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Art Curatorial

From the Collection—Bengtsson’s Slice Chair

Mathias Bengtsson (Danish, b. 1971) Slice Chair, 1999 Aluminum 29 1/2 x 35 x 29 in. (74.93 x 88.9 x 73.66 cm) Gift of Friends of Art M2011.11 Photo credit John R. Glembin © Mathias Bengtsson, Courtesy of Industry Gallery
Mathias Bengtsson (Danish, b. 1971), Slice Chair, 1999. Aluminum; 29 1/2 x 35 x 29 in. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Friends of Art M2011.11. Photo credit John R. Glembin. © Mathias Bengtsson, Courtesy of Industry Gallery.

In honor of last week’s opening of European Design Since 1985: Shaping the New Century, I thought I’d share a bit about why the Museum has used this striking aluminum chair so heavily in the exhibition’s marketing.

You saw this chair’s curves on banners and the cover of the MAM Insider (the Museum’s Member magazine), all over the Museum’s exhibition website, and even on little details like admission vouchers.

As a lover of beautiful things, I’m drawn to the dazzling shimmer of the aluminum surface and the undulating form of this design.

As a curator who loves to talk about art, I’m also drawn to the ideas behind the chair. I feel like you could talk about this chair all day.

Categories
Art

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

Gustave Courbet, Clément Laurier, 1855. Gift of Friends of Art. Photo by John Nienhuis, Dedra Walls.
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?)

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Art Events Exhibitions

What’s happening at the Milwaukee Art Museum Sept. 30-Oct. 9

It is a busy week at the Museum, with two exhibitions opening and one closing, plus free admission on Thursday, October 7. The time to visit is now!

On Thursday, September 30, experience the opening of the newest on site installation by featured artist Chakaia Booker. Manhattan-based Booker uses cut tires to create relief, free standing, pedestal, and outdoor sculpture. Over a dozen works will be on display in Baumgartner Galleria through February, 2011, for On Site: Chakaia Booker.

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Art

From the Collection — Edwin Landseer’s “Portrait of a Terrier”

Edwin Landseer, Portrait of a Terrier, The Property of Owen Williams, ESQ., M.P. (Jocko with a Hedgehog), 1828. Gift of Erwin C. Uihlein. Photo by Larry Sanders.
Edwin Landseer, Portrait of a Terrier, The Property of Owen Williams, ESQ., M.P. (Jocko with a Hedgehog), 1828. Gift of Erwin C. Uihlein. Photo by Larry Sanders.
This week is National Dog Week – and what better Museum dweller to highlight than brave Jocko (and his unfortunate companion, the hedgehog) in honor of this important holiday?

Categories
Art Curatorial

From the Collection— Tiffany gold Tea Service

In any museum gallery, you will encounter rare and valuable pieces of art. We value well-designed objects for many reasons, including for their materials and craft, their aesthetic design, and sometimes the people associated with them. This luxurious Tiffany & Co. Tea Service from 1905 is a rare object with incredible value in all three categories.

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Art

From the Collection—English Posset Pot

This unusual form with an even odder name begs the question: what is a posset pot?

Posset pots were specially designed for the consumption of a warm, spiced drink popular from the Medieval period into the 19th century. The nourishing beverage, posset, was used to strengthen new mothers, the sick, or the elderly. Though it turns my stomach slightly to think of it, a good posset recipe should result in several layers caused by curdling.  The drink is made from milk beaten with eggs, sugar, and spices and curdled with ale or wine, but bread could be added to thicken it. The curdled milk rises to the top, the eggs create a custard mid-layer, and at the bottom is a warm spicy alcoholic drink, accessible only through the straw-like spout of a posset pot’s distinctive shape.

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Art

From the Collection — Sofonisba Anguissola’s “The Artist’s Sister”

Sofonisba Anguissola, The Artist's Sister Minerva Anguissola, ca. 1564. Layton Art Collection, Gift of the Family of Mrs. Frederick Vogel, Jr. Photo by P. Richard Eells
Sofonisba Anguissola, The Artist's Sister Minerva Anguissola, ca. 1564. Layton Art Collection, Gift of the Family of Mrs. Frederick Vogel, Jr. Photo by P. Richard Eells

The work of an art historian or curator can sometimes be like that of a master investigator or CIA agent. For example, a trail of clues led to the probable identification of the woman in this painting by Sofonisba Anguissola. Anguissola is one of the earliest identified female artists, working in Italy in the late 1500s. Rare for the Renaissance, Anguissola was famous in her own time and worked as the court painter for the King of Spain, a job she secured thanks to the portraits of her family that she’d painted as she grew up and honed her skills. The girl in this image is the spitting image of many of Anguissola’s family members, with her round face, large hooded eyes, and long nose. But Anguissola had five sisters and two brothers, so who is this?

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Art

From the Collection—Marcel Breuer’s Reclining Chair

My favorite design objects are those that ring familiar, but also offer a story-telling twist, like Marcel Breuer’s aluminum Chaise Longue No. 313–or Reclining Chair–in our Museum’s permanent collection.

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Art

Reasons Why the Art World is Small

Museum offices with view toward Richard Bosman's Bar Talk (1983).
Museum offices with view toward Richard Bosman's Bar Talk (1983).

This morning, on my way back from the docent room, I stopped at the crossroads of the main drag of the Museum’s offices. About to turn right to my cubicle, I found myself suddenly stopped by this painting, which hangs at the end of the hallway next to our director’s office. I see this painting at least twice a day, but I’d never stopped to really look at it. And so, I decided to investigate.

Categories
Art

“Well-behaved women seldom make history”

In the spirit of Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s famous quote, I would like to introduce you to one of the most notorious women in the Museum – the Marchesa Luisa Casati.  According to her biographers, the Marchesa is the most depicted woman in art history after Madonna, Eve, and Helen of Troy.  It doesn’t hurt to mention that she commissioned as many artists as she could for a huge gallery of her own portraits in her lavish, international party center of a house.