From the Collection–Chaïm Soutine’s Children and Geece

Many of the artists featured in the special exhibition Van Gogh to Pollock: Modern Rebels, Masterworks from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery are also represented in the collection of the Milwaukee Art Museum. This is the third in a series of blog posts that will highlight Milwaukee’s artworks during the run of the exhibition.

Chaïm Soutine (Russian, 1893–1943, active in France), Children and Geese, 1934. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley M1959.375. Photo credit: Efraim Lev-er. ©2010 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

Chaïm Soutine (Russian, 1893–1943, active in France), Children and Geese, 1934. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley M1959.375. Photo credit: Efraim Lev-er. ©2010 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

Comparing the painting by Chaïm Soutine (Russian, 1893–1943, active in France) in the Modern Rebels show (Carcass of Beef) with the one in the Milwaukee Art Museum’s collection (Children and Geese, seen at left), it is almost difficult to believe that the two works are by the same artist. The former depicts the body of a cow, flayed open from neck to tail, its scarlet inner organs glistening vividly against the shadowed blue background. In contrast, the artwork within Milwaukee’s own collection is a simple rural scene: a young boy and girl walking down a country path, with abstract brushstrokes suggesting a flock of white geese beside them.

A shockingly graphic image of blood and death versus an innocent, bucolic portrayal of childhood. How could these two works have been painted by the same artist?

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From the Collection–Roman Portrait of a Man

Roman, Late Hadrianic (AD 117–138) or Antonine (AD 138–193) Period. Portrait of a Man, 2nd century AD. Marble. height: 16 1/2 in. (41.91 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Suzanne and Richard Pieper M2004.582.

Roman, Late Hadrianic (AD 117–138) or Antonine (AD 138–193) Period. Portrait of a Man, 2nd century AD. Marble. height: 16 1/2 in. (41.91 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Suzanne and Richard Pieper M2004.582.

Walk into any home today and you’re likely to see photographs of people.  Carefully posed family portraits, snapshots from vacation, and, of course, selfies surround us in our homes.  People have an almost innate desire to capture the faces of their friends and family, not to mention themselves.

Two thousand years ago, Ancient Romans didn’t have photography, but they did have the same desire to capture and remember the faces of those they loved.  Wealthy Roman homes were filled with portraits of family members both past and present, most often in the form of busts and full-length statues.  One such portrait, The Milwaukee Art Museum’s Portrait of a Man, was sculpted during the late Hadrianic (117-138 CE) or Antonine Period (138-193 CE).  Based on the size and detail of this marble portrait, it would have likely been placed in a prominent position in a house or garden.  Just like today, all portraits weren’t created equal, and sculptures like this one are akin to an expensive portrait you might commission from a professional photographer, rather than a snapshot developed at a convenience store. Continue reading

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Happy Birthday, Frida Kahlo!

 Frida Kahlo's "Self-Portrait with Monkey" can be seen displayed in "Van Gogh to Pollock: Modern Rebels," at MAM through September 20th

Frida Kahlo’s “Self-Portrait with Monkey” can be seen displayed in “Van Gogh to Pollock: Modern Rebels,” at MAM through September 20th

From June 18 to September 20, the Milwaukee Art Museum is proud to temporarily house works by some of the most famous artists in history in an exhibition titled Van Gogh to Pollock: Modern Rebels. One such rebel artist, whose painting Self-Portrait with Monkey is displayed in this extraordinary exhibition, is Frida Kahlo. In honor of her 108th birthday on July 6, we celebrate the life and mind of this strong woman and creative artist.

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From the Collection–Wassily Kandinsky’s Fragment I for Composition VII

Many of the artists featured in the special exhibition Van Gogh to Pollock: Modern Rebels, Masterworks from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery are also represented in the collection of the Milwaukee Art Museum. This is the second in a series of blog posts that will highlight Milwaukee’s artworks during the run of the exhibition.

Wassily Kandinsky (Russian, 1866–1944), Fragment I for Composition VII (Center), 1913. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley M1958.12. Photo credit: Larry Sanders.

Wassily Kandinsky (Russian, 1866–1944), Fragment I for Composition VII (Center), 1913. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley M1958.12. Photo credit: Larry Sanders.

Only one artwork from the Milwaukee Art Museum’s own collection is displayed as part of the newly-opened Modern Rebels exhibition: Wassily Kandinsky’s Fragment I for Composition VII. When one reads the title of the equally vibrant artwork from the Albright-Knox Gallery hung next to it, the reason for its inclusion becomes instantly clear.

Fragment I for Composition VII, meet Fragment II for Composition VII.

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From the Collection–Theseus by Jacques Lipchitz

Jacques Lipchitz (French, b. Lithuania, 1891–1973, active in the United States), Theseus, 1942. Hollow bronze cast. height: 23 3/4 in. (60.33 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. William D. Vogel M1956.80. Photo credit: Larry Sanders. © Estate of Jacques Lipchitz, all rights reserved.

Jacques Lipchitz (French, b. Lithuania, 1891–1973, active in the United States), Theseus, 1942. Hollow bronze cast. height: 23 3/4 in. (60.33 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. William D. Vogel M1956.80. Photo credit: Larry Sanders. © Estate of Jacques Lipchitz, all rights reserved.

Many of the artists featured in the special exhibition Van Gogh to Pollock: Modern Rebels, Masterworks from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery are also represented in the collection of the Milwaukee Art Museum. This is the first in a series of blog posts that will highlight Milwaukee’s artworks during the run of the exhibition.

Knowledge of classical mythology is one of those subjects that will always help the student of art history, no matter what period you study. Over the last few years, I have explored mythological subjects in the Milwaukee Art Museum’s collection represented in ancient Greek hydriae; Baroque decorative arts and painting; and nineteenth century German ceramics.

Modern art is no exception. We have to look no further than the sculptures of Jacques Lipchitz (1891–1973).

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