Dallas Museum of Art

Over the 4th of July long weekend Linda and I went to visit our daughter, Caitlin, in Dallas, Texas.  We had a lot of things planned for the week, including some time I reserved for myself to go museum hopping. I was planning to drive over to Fort Worth and see the Amon Carter Museum of American Art which I had never seen before, but time constraints directed my choice to the Dallas Museum of Art which I also had never seen before and was much closer to Caitlin’s apartment.

The fact that the museum was free all summer helped in that decision, as did the special exhibition, ‘The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece’.  There had recently been an exhibition at my hometown Tulsa’s Philbrook Museum of Art on the same general topic which I loved, so I thought I would continue my education in that area by taking in this exhibition as well.


two structures

Two Structures – Museum Muse #1


The Museum as Muse

I have been doing a series for many years now called Museum Compositions.  I also photograph people quite often and frequently refer to the person I am photographing as my muse.  I realized while putting together the images this morning for this post that one of my most compelling muses of all is the museum.  Not a specific museum, but all museums. No wonder of course since they aren’t called museums by accident. They house the muses.  And to me the house it self is a muse. I am compelled to explore, discover, reach for, secretly find, the perfect composition within the walls of the museum.



'Two Figures' - Museum Muses #2

‘Two Dark Muses’ – Museum Muses #2

Finding the formal and the casual creates a perfect moment for me. 



'Muse and Design' - Museum Muses #3

‘Muse and Design’ – Museum Muses #3

The people within the museum are also my muse. It is the relationship of the living to the historic, the flesh to the stone, the real to the ideal, the moving to the static, that excites me.



'Phallus and Look' - Museum Muses #4

‘Phallus and Look’ – Museum Muses #4

And sometimes the relationship between human and object is found within the art itself.



'Figure and Vortex' - Museum Muses #5

‘Muse and Vortex’ – Museum Muses #5

You know how a wildlife photographer will tell you he or she has to wait for a long time to get the perfect shot of that animal looking just the right way? It’s the same for me in a museum. I am looking for the location, the juxtaposition of elements in space, of content in relationship to each other. But I am also waiting for the moment the living muse passes by.  The moment when they are in perfect relationship to the space and art.  I love that moment.  I am a hunter of that.



'Dream, Image and Deed' - Museum Muses #6

‘Muse, Man and Boy’ – Museum Muses #6

Compositionally I look for the highest level of formality. I am driven to find the perfect division. In half often, sometimes in thirds. I am looking for a rigorous balance of visual weight.



'Muse in Red and Green' - Museum Muses #7

‘Muses in Red and Green’ – Museum Muses #7

The mystery of the Museum Muse is that they inspire but they are not known.



'Muse at Work' - Museum Muses #8

‘Muse at Work’ – Museum Muses #8

Splitting images exactly in half, either vertically, horizontally or both, allows me to fragment and unify the image at the same time.  I love the simplicity of the compositional device, and the discipline it takes to find the the composition keeps me pure in focus.



'Beautifully Filled Space' - Museum Muses #9

‘Beautifully Filled Space’ – Museum Muses #9

 This quote embodies the root idea behind my compositional efforts.



Dream and Image - Museum Muses #10

‘Dream and Image’ – Museum Muses #10

Contemplation that is embodied in the composition of the image and in the people in the images attracts me.


'Woman and Waterfall' - Museum Muses #11

‘Muse and Waterfall’ – Museum Muses #11

The adrenaline of having to explain myself pumps at moments like these.



'Blonde on Blonde' - Museum Muses #12

‘Muse on Muse’ – Museum Muses #12

This moment of seeing the living and created muse so blended was sublime.  I felt she was taking a photo of herself.



'Yellow Shirt' - Museum Muses #13

‘Yellow Muse’ – Museum Muses #13

He split the scene in two and at the same time brought the two sides together.  I love when that visual moment occurs.



Ancient Greek And - Museum Muse #14

‘Ancient Greek And Muses’ – Museum Muse #14

One of my favorite things about museums is how you can see through from one space to another.  I like finding the formal composition while seeing through to new spaces.



'Formal' - Museum Muses #15

‘Formal Muse’ – Museum Muses #15

Sometimes for me the image can be devoid of a human and still be filled with humanity. I found the formality of this visual composition so strong I didn’t think any living thing would enhance it.



Wall Piece - Museum Muses #16

‘Wall Piece and Muse’ – Museum Muses #16

I like when images defy gravity and sense, much like life.



Museum Muse Sleeping

‘Sleeping Muse’ – Museum Muses #17

Storytelling with art, people and no words is a recurring phenomenon in a Museum.



'Male and Female' - Museum Muses #18

‘Male and Female Muses’ – Museum Muses #18

I loved finding the refined and the rough together. As well as the real life muses partially seen, as if in a De Chirico painting. 



Museum Composition with Red Purse and Green Wall

Muse with Red Purse – Museum Muses #19

The anonymous woman, reserved but stylish, silhouetted against the grey, was as beautiful as the artwork. Finding them together made both more beautiful to me.



Stairs and Stares

Muses Coming and Going – Museum Muses #20

Everyone in a museum is a Muse. Everyone and everything is art.


Here are more ‘Museum Compositions’ posts

Museum Compositions – June 2013

Museum as Muse – Dallas Museum of Art – July 2013

Bouquets in Dallas – Dallas Museum of Art – November 2014

Anonymous Eyes – Dallas Museum of Art – November 2014



All photos by Marty Coleman – All Rights Reserved © 2015

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