Notes from Underground

Pirkle Jones (1914-2009)

We heard earlier this week that California photographer Pirkle Jones had died at age 95 (obits here and here). Jones is probably best known for being Ansel Adams's assistant and photographing the Black Panthers in the 1960s.

The Carter has 14 photographs by Pirkle Jones in the photography collection, and one of them - Sunset District and Pacific Ocean, San Francisco - is on view now in the exhibition High Modernism: Alfred Stieglitz and His Legacy through July 19.

Podcast: Charles Russell's Illustrated Letters

This Week in the Arts has posted a new podcast - an interview with Brian Dippie, the author of the Carter's newest publication, The 100 Best Illustrated Letters of Charles M. Russell (among many, many others). Check it out.

We've Been Tagged! 25 Random Things About the Carter

Assistant Registrar Lacey alerted me this afternoon that we'd been TAGGED! Not in the traditional spray-paint sense, but in the Facebook sense. The IMA blog challenged us - and 24 others - to post 25 random things about their institution.



  • 1. The Carter opened January 24, 1961 and will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2011.
  • 2. Amon G. Carter’s ~ 400 works by Frederic Remington and Charles Russell form the core of our collection, which has expanded to around 300,000 objects.
  • 3. We display on average 500-600 works from the permanent collection at any one time – less than 1%.
  • 4. 162,460 objects in our permanent collection have been cataloged and entered in our collection information system. Over 18,000 objects have been digitized.
  • 5. The first artwork accessioned into the collection was Frederic Remington’s sculpture, The Rattlesnake. The first photograph entered the collection later in 1961 - an image of Charles M. Russell’s hand (holding a cigarette) by Dorothea Lange.
  • 6. Our most recent accession was a pair of prints by Jacob Lawrence.
  • 7. The ghost of the museum’s first director, Mitch Wilder, is rumored to haunt the museum basement.
  • 8. Our Philip Johnson building was completed in 1960 and underwent expansions in 1964, 1977, and 2001. The 2001 expansion increased the museum’s size by nearly 50,000 square feet.
  • 9. The exterior of our original building is Texas shellstone, and the first level of the interior is Texas granite. The teak walls you see in the members lounge were repurposed from the former library walls in the 2001 building expansion.
  • 10. We currently have over 50 artworks out on loan to other museums, including the Charles M. Russell Museum, National Cowgirl Museum, Stark Museum of Art, Eiteljorg Museum, Des Moines Art Center, Joslyn Museum, and MOMA.
  • 11. Our first photography exhibition was Adam Clark Vroman: Photographer of the Southwest in 1962.
  • 12. Our first video installation was Mary Lucier: The Plains of Sweet Regret in 2008.
  • 13. We have 75 full-time staff.
  • 14. Our smallest work is a daguerreotype portrait cased in a pocket watch – it’s a whopping 1 ¼ inches tall.
  • 15. Our largest work is a dye coupler print by Laura McPhee, Understory Flareups, Fourth of July Creek, Valley Road Wild Fire, Custer County, Idaho, 2005, which measures 72 x 96 inches. That’s over 1400 times bigger than the daguerreotype portrait!
  • 16. The oldest work in our collection is a woodcut of a beaver from 1487. The newest works in our collection are from 2008.
  • 17. We store certain photographs and negatives at subfreezing temperatures, so we wear giant, hooded, safety-orange parkas just to move them around (which we try to do as little as possible).
  • 18. Photographer Rynda Lemke is the longest-serving Carter employee – she just celebrated her 30th anniversary at the museum. The father of the Carter’s facilities manager, Alfred Walker, was on the original 1961 building crew.
  • 19. A lithograph by my great-great-uncle, Merritt Mauzey, is currently installed in our works on paper galleries.
  • 20. Two works in the Carter’s collection were installed in President Kennedy’s hotel room during his fateful 1963 trip to Dallas: Charles Russell’s Lost in a Snowstorm and Thomas Eakins’s Swimming. Russell’s Smoke of a .45 was installed in LBJ’s suite. Several paintings from the collection were loaned to decorate the White House in the 1960s and 1970s: The Silk Robe, Colter’s Race for Life, La Vérendryes Discovers the Rocky Mountains, A Mandan Village, and Radisson on the Lakes by Charles Russell, and The Cowboy by Frederic Remington.
  • 21. There are five other museums within a two-block radius of our building: the Kimbell, the Modern, the Cowgirl, the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, and the Fort Worth Community Arts Center.
  • 22. The Carter is a museum of American art, but we have three large Henry Moore sculptures on our plaza. Henry Moore was English.
  • 23. Works from the Carter have collectively been reproduced in over 3300 books & articles and have been included in 1350 exhibitions. Over 300 of those exhibitions have been at the Carter itself.
  • 24. Our website gets about 20,000 visits per month and 100,000 page views.
  • 25. Admission to the Carter is totally free.
  • In the Loupe

