Dallas Museum of Art Presents 'Point, Line, Plane' Honoring Gift of Works on Paper

  • September 14, 2021 22:28

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Adolf Hiremy-Hirschl, Head of a Young Woman, 1890s, black and white chalk on brown paper, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of William B. Jordan and Robert Dean Brownlee, 2019.72.29
Berthe Morisot, Harbor Scene (Isle of Wight), 1880, watercolor on paper, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of William B. Jordan and Robert Dean Brownlee, 2019.72.39

Opening September 26 at the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA), a new exhibition honors a remarkable gift from the estate of distinguished scholar William B. Jordan and his husband, Robert Dean Brownlee. Celebrating the establishment of the Museum’s Works on Paper Department, Point, Line, Plane: The William B. Jordan and Robert Dean Brownlee Bequest is composed of approximately 50 works donated to the DMA by Jordan and Brownlee. The exhibition includes drawings, watercolors, prints, photography, sculpture, and decorative arts by some of the most important European and American artists of the past three centuries. Point, Line, Plane is curated by Sue Canterbury, The Pauline Gill Sullivan Curator of American Art and Interim Allen and Kelli Questrom Curator of Works on Paper. The exhibition is on view through January 9, 2022, and is included in free general admission. 

“Bill and Robert were kind, intelligent, and generous souls, invested in creating a lasting impact on the arts in North Texas and at the DMA,” said Dr. Agustín Arteaga, the DMA’s Eugene McDermott Director. “Together they built a wonderful personal collection that shows their admiration for the unique intimacy contained in works on paper. We were honored to be recipients of their generosity, and we pay tribute to their mission by sharing these treasured works with our visitors." 

Jordan and Brownlee were key figures in the arts community of Dallas–Fort Worth. While Brownlee’s focus was architecture and interior design, Jordan was a scholar and connoisseur of Spanish paintings. His influence on the region’s arts institutions is immeasurable. Serving as the founding director of the Meadows Museum (1967–1980) and as deputy director of the Kimbell Art Museum (1981–1990), Jordan raised the quality and profile of both collections. He began his affiliation with the DMA as an adjunct curator for European art (1977–1982) and evolved to become an invaluable member of the Museum’s Board of Trustees. 

Both deeply interested in art, the couple assembled a collection over decades that included works by Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Rosa Bonheur, Berthe Morisot, Auguste Rodin, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Salvador Dalí, Jackson Pollock, Josef Albers, Cy Twombly, Ellsworth Kelly, and Robert Rauschenberg, among others. While the collection varied in types of objects and historical eras, works on paper were at its core. Point, Line Plane features approximately 50 works spanning the ancient to the contemporary, demonstrating an enduring fascination with artists’ use of expressive line, the depiction of the figure, and dialogues across media. 

Ellsworth Kelly, Untitled, 2001, single-color lithograph, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of William B. Jordan and Robert Dean Brownlee, 2019.72.31, © Ellsworth Kelly Foundation, Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery

“While Bill and Robert collected across several media, it is apparent they appreciated drawings in particular for their immediacy as visible revelations of an artist’s initial concept. It is extraordinarily intimate in that it’s akin to witnessing the birth of the creative spark, no matter how long ago that moment took place,” said curator Sue Canterbury. 

The DMA’s Works on Paper Department was established in 2019 through a group of visionary gifts to the Museum: a gift from the estate of Jordan and Brownlee, which provided significant funds to establish The William B. Jordan and Robert Dean Brownlee Endowment to support the department; the creation of a new, endowed curatorial position, The Allen and Kelli Questrom Curator of Works on Paper, made possible through an extraordinary $3 million bequest to the Museum by Allen and Kelli Questrom; and Jordan’s and Brownlee’s donation of nearly 80 works to the Museum, including 58 works on paper as well as antiquities, 20th-century furniture, 19th-century oil paintings, ceramics, sculpture, and silver. 

For more information, visit DMA.org

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