TWO X TWO Much More Than Four
TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art is a defining feature of the arts landscape in Dallas. It has shaped not only the collection and exhibition program of the Dallas Museum of Art, but also the collecting community in the city and the relationship Dallas has with other arts communities both nationally and internationally. Ultimately, the history of a collection is not just a history of objects; it is a history of people—and this essay will explore the histories of the people who have made possible both the fundraiser and the DMA collection that has reaped its benefits since 1999.
The fundraiser's origins can be located in the relationships between close friends and benefactors of the DMA. Deedie Rose, who was President of the Museum at the time, was approached by Laura Carpenter with the idea for the Museum to partner with amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, on a fundraiser that would benefit both groups. Carpenter, who had been at the helm of the premier gallery in Dallas and would later move to New York and Santa Fe, was Rose's introduction to contemporary art. She had been discussing with their mutual friend Anne Livet the important work amfAR had been doing when the plan took shape. Rose was initially skeptical, as she didn't want to duplicate efforts being dedicated to the Museum's spring fundraiser, but was convinced by the idea of the partnership. "Dallas was ripe for this kind of thing," Rose declared. "We had the crowd"—referring to the robust base of active and curious collectors. Indeed, what sets Dallas apart is the civic-minded nature of many of its prominent collectors, exemplified by the promised bequest of the collections of Rose, Howard and Cindy Rachofsky, and Robert and Marguerite Hoffman to the Museum, a magnanimous act to which we will return.
Carpenter and Livet envisioned the Richard Meier-designed Rachofsky House as the ideal venue for the event, and Rose made the introduction. The Rachofskys have hosted TWO x TWO ever since, putting their indelible mark on the annual fundraiser—not just because of the setting, but also because of their hospitality. Rose notes the unparalleled generosity of the Rachofskys, who spend the year leading up to the event preparing for it. And this generosity pays off. The fundraiser's structure allows it to attract all ages. For example, the First Look event at the House, which occurs the Thursday before the benefit, has a more casual feel (2017 featured a denim dress code and carnival games) and a lower point of entry. The excitement that gathers around these "sneak peeks" (the auction catalogue is now listed online in advace) creates buzz "so you feel like you're not cheating the artists," says Rose.
Howard Rachofsky served as the fundraiser's first honorary co-chair with actor and activist Sharon Stone. (Stone is amfAR's Global Campaign Chair; in 1998 she announced she would serve in that role until a safe and effective AIDS vaccine is developed.) amfAR was founded in 1985 to end the worldwide AIDS epidemic through cutting-edge research, and is well known for the strides it has made in this fight. By teaming up with amfAR, Rose says "we had the ability to reach artists and performers that a local, regional museum could not." The name had been decided, Rose said, because with this powerful combination "TWO x TWO has raised more than $75 million for AIDS and art.
The inaugural year's roster of artists is proof of the strength of this partnership. It included both veteran and emerging artists such as Janine Antoni, John Baldessari, Matthew Barney, Lynda Benglis, Nicole Eisenman, Nan Goldin, Ann Hamilton, Jenny Holzer, Zoe Leonard, Sol LeWitt, Paul McCarthy, Keith Sonnier, and Rachel Whiteread. The selection is perhaps most striking for its inclusion of the leading women artists of the past half century, which has likewise become an increasingly important defining characteristic of the DMA collection and the collections that are promised by bequest to the Museum, and hints at one of the most influential aspects of the fundraiser. TWO x TWO serves as the point of introduction for many artists who were hitherto unknown to collectors in Dallas. For example, through the fundraiser, Rose acquired her first work by Argentine conceptual artist Liliana Porter. She is now a leading U.S. collector of South American women artists, most notably the Brazilian artists Lygia Clark, Lygia Pape, and Mira Schendel.
This is a sentiment echoed by Dallas-based art consultant John Runyon: "Every year collectors are introduced to artists' work that they have never seen before or dealers in attendance whom they had never met." The reason, he suggests, is that "we are gifted works that are museum-quality and quite rare. These could be works by artists in high demand with low output or from an estate with a finite supply of material." Runyon cites several examples:
_One frequent supporter who learned about the Korean Dansaekhwa movement at TWO x TWO subsequently acquired an _ entire installation by these Korean artists. Another Dallas collector was astute and fortunate enough to acquire an amazing Michaël Borremans painting at TWO X two well before prominent institutions, including the Dallas Museum of Art, hosted exhibitions...A collector in Dallas acquired a painting by Mark Bradford years before his astronomical trajectory and inclusion in the 2017 Venice Biennale.
