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American Art Collection Curatorial Modern

Lois Mailou Jones and “The Ascent of Ethiopia”

Egyptian face in the foreground with a group of people climbing a hill to the city
Lois Mailou Jones, The Ascent of Ethiopia, 1932. Oil on canvas. 23 1/2 × 17 1/4 in. Purchase, African American Art Acquisition Fund, matching funds from Suzanne and Richard Pieper, with additional support from Arthur and Dorothy Nelle Sanders, M1993.191. Photo by John R. Glembin. © Lois Mailou Jones Pierre-Noel Trust
Lois Mailou Jones, The Ascent of Ethiopia, 1932. Oil on canvas. 23 1/2 × 17 1/4 in. Purchase, African American Art Acquisition Fund, matching funds from Suzanne and Richard Pieper, with additional support from Arthur and Dorothy Nelle Sanders, M1993.191. Photo by John R. Glembin. © Lois Mailou Jones Pierre-Noel Trust
Lois Mailou Jones, The Ascent of Ethiopia, 1932 (detail). Oil on canvas. 23 1/2 × 17 1/4 in. Purchase, African American Art Acquisition Fund, matching funds from Suzanne and Richard Pieper, with additional support from Arthur and Dorothy Nelle Sanders, M1993.191. Photo by John R. Glembin. © Lois Mailou Jones Pierre-Noel Trust

The artistic talent of Lois Mailou Jones (1905–1988) was recognized at an early age. She received a wide range of encouragement, including scholarships to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, in her native Boston, and after graduating with honors, she assumed teaching was a likely next step. But, in what was the first of several rejections in an openly racist society, she was told to go south and help “her people.”

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American Art Collection Collection Reflection Curatorial

Collection Reflection: Curator Brandon Ruud on Severin Roesen

Man talking to the camera in his home office

We invite you to join us as each curator focuses on a single work of art, exploring both that object and how the object speaks to the collection as a whole, as well as to the chosen theme in particular.

Categories
20th and 21st Century Design American Art Collection Curatorial Exhibitions

MAM Celebrates 150 Years of Frank Lloyd Wright–Part Two: The Potential of Plywood

Frank Lloyd Wright (American, 1867–1959), Usonian Exhibition Dining Chair, 1953. Oak and plywood. Milwaukee Art Museum, Purchase, in memory of Evelyn Brindis Demmer with funds from the the Demmer Charitable Trust, Jody Brindis Goisman & Dick Goisman, Dr. Charles Brindis & Debra L. Brindis, and Wayne & Kristine Lueders.
Frank Lloyd Wright (American, 1867–1959), Usonian Exhibition Dining Chair, 1953. Oak and plywood. Milwaukee Art Museum, Purchase, in memory of Evelyn Brindis Demmer with funds from the the Demmer Charitable Trust, Jody Brindis Goisman & Dick Goisman, Dr. Charles Brindis & Debra L. Brindis, and Wayne & Kristine Lueders.

Though world-renowned (and Wisconsin-born) architect Frank Lloyd Wright is perhaps best remembered for his work in the Prairie Style, this portion of his career was only the first chapter of a much longer story. And so, in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Wright’s birth, the Milwaukee Art Museum is pleased to commemorate multiple aspects of his career—both early and late.

The exhibition Frank Lloyd Wright: Buildings for the Prairie, on-view in the Bradley Family Galleries through October 15, 2017, explores work from the first part of his career, while his later achievements are represented by the acquisition of a Usonian Exhibition House Dining Chair—one of only two such objects that are still extant. The Milwaukee Art Museum is fortunate to have added this rare object to our permanent collection through the support of the Demmer Charitable Trust, Jody Brindis Goisman & Dick Goisman, Dr. Charles Brindis & Debra L. Brindis, and Wayne & Kristine Lueders, who have supported this acquisition in memory of Evelyn Brindis Demmer.

This simple plywood chair was produced for an exhibition held at the Guggenheim museum in New York in 1953, when Wright was 84 years old. Titled The Usonian House: Sixty Years of Living Architecture, the exhibition explored the architect’s efforts in the latter part of his life to produce housing that was affordable, yet still adhered to the high standards of beauty dictated by his philosophy of organic architecture. In fact, the catalog that accompanied the Guggenheim exhibition opened with a forceful statement written by Wright: “I believe a house is more a home by being a work of Art.” In this same publication, Wright even asserted that his approach to architecture aligned, fundamentally, with the principles of American democracy.

Categories
20th and 21st Century Design American Art Collection Curatorial Exhibitions

MAM Celebrates 150 Years of Frank Lloyd Wright–Part One: Presenting Prairie Style

Frank Lloyd Wright (American, 1867–1959). "Tree of Life" Window from the Darwin D. Martin House (Buffalo, New York), 1904. Glass with zinc cames. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the Frederick Layton Art League in memory of Miss Charlotte Partridge and Miss Miriam Frink M1978.262. Photo credit: Richard Beauchamp. © Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.
Frank Lloyd Wright (American, 1867–1959). “Tree of Life” Window from the Darwin D. Martin House (Buffalo, New York), 1904. Glass with zinc cames. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the Frederick Layton Art League in memory of Miss Charlotte Partridge and Miss Miriam Frink M1978.262. Photo credit: Richard Beauchamp. © Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.

This year marks a whopping 150 years since the birth of world-renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

As institutions across the United States host specials exhibitions and events to mark the occasion, the Milwaukee Art Museum has particular reason to celebrate: although Wright has come to represent Midwestern and American architecture at large, he was born and spent much of his life in our own beloved state of Wisconsin.

