One of the most fascinating (and fun) books in the Museum’s rare book collection is a set of books by the artist Victor Vasarely.
Vasarely’s four-volume set Plastic Arts (1970), which features numerous color plates, foldouts and loose plastic overlays, not only exemplifies his unique approach to art, but equips the viewer with a finite set of colors and forms to play with and manipulate.
Recently, I had the opportunity to open an interesting book in the Museum’s Library entitled Milwaukee’s Great Industries (1892). This 352-page tome features a history of Milwaukee, articles on its various industries, schools, churches, trades, a variety of advertisements, and a list of city facts entitled “Milwaukee in a Nutshell.”
Did you know that in 1892, Milwaukee produced $135 million in goods; had the biggest iron foundry in the world; or produced fully one-third of all the tin-ware used in the United States? And yes, Milwaukee officially had the largest brewery and tannery in the world!
Last but certainly not least–did you know that, in 1892, Milwaukee also had “one of the finest art galleries in the land, and several of the best private art collections in the world”?
While browsing the Museum’s 120+ year history and its more than 3,500 exhibitions, patterns reflecting shifts in cultural taste, local craft, and major world events, are apparent.
History also reveals patterns that sidestep the obvious cultural or historical narrative to stand on their own. One such pattern appears in the series of soap sculpture competitions held at the Museum (known then as the Milwaukee Art Institute) from 1927-1940. At least fifteen national and local soap-sculpture competitions and exhibitions were held over a tirteen-year period.
How did soap sculpting become such a popular part of local and national practice so quickly? The answer, it turns out, was no further away than my own grocery list.
It’s book sale time again! At the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Art Research Library Used Book Sale, you’ll find wonderful materials that are either duplicative or outside of our Library’s collecting area. And, of course, all proceeds benefit the Art Library’s book acquisition fund.
During the first days of March, discover bound treasures, used books on art and art history-related subjects from the Museum’s George Peckham Miller Art Research Library as well as select sale gifts, home and fashion accessories from the Museum Store.
Whether you are on the lookout for books on the paintings of Pablo Picasso, the sculpture of Gaston Lachaise or the drawings of Georgia O’Keeffe, we have books on your favorite artists. And don’t pass up the catalog on the Louvre – we sell it cheaper than a round-trip flight to Paris!
Hope you can join us at this wonderful annual opportunity to let your shopping habits benefit the Museum’s Art Research Library!!
Born on May 6, 1915 in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Academy Award-winning filmmaker (George) Orson Welles’ childhood was a Hollywood story of its own.
His father, Richard Head Welles, was a successful inventor and businessman who made a fortune inventing a carbide bicycle lamp. His mother, Beatrice Ives, was an accomplished pianist and spoken word performer. By the age of six, his parents were separated and Welles moved back to Chicago with Beatrice where she had family. Not long after they arrived in Chicago, however, his beloved mother would die of jaundice when Welles was just nine years old. His father, losing his battle with alcohol, would die when Welles was only 15.
In the wake of Ives’ death, Dudley Crafts Watson (1885-1972), a native of Wisconsin and a cousin of Beatrice Ives, became Welles’ guardian in Chicago. Watson, a vocal advocate for the arts, was the very first director of the Milwaukee Art Institute–which was renamed from the Milwaukee Art Society shortly after Watson’s arrival, and is known today as the Milwaukee Art Museum.