2014 Archives

Spanish Meadows


The following story appeared on the Jan. 6, 2014, edition of the Wall Street Journal's Cultural Conversation blog. Mark Roglan is the director of the Meadows Museum at SMU.

From 'Real Clear Arts'

The following is from Judith H. Dobrzynski's 
Real Clear Arts blog for Jan. 6, 2013.

In Age Of University Museums, A Thriver

This is becoming an age of university museums: we’ve seen new buildings, renovated buildings, new programs tied closer to non-art courses, energetic directors with larger visions — I’m thinking of places like Michigan State, Yale, UCLA, Princeton, Harvard…  We’ve also seen controversy, of course: the Rose at Brandeis, for example. Yet some might argue that the Rose is stronger now for it; certainly more people value it; more people know of the Rose.

So when The Wall Street Journal asked me to go visit the Meadows Museum at Southern Methodist University in Dallas late last year, I was interested for that reason alone. I’d never been to the Meadows — aka “The Prado on the Prairie” — although it will celebrate its 50th year in 2015. I knew the Meadows’ big ambitions — I’d already mentioned here, in 2010, that the Prado had forged a partnership with the Meadows, and I was curious to see how it had so far turned out. I also knew that it had just purchased a Goya, a portrait of his grandson that, though once owned by the legendary collector George Embiricos, and not seen publicly in more than 40 years, had failed to sell at Sotheby’s a year ago.

The result of my trip in is in tomorrow’s WSJSpanish Meadows: A Cultural Conversation with Mark Roglan.

The short answers are the Meadows seems to be thriving, though attendance is just 50,000 a year — that’s not bad for Dallas but I think it could do better. . .

January 7, 2014

By Judith H. Dobrzynski

"See that green on his face? See how he uses his finger there?" Mark A. Roglán, the director of the Meadows Museum at Southern Methodist University here, is bubbling with enthusiasm for his latest acquisition. It's a tender portrait of a youth painted by Francisco Goya just months before the artist died. Mr. Roglán is so overjoyed that he has placed the work in the middle of the museum's central gallery, rather than against a wall, so viewers can read the affectionate dedication scrawled across the back: "Goya to his grandson in 1827 in his 81st year."

Oddly, "Portrait of Mariano Goya, the Artist's Grandson" failed to sell at Sotheby's in January 2013. Expected to fetch $6 million to $8 million, it had come from the estate of the renowned collector George Embiricos, a Greek shipping magnate who also owned the Cézanne "Card Players" that was reportedly sold privately in 2012 to the Qatari royal family for $250 million. The Goya was fresh to the market, not exhibited publicly since 1970, which should have enhanced desirability.

But Mr. Roglán, 42, a bear of a man who bought the picture this fall for a price near the low end of the estimate, has a ready explanation: The informal portrait, painted quickly and in a limited palette, is too modern for Old Master collectors and too old-fashioned for collectors of mid-19th-century art—but perfect for the Meadows, which aims to be the center for Spanish art in the U.S. As the sixth Goya in the collection, this "bridge between tradition and modernity" takes the Meadows a step further toward the aspiration of its founder, Dallas oilman Algur H. Meadows (1899-1978), to create "a Prado on the prairie," that is, a smaller version of Spain's comprehensive national museum...

Strategically, Mr. Roglán scored a bigger hit in 2010, when he forged a three-year pact with the Prado, which promised to lend a major painting to the Meadows annually, among other things. So far, the Prado has sent El Greco's "Pentecost" (c.1600), Ribera's "Mary Magdalene" (c. 1637) and Velázquez's "Philip IV" (1623-27) for focused exhibitions. The Prado could easily have partnered with more prestigious museums, but Mr. Roglan says it was attracted by their shared mission of promoting Spanish art and the Meadows's setting at a university, which can provide access to scholars in many fields.

The partnership has since been extended and expanded; the two museums are now organizing exhibitions that they both show.

Read the full story.