In the latest example of a major museum bolstering its resources in Latin American art, the Dallas Museum of Art has received major gifts from local patrons for acquisitions and staffing in the field, which it has a long history of studying.
Linda Marcus has given the museum $1 million to jumpstart an acquisition fund for Latin American art in her name and in memory of her late husband, Stanley, who died in 2002. In addition, Jorge Baldor, a local entrepreneur, has endowed the newly created position of curator of Latin American art, who will be tasked with organizing exhibitions and programming from throughout North America, the Caribbean, and Central and South America, from their time as colonies of Spain until today.
The Marcuses had previously been trustees of the museum, with Stanley, the former president of the Neiman Marcus department store, serving for over 60 years. He donated more than 300 works to the museum across curatorial areas, and spearheaded some of its acquisitions in pre-Columbian and Latin American modern art, including Rufino Tamayo’s 18-foot-long mural painting El Hombre (1953).
Daldor’s donation follows his support, as lead funder, of “México 1900–1950” (2017), which was the second-most-visited exhibition in the history of the museum.
The museum has also received five works through gifts from Baldor and other sources, including a full-scale study for Miguel Covarrubias’s mural Genesis, The Gift of Lifeincluding, a 1944 Roberto Matta, a 1938 Diego Rivera pastel, a Peruvian feather textile carpet fragment from around the 17th century, and a 1930 José Clemente Orozco painting (a promised gift).
Many museums have recently made efforts to fill gaps in their collections and curatorial expertise in Latin American art, aided by major patrons. Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, for instance, has made numerous recent donations, including to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where she established a research institute in 2016, and the Reina Sofia in Madrid, which also received works from Jorge M. Perez earlier this year.
The Dallas Museum of Art has had a long commitment to Latin American art. It began exhibiting work by artists from the region in 1933 and made its first acquisition in the field in 1945 with a lithograph by Mexican muralist Roberto Montenegro. In the years since, the museum has mounted 45 exhibitions in the area and acquired over 400 works. As part of an ongoing strategic plan begun in 2017, the museum has aimed to strengthen this work, noting that Dallas’s population is 43 percent Latinx.
“With Latino and Latin American culture embedded in the fabric of Dallas, as well as the United States, the DMA’s strength in Latin American art is core not only to expanding the narrative of art history, but to reflecting the histories of the museum’s audiences, locally and nationally,” the DMA’s director, Agustín Arteaga, said in a statement. “These gifts form the cornerstone of an exciting new chapter in the history of the DMA’s engagement with Latin American art and position the museum to excel in bringing under-recognized narratives of art history to the fore.”