Raymond D. Nasher was a real estate developer, U.S. delegate to the United Nations, banker and part owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team. Originally from Boston, he moved to Dallas and, with his Texas-born wife Patsy, put together one of the world’s finest collections of modern and contemporary sculpture.
The collection began with the purchases of relatively inexpensive pre-Columbian pieces but gained momentum when Mrs. Nasher, as avid a collector as her husband, surprised him on his birthday in 1967 with Jean Arp’s bronze, “Torso with Buds”. This piece was followed by acquisitions of works by Henry Moore, Joan Miro, Alexander Calder, Barbara Hepworth and David Smith.
Mr. Nasher would also commission sculptors such as Beverly Pepper to create pieces for his real estate developments. One of the first developers to always include art in his buildings, he maintained that his focus on the sculptures of such minimalist and pop artists as Donald Judd, Andy Warhol, Richard Serra, Jasper Johns, Max Ernst, Claes Oldenburg and Roy Lichtenstein, was as rewarding, but much less expensive than their paintings. Older masterpieces by Giacometti, Rodin, Picasso and Matisse also found their way into the collection as did pieces by newcomers Anish Kapoor, Jeff Koons and Richard Deacon.
After the sculptures began to overflow the Nashers’ North Dallas home and filled all the open spaces of his developments, Mr. Nasher commissioned architect Renzo Piano and landscape architect Peter Walker to design the $70 million, 55,000-sq-ft Nasher Sculpture Center in downtown Dallas to house the more than 300 piece collection, indoors and out. Its mandate: to examine “the primary sources shaping the history of sculpture since the late 19th century”.
Opened in 2003, the Center’s building is divided into five equal-sized pavilions; its sidewalls covered in two-inch-wide slabs of Italian travertine. Each end of the structure’s facade is of clear glass to create both a visual and actual link to the garden that unites the Center’s indoor and outdoor spaces. It boasts a unique, barrel-vaulted glass ceiling above the galleries, held in place by narrow steel ribs that are supported by stainless steel rods. A cast aluminum sunscreen above the roof allows the control of natural light into the galleries. A spectacular acre and a half garden surrounds the building and hosts about 25 of the collection’s large-scale pieces at any one time. The Nasher is a treasure trove of magnificent sculpture indoors and out.
Location: 2001 Flora Street, Dallas, Texas 75201 Tel: (214) 242-5100
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Admission: Includes free audio tour and special exhibitions
First Saturday of Month Free: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Adults: $10. Seniors & Military: $7. Students: $5.