Categories
Art

From the Collection: Kees van Dongen’s “Woman with Cat”

Kees van Dongen, Woman with Cat, 1908 (detail). Gift of Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley. Photo by Richard Eells. ©2010 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Kees van Dongen, Woman with Cat, 1908. Gift of Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley. Photo by Richard Eells. ©2010 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

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.

Categories
Behind the Scenes

Just Relax!

Sunrise over the lake with the Museum in the foreground

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.

Categories
Education

Thank You, Junior Docents

A thank you note from a 2009 Junior Docent.
A thank you note from a 2009 Junior Docent.

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!

Categories
Events

Art of the Table

Robert Therrien, Under the Table, 1994. Wood, metal, and enamel. 117 x 312 x 216 in. overall. The Broad Art Foundation, Santa Monica. ©Robert Therrien. Photo ©Douglas M. Parker Studio, Los Angeles.
Robert Therrien, Under the Table, 1994. Wood, metal, and enamel. 117 x 312 x 216 in. overall. The Broad Art Foundation, Santa Monica. ©Robert Therrien. Photo ©Douglas M. Parker Studio, Los Angeles.

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.

Categories
Art Collection

From the Collection: ’Tis the Season

Gathering of people dancing underneath a large tree
Ludwig Knaus (German, 1829–1910), Dance under the Linden Tree, 1881 (detail). Oil on canvas. Gift of the René von Schleinitz Foundation M1962.31. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.
Gathering of people dancing underneath a large tree
Ludwig Knaus (German, 1829–1910), Dance under the Linden Tree, 1881. Oil on canvas. Gift of the René von Schleinitz Foundation M1962.31. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.

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.

Categories
Education

Satellite: Field Trip

Young women sitting and having a conversation
Satellite Students in Katie Musolff’s studio at the Pfister Hotel.

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.

Categories
Art

From the Collection: Francisco de Zurbarán’s “St. Francis”

Man in brown hooded robe looking down at a skull in his hands
Francisco de Zurbarán, Saint Francis of Assisi in His Tomb, ca. 1630/34 (detail). Purchase M1958.70. Photo credit John Nienhuis, Dedra Walls
Francisco de Zurbarán, Saint Francis of Assisi in His Tomb, ca. 1630/34. Purchase M1958.70. Photo credit John Nienhuis, Dedra Walls

Ever wondered what it’s like to experience a religious epiphany? Just walk into Gallery 6 and look to Francisco de Zurbarán’s St. Francis of Assisi in His Tomb, one of the great masterpieces in the Museum’s Collection. St. Francis towers above us in a massive, stark painting, lit only by unseen torchlight, his face hidden and a skull cradled in his palms. The space is unclear, the colors muted. He is monumental, and walks towards us: his foot pokes out of his robes, entering into our space. When I stand in front of this painting, I always feel like I should take a step back and get out of his way.

Categories
Education

Satellite: Experiments

Satellite students study Northern Baroque works in the Collection galleries.
Satellite students study Northern Baroque works in the Collection galleries.

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.

Categories
Art Exhibitions

From the Collection: Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s “The Shepherdess”

Jean-Honoré Fragonard, The Shepherdess, ca. 1750/52 (detail). Bequest of Leon and Marion Kaumheimer. Photo credit John Nienhuis, Dedra Walls
Jean-Honoré Fragonard, The Shepherdess, ca. 1750/52. Bequest of Leon and Marion Kaumheimer. Photo credit John Nienhuis, Dedra Walls

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!”

Categories
Art

From the Collection: Gustave Courbet’s “Clement Laurier”

Portrait of a man in a black suit
Gustave Courbet, Clément Laurier, 1855 (detail). Gift of Friends of Art. Photo by John Nienhuis, Dedra Walls.
Portrait of a man in a black suit
Gustave Courbet, Clément Laurier, 1855. Gift of Friends of Art. Photo by John Nienhuis, Dedra Walls.

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?