Last summer, the Kimbell’s deputy director, George Shackelford, returned from a trip to Paris dazzled by an exhibition on the Spanish fashion designer Cristóbal Balenciaga. Icould not be more thrilled to report that Balenciaga in Black , the exhibition George had seen in Paris, opens this fall in Fort Worth. It will be the Museum’s first show devoted to fashion in nearly three decades. An artist whose materials were fabric, thread, textures, and color, Balenciaga was one of the most influential of all designers. As Christian Dior said, “Haute couture is like an orchestra whose conductor is Balenciaga. We other couturiers are the musicians, and we follow the direction he gives.” In Coco Chanel’s opinion, only Balenciaga was a true couturier—“all the rest are just designers.”
The Balenciaga exhibition focuses on the designer’s work in black. Complementing this show will be works in black and white by Balenciaga’s fellow countryman, the great Romantic artist Francisco de Goya, who is as renowned for his graphic work as for his paintings. Drawings and selections from his famous series of prints will be on view—all from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston—enabling visitors to explore the mind of this genius, who was a keen observer of humanity at the turbulent dawn of the modern world.
In 1993, the Kimbell acquired a portrait, dated 1496, of the composer Jacob Obrecht. The acquisition was atypical for the Kimbell, for although the portrait was undeniably a masterpiece, of an important subject, and in extraordinarily good condition, its painter was unknown. After nearly a quarter of a century and many attempts to determine the painting’s author, I am pleased to announce that the art historical detective work of Rafael Barrientos Martinez, a former Kimbell conservation assistant now in the doctoral program in art history at UCLA, working in conjunction with early Netherlandish painting expert Larry Silver of the University of Pennsylvania, has finally solved the mystery. We can now state with confidence that the Portrait of Jacob Obrecht is by the important Netherlandish artist Quinten Metsys (1465/66–1530). With the new attribution, the painting seems like a new acquisition! Read more about the attribution on pages 18–19, and hear Rafael discuss the painting in a lecture at the Kimbell on January 16.
This fall, we have exciting member events coming up, including Member Previews held jointly for the Balenciaga and Goya exhibitions on October 5 and 6. And families should not miss our Family Festival on November 4, which will feature entertaining educational programs for children of all ages.
Thank you, as always, for your support of the Kimbell. I hope to see you often at the Museum in the coming months
Eric M. Lee