The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

My quest to learn the musical instrument struck a chord much greater than the beautiful sound of a perfect stroke.
I decided to learn the guitar, but I walked away learning more about life
Bella Edmondson, Staff Editor • June 19, 2024
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Tiffany exhibit shines at DMA

For many people the name Tiffany conjures two things: beautifully wrapped turquoise boxes containing fine jewelry and colorful lamps replicated so often and with such lessening degrees of quality that knock-offs can now be found in the home furnishing section of your local Wal-Mart. However, Louis Comfort Tiffany, one of the namesake’s most famous sons, presided over an active and varied artistic workshop, producing everything from stained glass to funerary monuments. This wide selection of artistic production is currently on view at the Dallas Museum of Art as part of its exhibition, “Louis Comfort Tiffany: Artist for the Ages.”

What is remarkable about the show, which displays many objects never before seen in public, is the extent of Tiffany’s vision. While the son of Charles Tiffany, the founder of the luxury goods company, Tiffany & Co., Louis Comfort Tiffany separated himself from the family business to pursue a career first as a painter and then as a designer. Tiffany was one of the first designers in America to push the idea of a total aesthetic expression.

Tiffany became an artist very much engaged in the artistic and cultural trends popular at the turn of the twentieth century. Many of these trends, sparked by the numerous World’s Fairs occurring around the United States at this time, were from exotic and far-away locales. Tiffany traveled extensively in Europe and even visited North Africa and Egypt. The numerous works on view in the exhibition galleries speak to the cultures encountered in these journeys, as well as influences from sources as far ranging as Japanese, Near Eastern and Classical art.

The myriad of influences run wild in galleries where too many types, and just plain too many objects, are crammed together. This eclecticism is mesmerizing though, and functions as a successful foil to the one unifying motif running throughout all of Tiffany’s work: nature. Tiffany once stated that “Everything in nature is beautiful,” and as one navigates through vases resembling freshly budded flowers and pearl brooches smothered in a web of bronze and gold seaweed, the natural and organic is everywhere.

Some of the most organic looking pieces are Tiffany’s so-called Favrile vases, which combined numerous colors of glass while still in the molten state. The results are pieces that sparkle with an almost metallic luminosity. A vase from 1900, with its multiplicity of blue hues and delicate peacock feathers enveloping the surface, exemplifies both this technique and Tiffany’s interest in natural motifs.

The exhibition may not appeal to everyone’s taste, but anyone entering the lavishly jewel-toned painted galleries will be hard-pressed to deny the sheer beauty of the objects within them. Yes, this is an exhibition devoted to the decorative arts, but the objects on view — vases, lamps, jewelry — are everyday items we often take for granted. “Louis Comfort Tiffany: Artist for the Ages” reminds us of the power of art to transform the mundane into the extraordinary.

For those interested in learning more about Tiffany, the DMA is hosting “Icons of the Collection: Louis Comfort Tiffany,” a panel discussion of leading Tiffany scholars and Michael J. Burlingham, great-grandson of the artist, this evening. The event will be moderated by Kevin W. Tucker, the DMA’s Margot B. Perot, curator of decorative arts and design, and begins at 7 p.m. in the Horchow Auditorium.

Ticket prices are $15 for the public, $10 for members and seniors, and free for students. “Louis Comfort Tiffany: Artist for the Ages” runs through Sept. 3.

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