Get ready: The Museum is launching its first iPod Touch Tour for families on March 12, 2011! It is currently in production. Here’s Ayiana Scott–she is 7 years old and one of our narrators for the A is for Art tour, designed especially for younger viewers. She’s the voice behind the tour.
On Wednesday, February 2, the Museum joined more than a thousand other organizations, schools, and businesses and took a day off in observance of the powerful—and beautiful—art of snow. The sculpted drifts and chiseled voids captured the nation’s attention. How could one not take notice of the blizzard’s swirling dances and howling bass as the sky and the ground were painted with fluid and at times violent strokes? Many people took pictures, documenting this strange new coating of the landscape. Routines were disrupted, and we were forced to look anew at the buildings, streets, and passageways we often dismiss as we go about our day. We’re reminded of our mortality and our insignificance. We both fear and delight in the choreography of hundreds of millions of snowflakes.
In the American Collections of the Milwaukee Art Museum is an example of the long-standing artistic tradition, the still life painting. Apple and Two Pears on a Pewter Plate (1861) by Rubens Peale, speaks both to the history of the still life genre and the Peale family’s American artistic dynasty.
Historical origins of the still life trace back to antiquity, but it was not until the Renaissance that still life painting rose and flourished as a distinct tradition, when painters throughout Europe explored the art of painting a carefully arranged assemblage of objects.
One of the highlights for visitors to the Milwaukee Art Museums is Chuck Close’s 1968 portrait of Nancy Graves, with its incredible, photo-realistic virtuosity and its huge scale amplifying every facial imperfection in a disquieting, surreal way.
Visitors may not realize that the subject of the painting, Nancy Graves, was a celebrated artist in her own right.
Best known for her early sculptures of highly realistic camels (in a conceit that turned the museum into the zoo), she later incorporated banal objects like children’s toys into Alexander Calder’s and David Smith’s high modernist language of constructed sculpture. Graves was also a painter, and one of her paintings, Object Disguised 4 Times, 1982, is on view in the new installation of the contemporary art galleries.
When I was a freshman in high school, I came to the Milwaukee Art Museum on a field trip with my art class. We were instructed to sit in front of Jules Bastien-Lepage’s The Woodgatherer (1881) and take as many notes as possible on what we saw and what it meant to us, so that we could later write a paper on it.