusama’s “infinity nets” are derived directly from the Japanese artist’s hallucinations. Entering the mirrored room filled with resin gourds is a disorienting yet delightful experience — one made even more intense by the 45-second window you’re allowed to become part of the art. As “Pumpkins” is now owned by the museum in conjunction with the Rachofsky Collection, we hope that these particular fruits will be in season well into spring.
Truth: 24 Frames Per Second at the Dallas Museum of Art
Through January 28, 2018
Dallas Museum of Art’s first time-based media show, “24 Frames” gets its name from both the number of participating artists and a legendary quote from New Wave director Jean Luc Godard (“Cinema shows truth at the rate of 24 frames per second.”) Ranging from the impactful (Bruce Connor’s “Report,” a look at the media’s manipulation of the Kennedy assassination) to the incendiary (Mark Bradford’s misogynistic standup parody “Spiderman”), the flickering films in “24 Frames” offer up the artists’ own version of reality. The works examine contemporary themes such as political unrest, race relations, and sexual identity while inspiring the viewer to question everything they see. At a time when we can’t always trust what's projected in front of our eyes, plan on repeat visits to absorb them all.
Murillo at the Meadows: A 400th Birthday Celebration at Meadows Museum, SMU
Through December 2, 2018
An exploration of the sublime, the Meadows’ new show of Spanish master Bartolomé Esteban Murillo features five paintings in the museum’s possession paired with works by his Sevillian contemporaries. The shining star of the city’s artistic scene in the 17th century, Murillo was most successful in portraying religious subjects, visible in both churches and the homes of the wealthy across the city. His ability to capture a subject’s innate sweetness may have led critics to dismiss his portraits as perhaps less substantial than the era’s more sober artists, but his dynamic brushwork makes even the most sentimental of canvases worth another look.