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Arts / Museums

A Shocking Resignation and a Feminist Art Blockbuster

Gavin Delahunty and the Forgotten Impressionist Collide in a Surreal Week at the Dallas Museum of Art

BY // 11.22.17

Two stories breaking from Texas days before Thanksgiving riveted the art world. Both revolved around the same institution.

First came the surprising sudden resignation of a man who wielded one of the most high-profile curatorial positions in the state — the Dallas Museum of Art’s Gavin Delahunty. Delahunty cited “allegations regarding my inappropriate behavior” in his own statement about his resignation. The reasons cited were vague and troubling, especially with everything going on in Hollywood and the media world today.

“Today I am announcing my resignation as the Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the Dallas Museum of Art, effective immediately,” Delahunty’s full statement reads. “I am aware of allegations regarding my inappropriate behavior, and I do not want them to be a distraction to the Museum or to my colleagues. I offer my deepest apologies to those who have been affected by my behavior. I will be taking this time to spend with my family.”

With the museum not saying anything more, the situation fuels speculation. Personal demons are one thing, when they impact others and power is put into play, a public institution has a responsibility to swiftly release facts. If not now, as soon as possible.

If the curator is dealing solely with personal issues, and others are not involved, that should also be stated.

The cloud over the Delahunty’s departure almost completely obscured the big art news released at a Paris press conference earlier this week .

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Four museums are banding together for an art historical collaboration that will put in the deserving spotlight one of the seminal French painters of the second half of the 19th century — Berthe Morisot (1841-1895). The Dallas Museum of Art will step up to co-organize and co-present this rewriting of art history with a significant feminist stance, a la Morisot.

Come 2018, the DMA joins The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, and the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, in presenting an exhibition for a woman known as “the forgotten Impressionist,” despite her role as being one of the original members of the Impressionists salons, as well as a co-founder of the movement.

Morisot Matters

Who was Berthe Morisot, what role did she play in Impressionism, what are the merits of her artwork, and why does she matter today?

The exhibition “Berthe Morisot, Woman Impressionist” promises clues and revelations, as well as 60 some paintings that highlight Morisot’s unique contributions to the movement. It is also the first exhibition devoted to the artist in America in more than 30 years, and follows upon recent reappraisals and new scholarship for many of Morisot’s colleagues, better known cornerstones of the Impressionism movement.

The Morisot exhibition arrives at the Dallas Museum of Art, February 24 through May 26, 2019.

Kudos to the DMA for resurrecting Morisot. Now, please be forthcoming about Delahunty — clarification is important and needed.

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