George Niedecken’s reputation is that of a masterful Prairie School interior architect. However, because he worked as a collaborator to the master Prairie School architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, Niedecken’s legacy is often diminished. In addition to his famous collaborations on Wright’s Robie House (Chicago, Illinois) and Bogk House (Milwaukee, Wisconsin), Niedecken was committed to new American styles for the twentieth century right here in Milwaukee. He studied the European Art Nouveau, Secessionist, and Arts and Crafts movements in Paris and Berlin, and applied these ideas to inspired designs for the living rooms of his Midwestern clients.
I can’t believe that we’re already at the last week of the exhibition Intimate Images of Love and Loss: Portrait Miniatures. Once the show closes this Sunday, October 31, these incredible, tiny masterpieces go back into Museum storage.
In a world before photography, portrait miniatures were the wallet photographs or their day. Made to be held, worn, and hung on the wall of the home as a type of “family album,” the small-scale portraits afford us an extremely personal glimpse into the past. Here are a few of my favorites:
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.
This is a busy time of year at the Museum. On view is European Design Since 1985 and On Site: Chakaia Booker, and Portrait Miniatures closes on October 31. That means there’s plenty to do here, and lots of reasons to visit.
On Tuesday, October 26, the Museum will start its “Soup for Soup” food drive to benefit Hunger Task Force of Milwaukee. Every visitor who makes a donation at the Museum will receive a voucher for a complimentary cup of soup at the Museum’s own Cafe Calatrava. “Soup for Soup” runs through Sunday, November 14. Stop by the admissions desks to learn more.
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.