Perhaps most importantly, entire collections have formed in the fundraiser's wake. As Runyon explains,"Collecting can be an intimidating endeavor. Where does one begin? TWO x TWO is a fantastic entrée to an otherwise vast and complicated world. Both new and established collectors can see the value and opportunity in these scenarios, not to mention the support of two worthy causes."
Nowhere is the impact of this support more apparent than in the recent growth of the Museum's contemporary collection. When TWO x TWO started in 1999, the contemporary collection comprised 1,900 objects. It now contains 3,500 objects, 600 of which were acquired with TWO x TWO funds. The works are diverse, but unifying themes emerge. The DMA is now known for its impressive holdings of work by postwar German, Italian, Japanese, and Latin American artists, as well as its extensive collection of time-based media. Although the Museum has continued to acquire significant work by artists from the US and Western Europe, we are now able to speak to the transnational development of the most significant postwar artistic movements in the foundational period of the 1950s through the early 1970s, when the notion of a globalized contemporary art world was still nascent. A brief history of the collection's development follows.
Our holdings in German art were the very first to benefit from TWO x TWO, and our inaugural purchase became a cornerstone of the contemporary collection. In 1999, we acquired the complete set of editions by Gerhard Richter, becoming the first and only institution to do so. A series of objects, prints, and photographs, Richter's multiples have proven key to understanding his complex conceptual practice, which is characterized by an exploration of the properties of mass production and photography.
The DMA already had a history of exhibiting postwar German art—curator Annegreth Nill organized an Encounters exhibition of the work of Günther Förg in 1992. (The DMA is also co-organizing a 2018 retrospective of his work that will open concurrent to this publication.) TWO x TWO funds were then used to acquire seminal works by Sigmar Polke, including Clouds (1989) [2000.388] and Potato Machine, or Apparatus Whereby One Potato Can Orbit Another (1969) [2001.319], simultaneous to an exhibition of his work, Sigmar Polke: Recent Paintings and Drawings, 1998-2003, organized by Director John R. Lane and the Lupe Murchison Curator of Contemporary Art Charles Wylie in 2002. In the following years, Wylie acquired important photographs by Thomas Struth and Thomas Ruff to complement our holdings with an important selection of conceptual German photography. The DMA thus became one of the most important collections of German contemporary art outside of Germany.
The beginning years of TWO x TWO also initiated another defining element of the contemporary collection. In 1998, the museum began to collect time-based media, and TWO x TWO provided the funds to make significant early acquisitions. In 2001, Soliloquy (1999) [2000.320.A-B] by Shirin Neshat entered the collection, a multichannel room-sized installation and the first of its kind at the DMA. Suzanne Weaver, who served as the Nancy and Tim Hanley Associate Curator of Contemporary Art from 1995-2008, became an important champion for time-based media, later curating Phil Collin's the world won't listen (2004-2008) [2008.12.1.A-M], which quickly became a crowd favorite. (She acquired a photograph by Collins, becoming more like us , with TWO x TWO funds in 2006.) The Museum celebrated the depth of our holding in 2017 with Truth: 24 frames per second, an exhibition of twenty-four artists—ten from the permanent collection—who grapple with the framing of reality in film and video.
After the Hoffman, Rachofsky, and Rose families committed by promised bequest the entirety of their collections to the Museum in 2005, the DMA's contemporary collection grew exponentially, as did the Museum's reputation as a leading force in contemporary art. To celebrate, María de Corral, the former director of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, curated the inaugural exhibition of works from the bequest. She also organized a solo presentation of Olafur Eliasson, whose work later came into the collection through TWO x TWO funds in 2006 and 2009 (a group of 48 photographs called the Jokla series ]4] and a 2008 installation, The outside of inside, respectively).
