Story + Photographs
by JR Compton
with Comments by Kathy Dello Stritto
Richard Serra's My
Curves Are Not Mad, 1987
Cor-Ten steel - 168 x 539 x 139 inches
I walked through Richard
tunnel (above) hundreds
of times when it was out in front of the Dallas
of Art, but when I emerged from the far end of
this familiar steel tunnel this time, I wasn't
Thanks to these two men — and a lot
of other people, of course — Dallas now, finally,
has a world-class collection installed in,
of all places, the Dallas Arts District. That's
Nasher Director Dr Steven
A Nash on
the left talking with Nasher collector and dreamer Raymond
D Nasher after the press tours.
Mark di Suvero - Eviva Amore, 2001
Steel, 424 X 564 X 360 inches
In some ways it's a splendid dream come true. A spectacular
collection in a remarkable location in a techno-thriller
building in the thick
of downtown Dallas. All of Dallas' best museums are no
40 miles west of here.
It is not, of course, perfect in every way, but we'll
pick those nits after I gush a bit more and show my favorites
of the photographs I took on press opening day.
Roy Lichtenstein - Double
painted bronze - 56 x 42 x 17 inches
Looking at Roy's 17-inch deep sculpture (above) was
a lot easier
from the other side — without the early
in my eyes, but that wouldn't give you tempting glimpses
of the NSC's lush garden grounds.
The quest for the best sculpture garden in Dallas now
has a spectacular entry (although Valley
House Gallery's sculpture garden is quieter, gentler,
more natural and has a lot more Dallas sculptors).
The Nasher even has special grass that they actually
want us to stray from the cement paths to walk all over.
After all, you can't properly see sculpture without seeing
it from all angles. Nice of the Nasher to notice.
August Rodin - Eve, 1881
(detail) cast before 1932
bronze - 68 x 17 x 25 inches
From the outside (below), Eve is
just the sort of figurative sculpture
many would expect a sculpture garden to have, although
plenty abstracts and visual puns are out there,
too. I was
like, so I ducked under and shot up
into her face. Nobody warned me to get back away from
the art, like they routinely do across the street.
I shot 117 photographs on Press Day, and we'll use
more in these pages over the
coming months. Meanwhile, let's go inside to see
of the wonders in the wide open spaces
of the building without a roof.
Kathy took copious notes through the talks by Ray
Nasher and Steven Nash and others, so
perhaps she'll discuss the architectural
wonders they were all so proud of. I
was there to make photographs, so that's what I'll
concentrate on here.
Kathy's eventual piece will be on the
Eat Art page soon.
No ahs or ums through
Ray Nasher's fast paced talk — and darned
I kept waiting
for him to stop, so I could photograph him
pausing. He never did.
This guy knew what he wanted to say,
said it, gently answered questions, then sat down.
Our kind of world-class
art collector. We were impressed.
David Smith - 9/15/53,
steel on iron base
Last time I saw this many David
Smiths (nine here), I was at the National
Gallery in Washington DC. This time, I was six and
my house and, thanks to press day at the Nasher,
the parking was free.
When I was a student at the University of Dallas nearly
forty years ago, a book of his work set my soul on fire
to photograph art. We go way back.
Pablo Picasso - Head of a Woman,
1960 - oil on canvas
and Head of a Woman, 1957 - painted steel
I liked that the Nasher thought enough of the art
experience to show us comparisons
of two and three D work
the same artists.
I counted eight Picassos inside and one big,
new one outside.
Plus nine by Henri Matisse,
Gabo, a couple
of Alexander Calders,
Max Ernst, five Raymond
Duchamp-Villons, an even
Giaccomettis, a couple of Paul
Gauguins, a half dozen August
Rodins, a large-scale Magdalena
Rossos, two Joan Mirós,
the major Richard Serra,
the very familiar NorthPark hammering Jonathan
Borofsky, two Julio
Constantin Brancusi, George
Dubuffet, Barbara Hepworth,
and enough other top rank sculptors to make your
Despite that there's nary a Dallasite in
the mix, it's an amazing collection.
Now, about those nits:
during the talks the auditorium with the removable
wall so the stage can face out into a small amphitheater,
someone spoke inordinately hypish about their marvelous
and I wondered
slow-load site. It does.
If I listed it on the Artists
With Web Pages page, I'd have to slap
it with a PSDLT moniker — Painfully
Slow DownLoading Time. Animated, annoying,
and so slow responding, I had to shut it
off before I got anywhere close to what I
was looking for. No prob, if you have high
Worse — very unlike the Dallas
Museum of Art's paved, high-walled 3D garden
Nasher is noisy.
Not only can the clutter, clot and construction
of downtown Dallas be seen over the low walls
around the garden, it can be heard. The crashing
din all but prohibits conversations on
though well down in the
garden it is quieter.
The tech of the uniquely suspended metal sunscreen
"roof" of this "roofless" structure
enough — the
cheese grater grid of north facing holes
does keep the interior space brightly shadowless,
unless the indoor
are used more dramatically than we saw.
But what happens if
a raccoon or squirrel runs across
it — or a sudden
flock of pigeons lands up there? Five or ten
pound difference on the roof, they told us,
It's nice to view north, out into the deep
green of newly planted, fully formed trees
view out of or into the front glass wall is
The five component galleries
are narrow, shotgun
spaces with little variation. They seemed
aery and spacious but look ordinary and cramped.
Just how versatile can a row of
with permanent, parallel Italian travertine
architectural drawings on the CD in the press
photos of the sculptureless façade
center to the street, which the PR squad proudly
promoted, means cars and buildings reflected
in the big glass front wall, which is kept
dark, shaded from view.
I was not impressed, but Kathy liked the city
reflected in the glass front and likened it
to an annimated installation painting or performance.
"The building doesn't bother me, but the
logo does. [She] wanted it to be stronger." She
spoke to a French architecture writer who said
logo was "as subtle as the architecture."
Ray Nasher called
the site "an empty parking lot next to
a major freeway," and of course they have
to promote it, since they've just spent so
much money on the place. But if you were hoping
the center would be a a work of art full of
smaller works of art, you'll be disappointed.
We wonder what architecture critics
will say once The Nasher settles in — say
a quarter century from now. Will we look back
and wonder what were they thinking?
unremarkable as the building is, it served
its purpose well enough?