Meditating on Materiality in the Meadows Collections

February 18–April 28, 2024

As the American sculptor John Chamberlain suggests, an artist’s process, as well as the meaning of the works they produce, begins with their materials. Decisions about which media to work with are typically informed by historical as well as practical concerns: woven linen, for instance, is well suited for clothing and, when prepared properly, can act as a support for an oil painting, but it is a less obvious choice for sculpture. In an effort to break from tradition, the artists featured in this exhibition intentionally challenge the limits of their materials, thereby encouraging viewers to expand their own understanding of the relationship between matter and meaning. The objects in Meditating on Materiality are grouped based on their substance, whether fabric, stone, metal, or wood. These arrangements elucidate each artwork’s individual story while exploring the particular characteristics of a given medium, highlighting the innovative ways in which modern and contemporary artists have approached their materials.

Meditating on Materiality brings together works from the Meadows Museum’s own collection of Spanish art with SMU’s Master of Fine Arts Collection (MFAC) and University Art Collection (UAC), which are stored in and cared for by the Meadows Museum. The MFAC comprises works of art by graduates of SMU’s Master of Fine Arts program, who are invited to donate an example of their work to the collection. The UAC consists of donations from alumni and friends of SMU and includes representative works by eminent local as well as international artists, such as Jim Love, Hildur Bjarnadóttir, Charles Pebworth, and Jill Moser. The Meadows Museum’s own collection is represented in this exhibition by some of our most celebrated modern and contemporary artists, including Pablo Picasso, Helen Escobedo, Alberto Giacometti, Xavier Corberó, Santiago Calatrava, and Rufino Tamayo. The selected objects, many of which are rarely displayed to the public, demonstrate the breadth of the Meadows Museum’s holdings, while offering a new context through which to interpret each work. Although the Meadows is primarily recognized as a museum of Spanish painting, Meditating on Materiality seeks to expand the public’s knowledge of the museum’s purview beyond the objects, and the materials, for which it is best known.

Meditating on Materiality in the Meadows Collections has been organized by the Meadows Museum, and is funded by a generous gift from The Meadows Foundation. Promotional support is provided by the Dallas Tourism Public Improvement District.



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Carrie Sanger
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