Thus began a series of retrospectives of European-and US-based artists, which continued with Jeffrey Grove, who in 2009 became the Museum's first Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art. He would go on to curate solo exhibitions of Jim Hodges in 2013 (with the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago) in 2014, and Michaël Borremans (with BOZAR, Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels) in 2015. These artists had also previously come into the collection with TWO x TWO funds: in 2006 we acquired Isa Genzken's Door (1988) [2006.46], and in 2009, Jim Hodges's and still this (2005-2008) [2008.33.A-J]. In 2012 Michaël Borremans's The Devil's Dress (2011) [2012.3] entered the collection. Thus, as works are acquired with TWO x TWO funds, exhibitions often follow.
Kevin Tucker, The Margot B. Perot Senior Curator of Decorative Arts and Design from 2003 until 2015, also used TWO x TWO funds to strengthen our collection of contemporary design, acquiring diverse works by Louise Campbell, Fernando and Humberto Campana, and even a porcelain work by Cindy Sherman. This more expansive notion of what constitutes contemporary art gets to the core of the true impact of the fundraiser on the Museum.
As suggested above, TWO x TWO FUNDS have allowed the Museum to widen its scope of collecting modern and contemporary art far beyond the confines of the US and Western Europe. Grove hired Gabriel Ritter, the Nancy and Tim Hanley Associate Curator of contemporary Art from 2012 until 2016, and together they acquired significant holdings of Japanese art that also mirrored the collecting interests of Howard Rachofsky. Ritter is a scholar of Japanese Surrealism, among other areas of specialization. The Japanese artists Sadamasa Motonaga, Tsuruko Yamazaki, Kazuo Shiraga, and Shōzō Shimamoto of the 1950s Gutai movement were acquired by Grove with TWO x TWO funds in 2012, as were artists of the later Mono-ha movement of the 1960s and 70s: Nobuo Sekine, Kishio Suga, and the Korean artist Lee Ufan. In 2015, Ritter acquired Time Strata (2006) [2015.8.A-C] by Shinro Ohtake, who first burst onto the art scene in the 1980s, and numerous works by younger Japanese artists.
The cumulative holdings of the DMA and The Rachofsky Collection reflect how Dallas has become an important center for the exploration of the transnational development of diverse modes of abstraction, informalism, and conceptualism. An exhibition held at the Warehouse in 2015 and curated by Allan Schartzman, Director of The Rachofsky Collection, Geometries On and Off the Grid: Art from 1950 to the Present, exemplifies this, taking geometry as a point of departure. Artists from North and South America, Europe, and Asia were shown together to demonstrate how similar practices had developed in those regions, both independently and as the result of intense dialogue between artists in disparate centers of production.
Gavin Delahunty, who succeeded Grove as Hoffman Family Senior Curator, a position he held from 2014 until 2017, was intimately involved in that project. Delahunty specializes in the art of the 1960s, and he subsequently curated a series of exhibitions of postwar masters. When he first arrived in Dallas, Delahunty organized Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots, which featured a series of black paintings the artist made from 1951-1953 and garnered both popular success and critical acclaim. He would then go on to acquire with TWO x TWO funds an early painting by Jackson Pollock, Figure Kneeling Before Arch with Skulls (c. 1934-1938) [2017.7], that showed the influence of the Spanish Baroque painter El Greco. This painting allowed us to round out our important Pollock collection so that we now have works in all media, including the large painting Portrait and a Dream (1953) [1967.8], a 1956 plaster sculpture, an early print, and of course, Cathedral [1950.87], the founding work in the Contemporary department. (In 1950 the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts was smong the first public institutions to acquire a classic-era painting by the seminal artist.) Delahunty would then curate Walter De Maria: Counterpoint (2016), which juxtaposed a work by El Greco with a sculptural group by the Minimalist artist, the Large Rod Series: Circle/Rectangle 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 (1986) [2015.47.1.A-I], that subsequently came into the collection with TWO x TWO funds. (The work is co-owned by SFMOMA.) TWO x TWO served as sponsor to both these exhibitions, and funds have gone increasingly towards programming. This year, for example, all contemporary shows at the Museum received support from TWO x TWO. What began as funding for the Concentrations series, which features emerging artists in their first US solo museum show, has blossomed into a commitment for a majority of recent contemporary programs.
