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Dallas Center Commissions Guillermo Kuitca To Design Opera Curtain

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May 2009

The Dallas Center for the Performing Arts announced today that it has commissioned a curtain designed by renowned Argentine artist Guillermo Kuitca for the Center’s new Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House.

The Center has also acquired Kuitca’s Dallas Opera House (2008), consisting of 16 mixed media works on paper based on the seating plans of the Winspear Opera House. These works will be permanently installed at box level of the Opera House.

Kuitca is internationally acclaimed for work inspired by cartography, architecture and theatre. He represented Argentina at the Venice Biennale in 2007, and a major retrospective of his work will premiere at the Miami Art Museum in October 2009 before embarking on a national tour.

This commission will be Kuitca’s first design for a stage curtain, but it continues the artist’s longtime exploration of theatre as a space and structure.

Most recently, this theme was addressed in a series of works-on-paper based on seating charts from renowned performance spaces, such as the Metropolitan Opera House, La Scala and Covent Garden.

For this group, Kuitca manipulated printed seating plans, creating surreal and brightly colored abstractions.

These works were shown in an exhibition entitled Stage Fright (2007), the first one-person show in the Metropolitan Opera House’s ground-floor exhibition space.

Kuitca’s design for the Winspear Opera House continues this theme, abstracting the seating plan for the Winspear’s Margaret McDermott Performance Hall and reproducing this image onto the curtain itself.

After being introduced in 1980 to choreographer Pina Bausch's Tanztheater at a performance in Buenos Aires, Kuitca began to develop an interest in theatre.


He went on to write and direct experimental theatre productions in Buenos Aires in the 1980s, and was commissioned to design stage sets for productions of Federico Garcia Lorca‘s La casa de Bernarda Alba (2002) and Richard Wagner‘s Der Fliegende Holländer (2003).

Kuitca‘s ongoing fascination with the stage remains evident in his paintings and drawings today.

In describing the vision for the Winspear Opera House curtain, Kuitca said, "The theatre curtain marks a physical threshold: the limit where the audience abandons the reality of the outside world and lets itself be transported by the machinery of the theatre."

"I am interested in physically echoing the beating, expectant moment before the curtain rises."

"In large part, the genesis of this project was the desire to further complement our effort to build a 21st century opera house, while incorporating appropriate classic, 19th century European opera house detail," said John Dayton, member of the Board of Directors of the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts and chair of the Winspear Opera House Facilities Committee.

"We wanted a grand, decorative curtain—but sought to avoid the traditional 'red velvet curtain with gold brocade.‘ Commissioning a contemporary artist whose work expressed an appreciation for opera house architecture seemed most appropriate."

In celebration of the Center‘s opening, the Dallas Museum of Art will present a special exhibition featuring drawings, paintings and studies by Kuitca for the Winspear Opera House curtain.

The exhibition Performance /Art showcases the work of contemporary artists—including David Altmejd, Guillermo Kuitca, and Yinka Shonibare, among others—who have taken inspiration from the theater and opera in the creation of their painting, sculpture, video, and photography.

Also in October 2009, the Miami Art Museum will open the first Guillermo Kuitca retrospective in the United States in more than 15 years: Guillermo Kuitca: Everything, Paintings and Works on Paper, 1980-2008.

The exhibition will travel to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, D.C.

The Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, designed by Foster + Partners under the direction of Pritzker Prize-winning architect Norman Foster, is one of the four venues that comprise the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts.
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