"All the World's a Stage" Celebrates the Vibrant Relationship Between the Performing and Visual Arts Throughout Time and Across Cultures

With Works Ranging from Ancient Greek Sculpture to African Masks and Contemporary Photography, Exhibition Celebrates Fall Opening Dallas’s New AT&T Performing Arts Center

The dynamic and historic connections between the visual and performing arts will be explored in a new exhibition spanning 2,600 years of creativity within multiple world cultures at the Dallas Museum of Art. Drawn from the DMA’s encyclopedic collections, All the World’s a Stage: Celebrating Performance in the Visual Arts showcases approximately 125 objects that reference the performing arts and performance, including musical instruments, religious objects, and masks, as well as paintings, sculptures, and photographs.

On view from August 30, 2009 to February 28, 2010, All the World’s a Stage is presented in conjunction with Performance/Art (opening October 8), an exhibition focused on a select group of six contemporary artists from around the world who include elements of theater, opera, and performance in their work, and A Dream Come True: The Dallas Arts District, opening September 25, an exhibition that opens up the DMA’s archives to celebrate the completion of the Arts District, which began when the Museum moved downtown 25 years ago. All three exhibitions commemorate this fall’s opening of Dallas’s new AT&T Performing Arts Center and the completion of the Dallas Arts District. They demonstrate the dynamic connections between all the arts and tell the remarkable history of the Arts District.

“With All the World’s a Stage, Performance/Art, and A Dream Come True the DMA celebrates its 25th anniversary in the Arts District and extends an exuberant welcome to our newest neighbor, Dallas’s new AT&T Performing Arts Center, the opening of which completes the Dallas Arts District and further defines our city as one of the nation’s top cultural centers,” said Bonnie Pitman, The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art. “These visual arts exhibitions are inspired by theater, music, dance, opera, and performance and reveal creative ties between our institutions and respective disciplines.”

All the World’s a Stage draws upon works from cultures around the world to reveal ways in which performance has been created, transformed, and documented by visual artists working in concert with dancers, musicians, and actors to both shape and record their creations. Works relating to ritual, theater, dance, and music are grouped thematically throughout the exhibition to tell the story of performance throughout time and from a variety of cultures.

The exhibition begins with a group of works focused on the origins of performances, many of which were part of ritual ceremonies. Whether a mosaic of Orpheus, the divine musician of Greek mythology, charming animals with his lyre; an Italian painting of Roman peasants joining Bacchus in a nocturnal concert; or a sculpture of the Hindu goddess Durga caught in a dramatic moment often told through dance of her slaying a Buffalo Demon with her terrifying sword, many of the works depict ritual performance, making myths real, explaining the universe, and allowing us to rise above our human limitations.

The next gallery space shows us the true pleasure of performing introduced by a series of watercolors by Abraham Walkowitz called Isadora Duncan Dancing. Following that, visitors are shown the transformation of performance through costumes, makeup, and masks. On display are a variety of works including a photograph by Cindy Sherman that visualizes the transformation of a person through costume and makeup, a series of Erté watercolors that display ornate costume designs, and a collection of masks and ritual costumes from Italy, India, and Africa. Accompanying some of the works are video presentations that bring the objects to life and reveal the cultural context of their origins.

Music in Western cultures is widely associated with a performance on a stage, but throughout time, music has been used to worship gods, lead men to war, and provide pleasure. A gallery of instruments puts a visual to the sounds we hear that give us great pleasure, including an ancient American trumpet from 300 to 200 B.C. Peru, African drums and harps, and a Tibetan conch shell trumpet.

The final galleries of All the World’s a Stage bring together the parts of performance that visitors usually see—the actual performers, the spaces where they perform, and the completed performances. Works such as Pablo Picasso’s The Guitarist and Guatemalan artist Carlos Mérida’s Dancers of Tlaxcala, show a variety of types of performers. Along with these are works that show the places that have been used as stages throughout history including an 18th-century silver Indian shrine and a group of painted panels from an altar piece from a 15th-century Spanish cathedral. And the final gallery displays a large group of works showing complete performances including Edgar Degas’s series of ballet dancers and Jean-Antoine-Theodore Giroust’s Oedipus at Colonus, an oil painting portraying an ancient Greek performance of Sophocles’ play of the same name.

Within the exhibition are two special additional spaces—The Stage, a space dedicated for weekend performances, films, and videos of great performances, and a Music Bar.

In the Stage space, there will be weekend performances at 2 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. Every weekday at 2 p.m. will be a screening of classic music, drama, and dance performances filmed at the world's great performance spaces, as well as award-winning documentaries investigating connections between the visual and performing arts. A special complement to the exhibition will be the video running in The Stage when performances are not taking place. This video, which will be projected on three walls, will include interviews with Dallas Arts District leaders and local performers, in addition to performances related to works of art in the exhibition.

To truly appreciate the connection music has to performance, the Music Bar invites visitors to use headphones to listen to short pieces of music that relate to works throughout the exhibition. The works are labeled with a special symbol to signify that the Music Bar will have accompanying music. A few works that are accompanied by music include Leadbelly, a sculpture by Michael G. Owen, Jr.; the Chinese Figure of a court lady; and the 10th–12th-century Indian Figure of dancer.

All the World’s a Stage: Celebrating Performance in the Visual was conceived and organized collaboratively by the Dallas Museum of Art’s curatorial staff working with the Museum’s education and exhibitions departments. Exhibition support is provided by American Airlines. Promotional support provided in part by CBS Radio: KVIL-FM, KLUV-FM, and KRLD-AM.

For details on the exhibition and related programs, visit DallasMuseumofArt.org or 214-922-1200.

About the Dallas Museum of Art
Located in the vibrant Arts District of downtown Dallas, Texas, the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) ranks among the leading art institutions in the country and is distinguished by its innovative exhibitions and groundbreaking educational programs. At the heart of the Museum and its programs is its encyclopedic collections, which encompass more than 23,000 works and span 5,000 years of history, representing a full range of world cultures. Established in 1903, the Museum today welcomes more than 700,000 visitors annually and acts as a catalyst for community creativity, engaging people of all ages and backgrounds with a diverse spectrum of programming, from exhibitions and lectures to concerts, literary readings and dramatic and dance presentations. The Dallas Museum of Art is supported in part by the generosity of Museum members and donors and by the citizens of Dallas through the City of Dallas/Office of Cultural Affairs and the Texas Commission on the Arts.