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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.

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Art Collection Collection Reflection Curatorial Photography and Media Arts

Collection Reflection: Curator Lisa Sutcliffe on John Houck

Two glass jars, one with paint and one with water and a brush
John Houck, First Set, 2015 (detail). Inkjet print. Image and sheet: 21 1/2 × 27 1/2 in. (54.61 × 69.85 cm). Purchase, with funds in memory of Betty Croasdaile and John E. Julien, M2016.76. Photo courtesy of On Stellar Rays, New York, New York. © John Houck
Two glass jars, one with paint and one with water and a brush
John Houck, First Set, 2015 (detail). Inkjet print. Image and sheet: 21 1/2 × 27 1/2 in. (54.61 × 69.85 cm). Purchase, with funds in memory of Betty Croasdaile and John E. Julien, M2016.76. Photo courtesy of On Stellar Rays, New York, New York. © John Houck

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
Art Collection Collection Reflection Curatorial Prints and Drawings

Collection Reflection: Associate Curator Nikki Otten on Odilon Redon

Multi-colored flowers in a blue vase
Odilon Redon (French, 1840–1916), Vase of Flowers, 1900/16 (detail). Pastel on paper. 35 × 28 in. (88.9 × 71.12 cm). Purchase, Marjorie Tiefenthaler Bequest and partial gift of Louise Uihlein Snell Fund of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation M1996.37. Photo by Larry Sanders

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.

In this first iteration, we examine the notion of still life as it has been treated in artwork across time.

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Art Collection Collection Reflection Curatorial European

Collection Reflection: Curator Tanya Paul on Jan van Os

Multi-colored flowers overflowing in vase
Jan van Os (Dutch, 1744–1808), Flowers in Terra-cotta Vase, after 1780 (detail). Oil on panel, 35 1/8 × 27 5/8 in. (89.22 × 70.17 cm). Layton Art Collection Inc., Gift of Frederick Layton L111 Photo by John R. Glembin

A museum’s collection is, by its very nature, carefully organized, its objects categorized by geographic origin, medium, chronology, and other defining characteristics. However, works of art have many qualities that defy these traditional institutional divisions. Through a series of videos, we will examine these broader elements, seeking commonalities and new ways of connecting the works in the Museum’s collection. 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
Art Collection Curatorial Prints and Drawings

Peasants and Preservation: The Barbizon School Artists and the Struggle for Fontainebleau Forest

Jean-François Millet, The Shepherdess—large plate, 1862(detail). Etching. Maurice and Esther Leah Ritz Collection, M2004.245. Photo by Efraim Lev-er.
Jean-François Millet, The Shepherdess—large plate, 1862. Etching. Maurice and Esther Leah Ritz Collection, M2004.245. Photo by Efraim Lev-er.

Upon first glance, The Shepherdess by Jean-François Millet seems to represent a purely bucolic scene in rural France. Millet completed the etching in 1862, and in it, we see a woman knitting while her sheep graze in a field in the distance. She wears a cape, a bonnet, and sabots—wooden shoes associated with the lower classes in France. Her face is obscured by the shade of the trees growing behind the boulder where she rests. On her right, a dog keeps watch over the sheep. A sense of purposeful stillness pervades the scene. Despite the tranquility of the image, however, the setting and activities it depicts are closely related to ecological debates that took place in French society between the 1830s and 1870s. One such debate centered on Fontainebleau Forest.

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Art Behind the Scenes Collection Curatorial

The Curators’ Game: Collection Rotation

Open sea under a gray and blue sky
Milwaukee Art Museum Purchase, Richard and Ethel Herzfeld Foundation Acquisition Fund M2001.154 Photo by John R. Glembin
Open sea under a gray and blue sky
Milwaukee Art Museum Purchase, Richard and Ethel Herzfeld Foundation Acquisition Fund M2001.154. Photo by John R. Glembin

What happens when a group of curators following the Safer at Home order plays a game with works from the Museum’s collection? You’re about to find out.

Categories
Art Collection Curatorial European Exhibitions Prints and Drawings

From the Collection: An Illuminated Manuscript

French, Leaf from a Liturgical Psalter, early 14th century. Tempera, ink, and gold leaf on parchment. 6 3/8 × 4 7/16 in. (16.19 × 11.27 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Paula Uihlein M1932.108. Photo credit: John R. Glembin
French, Leaf from a Liturgical Psalter, early 14th century. Tempera, ink, and gold leaf on parchment. 6 3/8 × 4 7/16 in. (16.19 × 11.27 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Paula Uihlein M1932.108. Photo credit: John R. Glembin
French, Leaf from a Liturgical Psalter, early 14th century (detail). Tempera, ink, and gold leaf on parchment. 6 3/8 × 4 7/16 in. (16.19 × 11.27 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Paula Uihlein M1932.108. Photo credit: John R. Glembin

Before the invention of the printing press in the fifteenth century, books were handwritten. Imagine…every time a copy of a text needed to be made, someone had to do it painstakingly by hand. In our world of quick reproductions and the ease of hitting “print”, this can be hard to believe!

