Categories
Art Curatorial

From the Collection—Elderkin Great Chair

A treasure you’ll find at the Milwaukee Art Museum: One of the oldest known pieces of American furniture to survive. Let me say that again: At the Museum is one of the oldest known pieces of American furniture.

This dramatic chair was made sometime in the mid-1600s in Connecticut or Massachusetts. Of course, at the time of its construction, its maker would have identified himself and the style of this chair as English. And yes, three-legged chairs of this type were not uncommon in England, but on the faraway shores of New England, this Great Chair was a great novelty.

Categories
Art Curatorial

A Time When Modern Was “Degenerate”

This past weekend, I was proud to present a paper at the American Ceramic Circle’s annual symposium on an exhibition topic I’m developing. I spoke about a German designer named Grete Marks who made radical and beautiful ceramics—designs that the Nazi government called “degenerate.”

Categories
Art Curatorial

From the Collection—George Mann Niedecken

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.

Categories
Art Curatorial

My Favorite Portrait Miniatures

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:

Categories
Curatorial Library/Archives

Celebrating Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)

Monografía: Las Obras de José Guadalupe Posada, Grabador Mexicano. Authored by Frances Toor, Pablo O'Higgins, and Blas Vanegas Arroyo. Introduction by Diego Rivera. Publisher: México: Mexican Folkways, 1930. Gift of Philip Pinsof
Monografía: Las Obras de José Guadalupe Posada, Grabador Mexicano. Authored by Frances Toor, Pablo O'Higgins, and Blas Vanegas Arroyo. Introduction by Diego Rivera. Publisher: México: Mexican Folkways, 1930. Gift of Philip Pinsof

In honor of the upcoming celebration for Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), I thought I’d share with you one of my favorite rare books in the Museum’s Collection, the Monografía: Las Obras de José Guadalupe Posada, Grabador Mexicano.  This first edition monograph, published in 1930, includes 406 of the estimated 20,000 works cut by the illustrator and engraver José Guadalupe Posada (Mexican, 1851–1913).