20th-Century Tools for Measuring Time and Bodies

Isamu Noguchi for Measured Time, Inc., Clock and Kitchen Timer, ca. 1932. Bakelite, metal, glass, and painted metal. Gift from the George R. Kravis II Collection M2018.246. Photo: Sotheby’s, © Sotheby’s, Inc. 2016, © 2017 The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Isamu Noguchi for Measured Time, Inc., Clock and Kitchen Timer, ca. 1932. Bakelite, metal, glass, and painted metal. Gift from the George R. Kravis II Collection M2018.246. Photo: Sotheby’s, © Sotheby’s, Inc. 2016, © 2017 The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Clocks, calculators, measuring tapes, and scales—tools for measurement and calculation have long been important for people to accomplish tasks at work, school, and home. A new display in the 20th- and 21st-Century Design Galleries considers the role designers played in shaping such devices in the twentieth century, with examples from the 1920s-1980s. On one hand, these objects demonstrate how many designers aimed to make tools that are simple to use and easy to read, such as the streamlined kitchen clock and timer that Isamu Noguchi designed for Measured Time, Inc. in the early 1930s. At the same time, these designs bring to light how measurement and calculation have been closely linked to the human body in the twentieth century, as this post explores.

Continue reading

Posted in Art, Curatorial | Leave a comment

The Herzfeld Center: Championing Women Artists

Since its opening in 2015, the Herzfeld Center for Photography and Media Arts has proudly featured many world-renowned female artists working in photography, film, video, and digital media, specifically through solo exhibitions and special programming. These initiatives contribute to an institution-wide effort to highlight more women artists, challenging the art world’s male-dominated past.

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, we are looking back at some of the most recent Herzfeld Center exhibitions that have focused on women artists. Read below to learn more.

Sara Cwynar: Image Model Muse
March 8–July 21, 2019

Sara Cwynar, Tracy (Cezanne), 2017. Dye sublimation print on aluminum mounted on Dibond, 43 x 54 in. Courtesy of the artist, Cooper Cole, Toronto, Foxy Production, New York. © Sara Cwynar

Canadian-born, Brooklyn-based artist Sara Cwynar (b. 1985) explores through film and photography the subjects of color and design, the ways that they operate politically, socially, and historically, particularly in the context of how we conceptualize beauty. This first U.S. solo museum exhibition for the artist presents three of her latest films—Soft Film (2016), Rose Gold (2017), and Cover Girl (2018)—together with photographs from her ongoing Tracy series.

Co-organized with the Minneapolis Institute of Art


Supporting Sponsor:
Live Wire Productions

Exhibitions in the Herzfeld Center for Photography and Media Arts sponsored by:
Herzfeld Foundation
Madeleine and David Lubar

John and Murph Burke
Sheldon and Marianne Lubar Charitable Fund
Mr. and Mrs. Joel Quadracci
Sue and Bud Selig
Mr. Jeffrey Yabuki

Helen Levitt: In the Street
January 27–April 16, 2017

Helen Levitt (American, 1913–2009), New York, ca. 1939. Gelatin silver print. Gift of Marvin Hoshino M2016.157. Photo by: John R. Glembin

American photographer Helen Levitt (1913–2009) captured the life of New York City’s sidewalks for over five decades, revealing through her work a unique “way of seeing” (the title of her 1965 book) rather than an overt message. This exhibition presented early black-and-white photographs, later color work, and Levitt’s film In the Street (1952).

Rineke Dijkstra: Rehearsals
September 9, 2016–January 1, 2017

Leading contemporary artist Rineke Dijkstra is internationally praised for her elegant and sensitive photographic and video work. This exhibition featured two of the Dutch artist’s large-scale video installations—portraits of young dancers during the precious years of early adolescence.

Penelope Umbrico: Future Perfect
May 5–August 7, 2016

Penelope Umbrico (American, b. 1957) 30,240,577 Suns from Sunsets from Flickr (Partial) 03/04/16, 2016. 1,512 chromogenic prints, dimensions variable. Purchase, with funds from The Moore Family Trust M2015.78 © Penelope Umbrico

Embracing the flood of images available in the Internet age, contemporary artist Penelope Umbrico sifts through millions of images shared on Craigslist, Flickr, and other social media sites and appropriates them as source material for her work. This exhibition featured over 30 photo-based installations—comprising nearly 5,000 individual images—along with photographs, videos, and books that trace Umbrico’s obsessive systems of inquiry and online research since 2006.

Posted in Art | Leave a comment

Wisconsin Women Artists Featured at Milwaukee Public Library

In 2016, the Milwaukee Art Museum partnered with Milwaukee Public Library to present Wisconsin Women Artists, an exhibition of paintings on view through September 2019 in the Central Library Art Gallery.

From cultural leaders to art educators, women have played a pivotal role in the development of the arts in the city of Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin. This selection of paintings by Wisconsin women artists spans more than one hundred years and highlights the breadth of their artistic contributions and output, from early realist landscapes and portraits, to abstract and modernist canvases.

Below are just a few of the works featured in the exhibition—stop by the library to see them all!

Susan Cressy’s Birds of Passage

Susan Cressy, Birds of Passage, probably 19211922. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of A Friend. M1922.21.

Anna Louisa Miller’s October Storm of 1949

Anna Louisa Miller, October Storm of 1949, ca. 1949. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Zadok. M1951.5.

Ruth Grotenrath’s Sleeping Girl

Ruth Grotenrath, Sleeping Girl, ca. 1935. Milwaukee Art Museum, Purchase M1935.4. Photo by John R. Glembin.

Ruth Grotenrath’s Untitled

Ruth Grotenrath, Untitled, 1963. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Schomer Lichtner Trust and Kohler Foundation, Inc. M2008.193. Photo by John R. Glembin.

