I’m just going to come right out and say it: I am consistently drawn to this painting because one of my cats looks just like Kees van Dongen’s long, lithe black feline in this painting. While thoughts of my beloved pet (and admittedly, attempts to push away considerations of my possible future as a cat lady) are initially what strike me as I approach this work, the reason I continue time after time to get up close and study it is not its subject, but that color.
Author: Chelsea Emelie Kelly
For the past two weeks, I’ve been lucky enough to be on vacation in London and New York City—and true to form, the vast majority of my time was spent in museums. The big ones (you know: the Met, MoMA, the Tate). The crammed-with-people ones. The ones that left me pining for just a spot to sit down in front of one of those famous works and not be elbowed by people.
Happily, when I came back to work and took a stroll through our galleries, I was not bombarded by bodies—instead, I had lots of space to wander. My trip helped me remember that sometimes a visitor just wants to relax in an art museum. In that spirit, here are my top 3 favorite spots in the Milwaukee Art Museum to rest and refresh before hitting the art again.
Thank You, Junior Docents
The Museum’s Junior Docents are 5th graders who spend three years studying the Museum’s Collection, then graduate from the program by doing a presentation on a single work of art. The program has been around since 1976, making it over thirty years old! In fact, many of my friends here in the city, now in their mid-twenties, were Junior Docents when they were in fifth grade. Every year around April and May, the Museum receives wonderful thank you notes from recent Junior Docent graduates. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought I’d share a few of my favorites!
Art of the Table
Alberto Alessi. Giant tables. The Museum’s Collection. Anthropologie. Broadway Paper. JoAnna Poehlmann. What could these people, places, and objects possibly have in common? Nothing less than the event I’m perhaps most excited about this year at the Museum: Art of the Table! Taking inspiration from Art in Bloom and European Design Since 1985, Art of the Table brings together interior designers, artists, and home furnishers to create tabletop, in-gallery installations inspired by the Museum’s artwork. Oh, and there is that 10-foot-tall table in Windhover Hall.
From the Collection: ’Tis the Season
Earlier this week, as I walked to work, seeing my breath in front of me with my hands stuffed in my pockets, noticing that the trees were mostly bare, I had to admit to myself: winter just might be here. But part of me doesn’t want to dig out the winter coat and put away the flip-flops. I’m channeling my split-season-personality in this post by featuring two works in our Von Schleinitz collection of German art, which live right next to each other in Gallery 9.
Satellite: Field Trip
This week, the Satellite High School students took a field trip to the Pfister Hotel to visit Katie Musolff, a full-time artist working in Milwaukee, and a Satellite graduate! Katie generously let us into her studio and shared her experiences and advice, from being a Satellite high school student, to her time at MIAD (Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design), to her decision to make her art her job. Since many of the Satellite students are artists themselves, this was a great opportunity.
Satellite students have been tagging, talking, and sketching in the past two weeks at the Museum. Traveling through Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and France (virtually, of course), we’ve looked at figural paintings, portraits, and still lifes, and have even done some time-traveling to compare artwork hundreds of years apart.
In my high school art history class, my teacher, having covered with reverence the high-contrast drama of the Baroque, flipped the slide machine to show Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s The Swing and paused, glaring at the slide in the darkened room. Then she pronounced: “The Rococo. I loathe the Rococo! The Rococo is art history’s porn!”
Speaking of curious museum coincidences, here’s yet one more. I knew the identity of the man in the Museum’s Courbet painting (Clement Laurier), but what I didn’t know was that Courbet also painted a portrait of Laurier’s wife. After popping onto the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Timeline of Art History for some entirely unrelated research, I came across Courbet’s rendering of Madame Laurier, which lives in the Met! And then I immediately sat down to write this blog post instead of doing my original research. Always nice when your procrastination relates to your job, right?