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    Skeletons Out of the Closet

    A survey of museum tours celebrating Halloween, Day of the Dead, and more

    Frida Kahlo, the Spanish fresco botched in an amateur restoration, Michael Heizer’s rock. These are some of the do’s and don’ts our online colleagues have suggested for your art-themed Halloween costumes.

    At museums, meanwhile, bats and black cats have come out of storage, along with a parade of skeletons from around the world. While all galleries remain closed on the East Coast, their counterparts in the rest of the country are still in the seasonal mood. Some have organized tours around themes like the macabre and the carnivalesque; others just happen to be showing art that fits right in. Increasingly, the focus is not just on Halloween, but the more solemn (yet deliriously festive) celebrations honoring the dead in Latin and Caribbean cultures.

    Here are some highlights compiled by our interns, Maximilíano Durón, Miao Jiang, Mila Pinigin, and Claire Voon.

    Altar Egos
    Day of the Dead celebrations are getting bigger and bigger. At the Nelson-Atkins in Kansas City, Mexican artist Betsabeé Romero is collaborating with Jenny Mendez from Mattie Rhodes Center to lead a team of local artists in creating a traditional altar. The piece honors two recently deceased cultural figures: author Carlos Fuentes and singer Chavela Vargas.

    COURTESY MARK MCDONALD AND NELSON-ATKINS MUSEUM OF ART, KANSAS CITY.

    It’s the Great Munch Pumpkin
    MoMA got into the spirit by commissioning a pumpkin to promote its showing of The Scream (a show that happens to feature a few vampires). It’s on the counter in the entrance to the museum offices.

    Maniac Pumpkin Carvers, The Scream, 2012, carved pumpkin.

    IMAGE REPRODUCTION COURTESY OF THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, NEW YORK. PHOTO BY MAXIMILÍANO DURÓN.

    Winged Victory
    Marcel Dzama goes batty in “Fairy Tales, Monsters and the Genetic Imagination,” a traveling exhibition now at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

    Marcel Dzama, Welcome to the land of the bat, 2008.

    COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND DAVID ZWIRNER GALLERY, NEW YORK.

    Bead It:
    Barron Lacroix, a Gede spirit rendered in beads by Roudy Azor is in the Fowler Museum’s “In Extremis: Death and Life in 21st‐Century Haitian Art.” The piece is part of a kids’ program celebrating Fèt Gede, Haiti’s festival of the ancestors, November 4.

    Roudy Azor, Barron Lacroix, 2010, polyester, beads, thread.

    FOWLER MUSEUM AT UCLA X2010.17.1/MUSEUM PURCHASE, THE JEROME L. JOSS ENDOWMENT FUND.

    Dancing in the Streets
    Henrik Martin Mayer, who was born in New Hampshire and once ran the Wadsworth Atheneum, found inspiration for his 1938 painting Halloween Carnival in the Halloween celebrations once held on Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis. It’s in “All Hallow’s Eve,” one of the “Tag Tours” at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

    Henrik Martin Mayer, Halloween Carnival, 1938, oil on Masonite.

    GIFT OF MRS. HENRIK MARTIN MAYER, 77.62.

    Bone to Pick
    A woodblock print from “Collection Tour: Kuniyoshi: Graphic Heroes, Magic Monsters” at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Kuniyoshi was a big influence on today’s manga and anime artists.

    Utagawa Kuniyoshi, In the Ruined Palace at Sôma, Masakado’s Daughter Takiyasha Uses 
Sorcery to Gather Allies (Sôma no furudairi ni Masakado himegimi 
Takiyasha yôjutsu o motte mikata o atsumuru), ca. 1844 (Kôka 1), woodblock print (nishiki-e); ink and color on paper.

    WILLIAM STURGIS BIGELOW COLLECTION. PHOTOGRAPH ©MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, BOSTON.

    Head Trip
    A bizarre Gauguin sculpture is featured in an audio tour for “Demons, Angels, and Monsters: The Supernatural in Art” at The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Scholars believe the figure may be a self-portrait. The head, known from photographs the artist pasted into his manuscript Noa Noa, was rediscovered in the 1990s.

    Paul Gauguin, Head with Horns, 1895-’97, wood with traces of polychromy.

    THE J. PAUL GETTY MUSEUM, LOS ANGELES. ACCESSION NO. 2002.18.

    Dream Interpretation
    Yinka Shonibare riffs on a famous Goya print in “Fairy Tales, Monsters and the Genetic Imagination” at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

    Yinka Shonibare, The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (America), 2008.

    COLLECTION OF JAMES P. GRAY, II.

    What’s Halloween Without a Black Cat?
    A beloved Steinlen poster from “Collection Tour: Halloween” at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

    Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen, Collection of the Chat Noir, 1898, lithographic poster, printed in black and red.

    ERNEST WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW FUND AND PARTIAL GIFT OF JAMES A. LAP. PHOTOGRAPH © MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, BOSTON.

    Go Sister
    A painting by Chicana artist Patssi Valdez paying homage to scholar and author Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz is in “Día de los muertos 2012,” a celebration featuring Ofrendas, installations, and artworks created by Mexican artists from both sides of the border, at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago.

    Patssi Valdez, October/Octubre, 1995, acrylic on canvas.

    NATIONAL MUSEUM OF MEXICAN ART PERMANENT COLLECTION, 1997.32, PURCHASE MADE POSSIBLE BY ABE TOMÁS HUGHES AND DIANA GIRARDI KARNAS IN MEMORY OF RAY CHAVEZ, PHOTO: KATHLEEN CULBERT-AGUILAR.

    Some Enchanted Evening
    Henri Rousseau in the “Halloween Themes in Art” tour at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

    Henri-Julien-Félix Rousseau, Carnival Evening, 1886, oil on canvas.

    THE LOUIS E. STERN COLLECTION, 1963. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM OF ART.

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