Various Venues, Dallas

Biggest news hereabouts, of course, is the acquisition for the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts’ permanent collection of Andrew Wyeth’s $58,000 tempera painting, That Gentleman—first purchase by public contribution in local annals. Big givers and small pitched in big money along with nickels, dimes and quarters to make final payment to New York’s Knoedler Galleries in late September.

Thus ended successfully an acquisition campaign that really began in 1960 when the work was on loan for the DMFA’s State Fair special, “Famous Families in American Art.” First enamored was Mrs. Eugene McDermott, Dallas Art Association president, who set about interesting one and all in keeping the canvas for all Dallas to enjoy permanently. Some $18,000 was raised by last spring’s Beaux Arts Ball and substantial amounts came from Dallas Art Association patrons and other local patrons. But all comers kept filling the soft-sell “deposit box” placed nearby when the work was loaned for just this campaign since last November—and That Gentleman did the rest. Apparently the price is the highest ever paid by an American museum for the work of a living American artist.

The large (24 x 28 inches) painting, in the artist’s favorite medium, is a meticulously representational study of a man seated in what is evidently the kitchen of his simple, sparsely furnished farm home. A typical Wyeth gem of lucidity, it nonetheless gives off that elusive though definitely discernible mystique adding extra dimension to its precision. Already it is committed to Buffalo’s Albright-Knox Museum for a comprehensive one-man show of Wyeth’s work, November 2 through December 9. The DMFA is also lending Buffalo its large and stunningly detailed pencil drawing, Beckie King, a 1949 gift of the late E. DeGolyer.

In the wake of the Wyeth purchase the DMFA and its exuberant partisans are seriously eyeing the El Greco Crucifixion, tagged at more than $150,000, as the next likely target for another public contributions drive.

The DMFA also dominates area affairs with its costliest, most extensive round up yet—“The Arts of Man,” a highlight of the 1962 State Fair and occupying the entire museum display area through December 31. No rattling outburst of gigantism, the magnificently installed and vastly enriching show will nonetheless probably be the last of its type, shipping and insurance cost spirals being what they are, and with museums growing ever more reluctant to part with borrowed treasure for so long a spell.

Be that as it may, “The Arts of Man” is an achievement fascinating tides of visitors daily in a horizontal correlation of five thousand years of man’s art history. Its more than 500 items, valued well in excess of $4,500,000, came from 38 museums, 15 dealers and 29 private collections and without exception bear qualitatively on the vasty theme. The show ranges from ancient Egyptian, classical Greek and Roman through Indian, pre-Columbian, Northwest Coast Indian, and Persian manuscripts, mosaics, sculptures and assorted objects and paintings that terminate with Picasso according to plan.

Almost a waste of time elsewhere was the welter of canvases in all sizes at Harry Z. Lawrence Galleries by Judson Briggs, the quasi-expatriate American painter who has lived and painted for 25 years in and out of Cuernavaca, Mexico. The painter refers to his current mode of expression as “time-space” painting, though its rather empty pretensions were the only difference that could be detected from how most paintings deal with the same basics. These were monotonous in such quantity, and often resembled either overblown marbling and squiggling brushings or magnified details of Oriental scroll-painting gotten out of hand. There were occasional movement designs that were interesting as expressive, depersonalized experiments, and little else.

Poucette, the little Parisienne who has made a certain vogue of herself on the bistro-chi-chi circuit of late, returned her fetching little entertainments to Hayden Calhoun Galleries. She is not a reliably acceptable technician nor even a true primitive, but there is undeniable appeal—keen and fun—in some of her composition and posters whimsey. Her most favored symbols—blue lions, bordellos, street-walkers—are still snugamong her fantasies and a downright intriguing collage, La Place des Vosges, is appliquéd with razor blades (Gillette blue), paper clips and black snaps, save for two steely ones that serve as bosoms. The wit of execution matters here if not content.

Rual Askew