    A new photograph of Abraham Lincoln may have been discovered in the collection of Ulysses S. Grant's great-great-grandson and you can see it on NPR's website. But get out your magnifying glasses or put on your specs, because you'll definitely need them. Not only is the possible image of Lincoln grainy, the shot was taken from all the way across the White House lawn. It could be any tall guy in a coat, or a large shrub for that matter.

    It's shocking to learn, compared to the modern leaders, how few photographs of the man that is arguably our most famous president were ever taken in the first place: less than 100. In fact, of the several Lincoln-related works in the Carter's enormous photography collection, only 2 show the man himself!

    Alexander Gardner (1821-1882), President Lincoln on Battle-Field of Antietam, 1862, Albumen silver print, P1983.30.23

    Alexander Gardner (1821-1882), Abraham Lincoln, 1861, Albumen silver print, P1992.1

    Carter Painting on SNL!

    An eagle-eyed curator just alerted me that a reproduction of the Carter's painting Thunder Storm on Narragansett Bay guest starred in last weekend's episode of Saturday Night Live! See for yourself - the picture shows up around the 31-second mark and makes several more appearances throughout the sketch.

    For reference, here is the image in its entirety:

    Thanks to Jane for the tip!

    More Crane @ Art&Seek

    "Washed out faces, disembodied hands, headless bodies and random odds and ends"...more commentary on Barbara Crane: Challenging Vision over at the KERA Art&Seek blog.

    Frank Gohlke at Eye Level

    Smithsonian American Art Museum's Eye Level blog has a substantial post covering a recent talk by photographer Frank Gohlke. The Carter organized Gohlke's exhibition Accommodating Nature, which is on view at the Smithsonian (its fourth and final venue) until March 3.

    Onderdonk at the Stark

    The Carter's painting, A Cloudy Day, Bluebonnets near San Antonio, Texas, by Texan impressionist Julian Onderdonk is now at the Stark Museum of Art as part of the exhibition Bluebonnets and Beyond: Julian Onderdonk, American Impressionist (previously).

    Organized by the Dallas Museum of Art, the show is at its third and final venue in Orange, Texas through May 24.

    Crane Is All Over the Place

    Podcasts, interviews, and reviews for Barbara Crane: Challenging Vision have been popping up all weekend:

    Crane In, Lucier Out

    Be sure to check out This Week in the Arts blog's new podcast, an interview with photographer Barbara Crane. Crane's first major retrospective, Barbara Crane: Challenging Vision, opens at the Carter this Saturday.

    Don’t forget! The Carter's first video installation ever, Mary Lucier: The Plains of Sweet Regret closes this Sunday. Stop by this weekend and you can see the two exhibitions -- both by women photographers -- before Lucier installation is shipped back home.

    Barbara Crane, Beaches and Parks, 1972–78, Courtesy of the Chicago Cultural Center, © Barbara Crane, 1972–78