Delahunty also filled important lacunae by acquiring a number of works by women artists and artists of color with TWO x TWO funds, including paintings by Ann Craven, Jacqueline Humphris, Julie Mhretu, and Joan Semmel, and an iconic steel relief by Melvin Edwards entitled Machete for Gregory (1974). And it was the DMA's commitment to broadening dominant narratives of contemporary art that first attracted me to the Museum when I was hired as the Nancy and Tim Hanley Associate Curator of Contemporary Art in 2016. As a specialist of Latin American modern and contemporary art, I have sought to build off the Museum's holdings in those areas and supplement the robust collection of contemporary work by Mexican, Argentine, and Brazilian artists promisted by bequest. Fittingly, my first acquisitions were a series of consumer readymades by the Mexican-born Gabriel Orozco (Untitled [OROXXO], L-5-P01), as well as a major work in Adriana Varejão's Jerked-Beef Ruin series, which responds to the legacies of the Brazilian Baroque, modernism, and popular cultures. Inspired by how these artists incorporated into their work the sociopolitical context out of which it arose, I also acquired a work by the Chicago-based ceramicist, sculptor, and social practice artist Theaster Gates, who went on to become the 2018 Nasher Prize Laureate.
Of course, none of this would be possible it if were not for the generosity of the artists and their galleries, who donate works each year. Every year an artist is honored for their contributions to the field, receiving the amfAR Award of Excellence for Artistic Contributions to the Fight Against AIDS in recognition of their support of amfAR's programs. In 2000, the first honoree was Robert Rauschenberg. Funds were then used in 2002 to acquire Rauschenberg's lithograph series, XXXIV Drawings for Dante's Inferno (1965). The following years celebrated veteran artists like Julian Schabel and Ed Ruscha, a trend that continued through 2015, when Ellsworth Kelly was the honoree. Works by these honorees hang in our Concourse gallery, celebrating the relationship between the artist, the Museum, and the larger community. Indeed, the fundraiser has succeeded in cementing long-term relationships with honored artists. Cecily Brown had never been to Dallas before being honored in 2005. There she "saw some great art, met fabulous collectors and got to see Barry Manilow sing a capella!" Brown recalls returning to Dallas in 2016 to "take part in a symposium about Pollock at the extraordinary show at the Dallas Museum. That was enormously enjoyable, especially being able to spend time with the works among scholars and artists who are fellow Pollock groupies."
More recently, the fundraiser has made a major commitment to artists in their midcareer, and the Museum subsequently serves as a platform fo rtheir work. In 2016, TWO x TWO honored Laura Owens, whose work we acquired with TWO x TWO funds in 2005, and from March 25 to July 29, 2018, the DMA hosted an exhibit on Laura Owens's work. In 2017, TWO x TWO honored Jonas Wood, and in 2019 we will host a major solo exhibition of his work. The exhibition will showcase Snowscape with Barn (2017) [2018.22], a 2018 TWO x TWO purchase. Wood has received a lot of support from the local community, which acquired work from his first few shows, but hadn't spent much time in Dallas before the fundraiser brought him. "I had an amazing time at the fundraiser last year, which was my first time in Dallas for more than ten hours," Wood says. "I'm excited to come back and support Dana Schutz this year."
This brings us to the present moment. TWO x TWO has selected Dana Schutz as the honoree for 2018, and with that, the fundraiser has doubled down on its promise to support artists at important points of their careers. Dana Schutz, like Laura Owens, is one of the most important painters of her generation and has been a mentor to numerous young artists who have picked up the brush. TWO x TWO, for the past twenty years, has been the recipient of tremendous generosity from artists and their galleries who donate their art to support amfAR and the DMA. By honoring artists each year, TWO x TWO seeks to repay that generosity through highlighting their achievements. For the Museum's part, the DMA strives to serve as a locus of exchange, where contemporary art can be exhibited in the context of the broader collection and discussed and debated in public programs and educational initiatives. The Museum looks forward to many more years of dialogue engendered by the contributions of contemporary artists whose works have entered into the collection through TWO x TWO.
Anna Katherine Brodbeck, ed., TWO X TWO X TWENTY: Two Decades Supporting Contemporary Art at the Dallas Museum of Art (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art), 2018.
See the Richard Meier-designed, art-filled house.