There's no reason for the Dallas Museum of Art to be in mourning today, not when it's the proud recipient of the Outstanding Small Exhibition award from the Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC). DMA announced today that it received the honor for The Mourners: Medieval Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy, an exhibition the museum organized with the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Dijon, France.
Heather MacDonald, the DMA's Lillian and James H. Clark Associate Curator of European Art, co-curated the collection, which appeared at the DMA from October 2010 through January this year. MacDonald had previously curated the DMA's The Lens of Impressionism: Photography and Painting Along the Normandy Coast, 1850-1874 and Coastlines: Images of Land and Sea. She also worked on the J.M.W. Turner and Matisse: Painter as Sculptor exhibitions.
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The Mourners is a collection of 40 alabaster sculptures created by Jean de la Huerta and Antoine le Moiturier during the 1400s to adorn the tomb of John the Fearless, the second duke of Burgundy. Among the procession of 16-inch-tall mourners are deacons, monks and choir boys, all in various states of grief.
This exhibition marks the first time these sculptures have left France, and it might have not happened if the Musée des Beaux-Arts hadn't decided to undergo a facelift and free the figures for a one-time tour in North America. Good thing, too, because the collection has received plenty of buzz on Twitter and from critics when it arrived at the Metropolitan Museum in New York for the first leg of a 7-city tour.
"Each [sculpture] is a small masterpiece of stone carving and human realism," wrote New York Times critic Ken Johnson. MacDonald agrees, adding the sculptures are "incredibly beautiful works that are as powerful and meaningful today as they were the day they were created."
The Mourners is currently on exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. If you didn't get a chance to view the collection at the DMA, you can view a 2D and 3D gallery of all the sculptures at themourners.org.