Wisconsin Women Artists is curated by Brandon Ruud, Abert Family Curator of American Art.

Posted in Art | Leave a comment

Women in Design

Female designers: shattering the glass ceiling, while creating glass masterpieces (among other innovative objects)

Though not often recognized as prominently as their male counterparts, female designers have had a significant impact on the world of design, using their creativity and inventiveness to push boundaries and marry the concepts of beauty and practicality. Read below to learn about some of the inspiring female designers featured in the Museum’s Design Galleries.

Marion Mahony Griffin was one of the first women to graduate with a degree in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She later worked as a chief designer for Frank Lloyd Wright for 14 years, not only making substantial contributions to Wright’s projects, but also receiving her own commissions.

Marion Mahony Griffin (American, 1871–1962). Window, from the Gerald Mahony Residence, Elkhart, Indiana  1907. Gift of family and friends in memory of Pamela Jacobs Keegan, architect M1984.14

Margarete Heymann-Löbenstein-Marks (known as Grete Marks) attended three semesters at the Bauhaus, the renowned German art, design, and architecture school, before leaving to establish her own ceramic manufactory. There, she created some of her best-known pieces, like the teapot pictured below.

Designed by Margarete Heymann-Löbenstein-Marks (German, 1899–1990), Manufactured by Haël Werkstätten (Marwitz, Germany, 1923–1934), Teapot, ca. 1930. Purchase, by exchange M2011.17.1a,b. Photo credit: John R. Glembin

Margaret De Patta developed an interest in metalwork in the mid-1930s, after struggling to find a well-designed wedding ring for her first marriage. Though she became very influential in the American jewelry movement, some of her earliest work includes the flatware pictured below.

Margaret De Patta (American, 1903–1964), Place Setting, 1936. Purchase, with funds from the Edward U. Demmer Foundation M2014.74.1–.4. Photo credit: John R. Glembin

Born in Budapest, Eva Zeisel studied ceramics at the Hungarian Royal Academy of Fine Arts and apprenticed at a local porcelain factory, later becoming the first woman admitted to the local pottery guild. She is now well-known for her beautifully playful, yet practical, tableware designs, including some in innovative materials like acrylic resin plastic seen below.

Eva Zeisel (American, b. Hungary, 1906–2011), Manufactured by Clover Box and Manufacturing Company (Bronx, New York, active mid-20th century), Cloverleaf Bowl, from the Cloverware series, 1947. Purchase, with funds from the Demmer Charitable Trust M2017.54. Photo credit: John R. Glembin

Elsa Tennhardt was one of the earliest female industrial designers in the United States. Working in the 1920s, Tennhardt was clearly influenced by Cubism, as shown by the geometric quality and triangular forms that make up the cocktail set she designed, pictured below. The set was featured in a 1928 issue of Harper’s Bazaar, but it did not credit Tennhardt.

Elsa Tennhardt (American, b. Germany, 1889–1980), Manufactured by E. and J. Bass Company (New York, New York, ca. 1890–1930), Cocktail Set, ca. 1928. Purchase, with funds from Demmer Charitable Trust M2015.69.1a-.8. Photo credit: John R. Glembin

Maija Grotell was a Finnish ceramicist who taught at the Cranbrook Academy of Art from 1938-1966. Her pottery is simple in form, but often features decorative carvings or colorful, complex glazes on the exterior. One of her vases (pictured below) will be on display in the upcoming exhibition, Scandinavian Design and the United States, 1890-1980, opening May 15, 2020.

Maija Grotell (American, b. Finland, 1899–1973), Vase, ca. 1950. Purchase, with funds from the Edward U. Demmer Foundation, in memory of Cheryl Robertson, Curator of Decorative Arts at the Milwaukee Art Museum, 1979–1981 and 1993–1996 M2013.41. Photo credit: John R. Glembin

Posted in Art | Leave a comment

Can You Name Five Women Artists?

In honor of Women’s History Month, the Milwaukee Art Museum is joining the National Museum of Women in the Arts in their effort to address the persisting gender imbalance in the art world and highlight more women artists. Though kicking off in March, these efforts will extend far beyond a single month, with special programming focused on female artists all year.

Through the #5WomenArtists campaign, the Museum has pledged to:

  • Organize an exhibition around the work of a woman artist
  • Acquire a new artwork by a woman artist for the Collection
  • Highlight more women artists on social media throughout the year.

So, how are we fulfilling this pledge?

Sara Cwynar: Image Model Muse

In her first solo U.S. exhibition, Cwynar offers feminist perspectives on consumer culture, and reveals the ways in which commercial objects can stand in for larger systems of power. The exhibition, on view between March 8–August 4, 2019, in the Herzfeld Center for Photography and Media Arts, features three of the artist’s most recent films and a series of related photographs.

Sara Cwynar, Tracy (Cezanne), 2017. Dye sublimation print on aluminum mounted on Dibond, 43 x 54 in. Courtesy of the artist, Cooper Cole, Toronto, Foxy Production, New York. © Sara Cwynar

Recent Acquisitions

The Museum recently acquired Woman Crying #18 by Anne Collier. You can see it on view in the Contemporary Art Galleries.

Anne Collier, Woman Crying #18, 2018. Purchase, with funds in memory of Betty Croasdaile and John E. Julien. Photo by
Lisa Sutcliffe.

In the past year, the Museum acquired works by many female artists, including Margery Austen Ryerson, Betty Gold, Deana Lawson, Howardena Pindell, and Alessandra Sanguinetti.


Follow the Milwaukee Art Museum on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and look for our posts with #5WomenArtists. We will be sharing artworks made by women artists from our Collection, along with facts about the artists’ careers, artistic styles, and personal lives, this month and beyond.

Posted in Art | Leave a comment