Wright’s first home was the small farming community of Richland Center, Wisconsin, where he was born in 1867. Wright also spent most of his childhood in Wisconsin (his family relocated briefly to Massachusetts when he was nine), and he attended both high school and college in Madison.

Categories
American Art Collection Curatorial

From the Collection: Paintings by George Inness

George Inness (American, 1825–1894), Autumn by the Sea, 1875. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Bequest of Catherine Jean Quirk M1989.61. Photo credit: John Glembin
George Inness (American, 1825–1894), Autumn by the Sea, 1875. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Bequest of Catherine Jean Quirk M1989.61. Photo credit: John Glembin

George Inness (1825-1894), one of the most celebrated artists of the Hudson River School, captured the beauty of the American landscape in his paintings.

The Milwaukee Art Museum is lucky enough to have two paintings by Inness on display: Autumn by the Sea and Sunset in Georgia. I will use these works to show how Inness mastered the themes of the Hudson River School painters, but made them his own.

Categories
American Art Collection Curatorial Exhibitions

From the Collection: In the Catskills by Asher Brown Durand

A number of the artists featured in the special exhibition Nature and the American Vision: The Hudson River School can also be found in the galleries of the Milwaukee Art Museum. This is the fourth and final in a series of blog posts that will highlight Milwaukee’s artworks during the run of the exhibition.

Asher Brown Durand (American, 1796–1886), In The Catskills, 1857. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Layton Art Collection, Inc., Gift of Frederick Layton L105. Photo credit: Larry Sanders.
Asher Brown Durand (American, 1796–1886), In The Catskills, 1857. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Layton Art Collection, Inc., Gift of Frederick Layton L105. Photo credit: Larry Sanders.

Although they depicted the American landscape, Hudson River School painters found inspiration in Europe.

Traveling to France or Italy to study Old Masters was a common tradition, even for American artists looking to assert their cultural identity, and they adapted European conventions to a uniquely American vision.

For this blog post, we will use the painting In the Catskills by Asher Brown Durand (American, 1796-1886) as a case study, showing the influence of European artistic traditions.

Categories
American Art Collection Curatorial Exhibitions

From the Collection: Frederick Edwin Church and Charles De Wolf Brownell

A number of the artists featured in the special exhibition Nature and the American Vision: The Hudson River School can also be found in the galleries of the Milwaukee Art Museum. This is the third in a series of blog posts that will highlight Milwaukee’s artworks during the run of the exhibition.

Frederic Edwin Church (American, 1826–1900), A Passing Shower, 1860. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Layton Art Collection, Inc. L107. Photo credit: Larry Sanders.
Frederic Edwin Church (American, 1826–1900), A Passing Shower, 1860. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Layton Art Collection, Inc. L107. Photo credit: Larry Sanders.

The first post in this series focused on Thomas Cole, the founder of the Hudson River School. Today we will highlight Cole’s one and only pupil, Fredrick Edwin Church (American, 1826-1900), as well as Church’s very good friend, Charles De Wolf Brownell (American, 1822-1909).

Categories
American Art Collection Curatorial Exhibitions

From the Collection: Albert Bierstadt’s Wind River Mountains, Nebraska Territory

A number of the artists featured in the special exhibition Nature and the American Vision: The Hudson River School can also be found in the galleries of the Milwaukee Art Museum. This is the second in a series of blog posts that will highlight Milwaukee’s artworks during the run of the exhibition.

Albert Bierstadt (American, b. Germany, 1830–1902), Wind River Mountains, Nebraska Territory, 1862. Oil on board. Milwaukee Art Museum, Layton Art Collection, Inc., Purchase L1897.3. Photo credit: Larry Sanders.
Albert Bierstadt (American, b. Germany, 1830–1902), Wind River Mountains, Nebraska Territory, 1862. Oil on board. Milwaukee Art Museum, Layton Art Collection, Inc., Purchase L1897.3. Photo credit: Larry Sanders.

The special exhibition Nature and the American Vision looks at the paintings of the Hudson River School. This week, let’s take a closer look at one of the paintings by this group of artists on view in the American galleries and see how it relates to scientific study.

Today we see science and art as two separate forms of study, but for much of history, they were intertwined. The painters of the Hudson River School worked during the nineteenth century, when science and the humanities had more fluidity.

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American Art Collection

From the Collection: Thomas Cole’s Storm in the Wilderness

A number of the artists featured in the special exhibition Nature and the American Vision: The Hudson River School can also be found in the galleries of the Milwaukee Art Museum. This is the first a series of blog posts that will highlight Milwaukee’s artworks during the run of the exhibition.

Often called the Founder of the Hudson River School, Thomas Cole (1801–1848) holds an important place in the development of American landscape painting. Cole’s Storm in the Wilderness, from the Layton Art Collection and on view in the exhibition, is a good example of the power of his work.

Let’s start with some background. Since the Renaissance, some subjects were considered less important than others. At the top of this hierarchy were historical paintings, which depicted critical events from ancient mythology, politics, and religion. Below that were portraits and genre scenes that captured important persons and contemporary society. And at the very bottom was landscape. Why was that? Landscapes were seen as an inadequate subject for expressing human emotions and societal values.

Categories
American Art Collection Curatorial Exhibitions

Layton Art Collection: 1888-2013, Part 3

When we last left off, Charlotte Partridge was the curator of the Layton Art Gallery, which was located on the northeast corner of North Jefferson street and Mason street. In 1957 the Layton Art Collection joined the Milwaukee Art Institute in the new War Memorial building. Three figures are key to the Layton Art Collection during this third period: Edward Dwight, Tracy Atkinson and Frederick Vogel III.