Ellsworth Kelly in Dallas This show should be called "Dallas Collects Ellsworth Kelly." It would be more honest, not to mention more intriguing. This dainty collection of top-quality painting and sculpture by the mid-20th-century artist does little service to the importance of Kelly. Kelly's brightly colored and experimentally shaped opaque canvases are the bridge between the postwar angst of Abstract Expressionism and the in-the-world politics of the everyday in Pop art and Minimalism. The neon colors of "Green Blue Red" hail signage, advertising and popular culture while not relinquishing any of the attributes of high-art painting. Unfortunately, this intellectual nugget goes largely lost on the Dallas Museum of Art. Thankfully, the peculiar intellectual anemia of this show doesn't entirely detract from the work on display. Through August 22 at the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood St., 214-922-1200. Reviewed June 17. (Charissa N.Terranova)
Pierre Huyghe: One Million + Kingdoms Pierre Huyghe (pronounced "Weeg") is an artist who's in touch with the power of mass media--both as it molds our collective identity and as fodder for making good art. The three videos now showing at the Fort Worth Modern confront the manner in which the forces of news and entertainment fabricate truth from an alchemy of fact and fiction. "Les Grands Ensembles" shows two blinking towers standing alone in a rather vacant landscape. Upon closer look, their emptiness reveals a counterfeit. Seemingly the carcasses of failed utopian dreams of mass housing, the two high-rises are really architectural models rather than real buildings. "One Million Kingdoms" offers a short, offbeat narrative in which the main character is "Annlee"--a doe-eyed and lanky adolescent girl. Huyghe and a colleague purchased the copyright for her from Japanese comic book designers. Annlee solemnly roams a lunar digital landscape, with each footstep creating the ground on which she walks. Her voice is that of Neil Armstrong, and her words are those of Jules Verne. Reciting passages from Journey to the Center of the Earth, Annlee's pointless escapade casts ironic doubt on the famous American moon landing of 1969. "The Third Memory" is based on the 1972 bank robbery committed by John Wojtowicz that became the subject of the movie Dog Day Afternoon (1975). Mixing fact, fiction and the willfully manufactured memories of Wojtowicz some 25 years after the crime, the video comments on the ever-evolving nature of "truth" based on historical events. Huyghe is a Michelangelo of truth as media contrivance. Through August 29 at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 3200 Darnell St., Fort Worth, 817-738-9215. Reviewed July 15. (C.T.)
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20th Century Texas and Spanish Prints For, oh, the last year, the Meadows at SMU has been acting like an honest-to-God museum, putting on legit shows that are more about scholarship and education than about creating a PR event. Witness 20th Century Texas and Spanish Prints, which indicates that the Meadows might want to check its storeroom a little closer. The highlight is a complete set of 52 prints by the "Dallas Nine." Published in limited edition in 1952, these Texas-themed works contain some powerful images of rural Texas recognizable to this day to anyone who ventures away from Texas' major population centers. The style perfected by these artists--part WPA and part folk art, with a dash of Mexican muralists and a pinch of Edward Hopper--is echoed today in the work of Texas artists like David Bates. This suite still looks amazingly fresh and contemporary 50 years later and is one of the best arguments for the merits of mid-20th-century Texas art. Through August 8 at the Meadows Museum, Southern Methodist University, 5900 Bishop Blvd., 214-768-2516. Reviewed July 22. (Christine Biederman)