Questions of Provenance—Nazi-era Germany

This post is the second to introduce a series that that will highlight some of the interesting provenance cases in the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Collection. 

Adolf HItler presents Hermann Goering with The Falconer, 1880, by 19th century Austrian painter Hans Makart. Library of Congress.

Adolf HItler presents Hermann Goering with The Falconer, 1880, by 19th century Austrian painter Hans Makart. Library of Congress.

To fully understand how important provenance research is for museums, we will need to look more at the period of art looting that is most familiar to many: the Nazi period in Germany. Continue reading

Posted in Art, Curatorial | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Reflections of an Intern: On Teaching and Mission Statements

The 2015 Spring Satellite Interns. Photo by Front Room Photography

The 2015 Spring Satellite Interns. Photo by Front Room Photography

Reflecting back on my time at the Milwaukee Art Museum interning with the Satellite High School Program brings many valuable memories and thoughts to the surface. I’ve been privileged to have had the opportunity to work with dozens of bright, creative, and enthusiastic students from high schools around Milwaukee. Looking back on those weekly Thursday meetings, there are too many good times to mention. There were not so good times too–students having difficulty with final projects, frustrations with resume editing, and challenges giving tours to younger kids. These are the situations that make a pre-service teacher like me stronger; I was forced to come up with strategies for helping to work through student’s problems along with them in a way that was conducive to their unique learning styles. Continue reading

Posted in Behind the Scenes, Education | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Community Collaborations: Art and Music with H2O Milwaukee Music

H2O Milwaukee Music visits the Spring 2015 Satellite interns. Photo by Satellite teens

H2O Milwaukee Music visits the Spring 2015 Satellite interns. Photo by Satellite teens

Four years ago, in 2011, I was introduced to Dwight and Marquis Gilbert — otherwise known as H2O Milwaukee Music — and the teen programs at the Milwaukee Art Museum were forever changed.

Okay, that might be a little dramatic, but collaborating with Dwight and Marquis has without a doubt been one of the highlights of my teaching work here at the Museum. Dwight and Marquis are cousins and Milwaukee natives with a deep passion for music. Their organization, H2O Milwaukee Music, creates after-school programs that teach youth music theory, technology, and life skills in a super engaging way: by empowering them to create their own tracks (and even music videos). Back in 2011, I was experimenting with mashing up other disciplines with art, and when I heard about what Dwight and Marquis do, I was so excited to bring them in to experiment with our teen programs. Continue reading

Posted in Behind the Scenes, Education | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Questions of Provenance–An Introduction

Claude Monet (French, 1840–1926). Waterloo Bridge, Sunlight Effect, ca. 1900 (dated 1903). Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Bequest of Mrs. Albert T. Friedmann M1950.3. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.

Claude Monet (French, 1840–1926). Waterloo Bridge, Sunlight Effect, ca. 1900 (dated 1903). Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Bequest of Mrs. Albert T. Friedmann M1950.3. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.

One of the important areas of museum research is that of provenance, or the history of ownership.

Why is it important to know who owned an artwork? Well, for a number of reasons. Continue reading

Posted in Art, Curatorial | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

From the Collection–Christopher Dresser, Pitcher and Claret Jug

Christopher Dresser (English, 1834-1904) Manufactured by Watcombe Terracotta Clay Company (Torquay, Devon, England, established 1867) Pitcher, designed 1870-75; produced by Watcombe of Torquay. Terracotta or red stoneware, gilding 7 1/8 × 5 1/2 × 5 1/4 in. (18.1 × 13.97 × 13.34 cm) . Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Daniel Morris and Denis Gallion M1991.323

Christopher Dresser (English, 1834-1904) Manufactured by Watcombe Terracotta Clay Company (Torquay, Devon, England, established 1867) Pitcher, designed 1870-75; produced by Watcombe of Torquay. Terracotta or red stoneware, gilding 7 1/8 × 5 1/2 × 5 1/4 in. (18.1 × 13.97 × 13.34 cm) . Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Daniel Morris and Denis Gallion M1991.323

In 1898, the artists periodical The Studio called Christopher Dresser “perhaps the greatest of commercial designers imposing his fantasy and invention upon the ordinary output of British industry.” This seems an appropriate description for an Englishman who was interested in art but first trained in botany, and then found inspiration for his designs both in the ancient past and traditions of Japan.

Looking at two of Dresser’s designs in the collection of the Milwaukee Art Museum–a pitcher produced by the Watcombe Terracotta Clay Company and a claret jug produced by Hulkin & Heath–you can see how he applied his own personal motto to his work: truth, beauty, power. The sleek and angular vessels lack the decoration that most people associate with the Victorian period, which would have been at its height in the 1870’s.  They look like something from the 20th century!

It may surprise you then, that Dresser was also known for his interests in flat patterning.

Continue reading

Posted in Art, Curatorial | Tagged , , | Leave a comment