From the Collection–Vegetable Market at Pontoise by Camille Pissarro

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 fourth in a series of blog posts that will highlight Milwaukee’s artworks during the run of the exhibition.

Camille Pissarro (French, 1830–1903), Vegetable Market at Pontoise, 1891. Etching, drypoint, and aquatint. Milwaukee Art Museum, Maurice and Esther Leah Ritz Collection M2004.283. Photo credit: Efraim Lev-er.

Camille Pissarro (French, 1830–1903), Vegetable Market at Pontoise, 1891. Etching, drypoint, and aquatint. Milwaukee Art Museum, Maurice and Esther Leah Ritz Collection M2004.283. Photo credit: Efraim Lev-er.

A bustling market welcomes the viewer of Impressionist artist Camille Pissarro’s Vegetable Market at Pontoise. We can almost hear the commotion of the rural village where he lived for some time.

Playing the part of both voyeur and companion, we stand behind a woman selling her vegetables. A young woman stops in front of us, deliberating whether or not she would like to buy what is gently offered to her. We can nearly hear their more quiet conversation in the midst of the lively square where all individuals congregate without segregation of rank. There are men with top hats conversing and women in fine dresses strolling, while others are clearly from a more modest upbringing.

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Matisse versus Picasso

Matisse's colorful "La Musique" is featured in the exhibition Van Gogh to Pollock: Modern Rebels. Come check it out! Photo by the author.

Matisse’s colorful “La Musique” is featured in the exhibition Van Gogh to Pollock: Modern Rebels. Come check it out! Photo by the author.

“If I were not making the paintings I make, I would paint like Matisse,” Pablo Picasso once said of his rival and dear friend, Henri Matisse. Both artists are featured in the Milwaukee Art Museum’s latest exhibition, Van Gogh to Pollock: Modern Rebels.

In the early twentieth century, the relationship between Picasso and Matisse had developed out of a nature of competitiveness and grew to be one of mutual admiration—at times. When Picasso came onto the European modern art scene, Matisse, being eleven years older, had already established himself as a rebel in that world. After meeting in 1906 at the Parisian salon of famous writer Gertrude Stein, the two artists would continuously look to one another’s work to both pose criticism and find inspiration.

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Happy Birthday, Andy Warhol!

Andy Warhol's 100 Cans in the exhibition Van Gogh to Pollock: Modern Rebels, Masterworks from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Photo by the author.

Andy Warhol’s 100 Cans in the exhibition Van Gogh to Pollock: Modern Rebels, Masterworks from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Photo by the author.

Today we celebrate the birthday of famous American pop artist Andy Warhol. The Milwaukee Art Museum’s permanent collection boasts a number of works by Warhol, but one of his most iconic pieces is featured in the Museum’s current temporary exhibition, Van Gogh to Pollock: Modern Rebels. The piece, titled 100 Cans, was completed in 1962.

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From the Collection–Chaïm Soutine’s Children and Geese

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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