Interview by Cindy Rachofsky
Photograph by Jeremy Lock
NorthPark The Magazine
NorthPark Luxury Ambassador and renowned arts patron Cindy Rachofsky visits Agustín Arteaga, the Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art, in Switzerland during Art Basel.
DMA’S EUGENE MCDERMOTT DIRECTOR AGUSTÍN ARTEAGA. IN THE BACKGROUND, CHRISTOPHER WOOL, UNTITLED, 1990, ENAMEL ON ALUMINUM, 108 X 72 IN., DALLAS MUSEUM OF ART, GIFT OF THE FRIENDS OF CONTEMPORARY ART. © CHRISTOPHER WOOL.
Cindy Rachofsky: How was your first year in Dallas? What excites you about living here, and what do you find characterizes our city?
Agustín Arteaga: My first year here in Dallas has been wonderful. I love living in a city that is so energetic, that is transforming every day, where you see buildings coming up everywhere, a very active cultural life, and more than that, delightful, welcoming people—Dallasites are great! It is also nice to see how major corporations from around the world are settling here, bringing even more diversity to our community.
CR: México: 1900–1950 was a pivotal exhibition for the Dallas Museum of Art. The lines to see the show were exciting, and I know there were tremendous efforts to mount a show of this import in such a short time.
AA: I think this exhibition is building on the energy that the museum has had in recent years with great exhibitions like International Pop and Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots, which attracted nearly 70,000 visitors. México: 1900–1950 provided the people in Dallas the opportunity to discover great works of the Mexican modernists. There has not been, in years, anywhere in the world,
a show that gathers the most important masterpieces from artists such as Siqueiros, Orozco, Rivera and Kahlo. But not only that, it shows us that working along with them were other amazing artists who have captivated and impressed scholars as much as the general public.
I had curated the show for the Grand Palais in Paris, where it opened in early October 2016. It immediately became a great success, and members of the DMA Board and the community suggested bringing it to Dallas.
The show energized our relationship with our city; over 50 percent of the visitors who came on Sundays during our special program of sponsored DMA Family Days were new, first-time visitors. When the exhibition closed in mid-July, more than 125,000 visitors had seen it, and it is number two on the list of most-visited ticketed special exhibitions in the last 10 years.
CR: Tell us about the Yayoi Kusama acquisition.
AA: We are really lucky! Because of you and Howard, and your incredible generosity (including thanks also to the TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art Fund), we will soon acquire with The Rachofsky Collection All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins, one of Kusama’s signature Infinity Mirror Rooms. The installation is the first mirror pumpkin room created by Kusama since 1991, and the only Infinity Mirror Room of its kind in a North American collection. This is a great work of art that I am sure will invite a lot of curiosity and create a desire for people to visit. She is one of the most admired contemporary artists, and the experience of being in the Infinity Room is so unique and personal that there is no way to experience it other than being inside it. Having one in the collection will be a major attraction and an opportunity for our visitors. It opens on October 1, 2017, and I really hope that it will be not only a topic of discussion but also a joyful experience for all our visitors.
CR: I understand NorthPark Center photographed their fall fashion campaign at the DMA, which dovetailed nicely with the Iris van Herpen summer exhibition. How did the collaboration with NorthPark come about?
AA: NorthPark has been doing beautiful catalogues presenting fashion in the most exciting settings, like the Nasher Sculpture Center, and we were invited to be a venue for their fall women’s campaign featured in the launch of this new magazine. I had just arrived in Dallas last September when I first met with Nancy Nasher. We did a walk-through of the museum, and she explained to me how they produce the catalogues, and I saw how beautiful they are.
I really appreciate her and her husband, David, for being long-term supporters of our museum and of so many cultural institutions here in Dallas. I felt that the fashion shoot would be a great opportunity for us to display fabulous works of art.
CR: Truth: 24 frames per second offers an unprecedented glimpse into the Dallas Museum of Art’s film and video holdings. I imagine most museumgoers are largely unaware of the collection. What can visitors expect to see when the exhibition opens in October?
AA: This will be the first major DMA exhibition dedicated to time-based media. In it, we’ll bring together 24 pioneers of film and video and over six decades of work focused on pressing contemporary themes such as race relations, political unrest, sexual identity and the media, which explore the nature of truth and reality in contemporary life. It’s a big show that requires a large footprint, so we will show it in two locations—beginning in Chilton Gallery I on the north side of the museum, and stretching into our Hoffman Galleries at the other end of the Concourse, near the Ross Avenue Entrance. I think visitors will be surprised to learn that the DMA’s time-based media collection is incredibly rich, and it is an exciting resource for our understanding of contemporary life and important themes that are seen throughout the country today.
CR: The Dallas Museum of Art a decade from now. Will you share your vision?
AA: The DMA will have grown stronger and better, because we have a fantastic foundation and a great history from which we can build. Very important families have promised their extraordinary collections to the DMA, over 2,500 masterpieces, of contemporary art, along with other major works, from old masters to modern art. I believe that having talented curators and staff across all departments, all focused on creating the most exciting experiences for our visitors, will make our success.