The exhibition The Art of Devotion: Illuminated Manuscripts from Local Collections, on view at the Milwaukee Art Museum through June 16, 2019, aims to provide an introduction to these handwritten texts—called manuscripts—that were made in the middle ages and early Renaissance. A good number of those manuscripts are also illuminated, or decorated with gold, silver, and bright colors that make them literally look like they shine from within.

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20th and 21st Century Design Art Collection Curatorial

20th-Century Tools for Measuring Time and Bodies

Isamu Noguchi for Measured Time, Inc., Clock and Kitchen Timer, ca. 1932 (detail). Bakelite, metal, glass, and painted metal. Gift from the George R. Kravis II Collection M2018.246. Photo: Sotheby’s, © Sotheby’s, Inc. 2016, © 2017 The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Isamu Noguchi for Measured Time, Inc., Clock and Kitchen Timer, ca. 1932. Bakelite, metal, glass, and painted metal. Gift from the George R. Kravis II Collection M2018.246. Photo: Sotheby’s, © Sotheby’s, Inc. 2016, © 2017 The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Isamu Noguchi for Measured Time, Inc., Clock and Kitchen Timer, ca. 1932. Bakelite, metal, glass, and painted metal. Gift from the George R. Kravis II Collection M2018.246. Photo: Sotheby’s, © Sotheby’s, Inc. 2016, © 2017 The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Clocks, calculators, measuring tapes, and scales—tools for measurement and calculation have long been important for people to accomplish tasks at work, school, and home. A new display in the 20th- and 21st-Century Design Galleries considers the role designers played in shaping such devices in the twentieth century, with examples from the 1920s-1980s. On one hand, these objects demonstrate how many designers aimed to make tools that are simple to use and easy to read, such as the streamlined kitchen clock and timer that Isamu Noguchi designed for Measured Time, Inc. in the early 1930s. At the same time, these designs bring to light how measurement and calculation have been closely linked to the human body in the twentieth century, as this post explores.

Though the practice of timekeeping extends back thousands of years, new strategies of labor management emerged in the early twentieth century that placed particular emphasis on keeping track of time and bodies in tandem. In the United States, labor theorists Frederick Taylor and Frank and Lillian Gilbreth introduced and popularized methods of scientific management. In particular, they used time and motion studies to first evaluate workers’ behavior, and then modify it for maximum efficiency. [1] The Gilbreths developed the chronocyclograph, which used small electric lights attached to workers’ bodies to produce images of tasks being accomplished over time. The idea was that through such studies, inefficient ways of working could be identified and replaced with standard practices that would increase productivity at work and at home. [2]

Categories
20th and 21st Century Design Art Behind the Scenes Curatorial Education Events Exhibitions

The House of Cards Project

UWM-Milwaukee Peck School of the Arts students (left to right) Anna Emerson, Paul Manley, and Jessica Schubkegel installing the House of Cards spiral. Photo by Ray Chi.
spiral
UWM-Milwaukee Peck School of the Arts students (left to right) Anna Emerson, Paul Manley, and Jessica Schubkegel installing the House of Cards spiral. Photo by Ray Chi.

In the early 1950s, designers Charles and Ray Eames painstakingly arranged penny cars, pencils, pills, and papers to photograph for their House of Cards construction set. They probably never imagined that decades later, thousands of children and adults in the Milwaukee region would meticulously decorate their own House of Cards, let alone that these cards would be installed together in a towering spiral at the Milwaukee Art Museum in conjunction with the exhibition Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America.

Categories
Art Collection Curatorial Exhibitions Photography and Media Arts

Curating Ho-Chunk Objects in Mrs. M.—’s Cabinet at the Milwaukee Art Museum

Painting of a brown, woven basket
Egg basket (circa 1900).
Egg basket (circa 1900).
Egg basket (circa 1900).

Ho-Chunk presence and their arts contributed to the development of Wisconsin Dells tourism—and to the material and aesthetic culture of the state. While Ho-Chunk representation is not always considered by tourists beyond stereotypical art for the trade, there is still a long and well-documented history of Ho-Chunk material life in the Wisconsin Dells area. The Ho-Chunk objects currently on exhibition in Mrs. M—’s Cabinet, are not the expected souvenirs of the Wisconsin Dells trade, but give a glimpse into the unfamiliar Ho-Chunk objects made and used in the Dells in the late 19th century.

In the exhibition Photographing Nature’s Cathedrals: Carleton E. Watkins, Eadweard Muybridge, and H.H. Bennett, an image by Henry Hamilton Bennett illustrates the acknowledgement of the unseen Native American presence within the Wisconsin Dells landscape. Looking out from Black Hawk’s Cave is one example of Bennett labeling his photographs with fictional place names and after real historical figures. Bennett used the Sauk Chief’s name in an effort to sell a romanticized American Indian legend to tourists.