Categories
Art Curatorial

From the Collection–Auguste Rodin’s The Kiss

Auguste Rodin (French 1840-1917), The Kiss (Paolo and Francesca), 1886. Painted plaster 34 x 20 1/2 x 23 1/4 in. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Will Ross in Memory of Her Husband (M1966.117). Photo by Larry Sanders.

There is no ignoring it: today is Valentine’s Day.

There is also no ignoring the fact that love and lust have inspired terrific artwork. Perhaps the best artwork, if you are a romantic like me. I’m obviously not the first in the blogosphere to notice this–last week a sweet “10 Best Art Kisses of All Time” article made the email/Facebook/blog rounds. And, raise your hand if you ever had Gustav Klimt’s 1907 The Kiss on a poster? Me too.

In the Museum’s collection, a classic work to single out that focuses on art and love is the plaster cast of Auguste Rodin’s The Kiss (Paolo and Francesca). When I revisited The Kiss, my first question was:

Who are Paolo and Francesca?

Categories
Art Art News

Packers, Steelers, and Impressionism

Gustave Caillebotte, Boating on the Yerres (Périssoires sur l’Yerres), 1877 (detail). Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the Milwaukee Journal Company, in honor of Miss Faye McBeath. Photo by John R. Glembin
Gustave Caillebotte, Boating on the Yerres (Périssoires sur l’Yerres), 1877. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the Milwaukee Journal Company, in honor of Miss Faye McBeath. Photo by John R. Glembin

All of my friends and coworkers can attest to just how ridiculously excited I was after the Packers and the Steelers won the playoff games. Full confession, though—it’s not because I’m a football fan. Nah. It’s because I knew this meant my current workplace, Milwaukee Art Museum, of course, and my former workplace, the Carnegie Museum of Art (yep, I’m from the ‘Burgh), would be pitted against each other in the now-annual Super Bowl Art Bet.

Categories
Art Curatorial

From the Collection–The Newsboy

American (Pawtucket, Rhode Island), The Newsboy, 1888. Carved, assembled and painted wood with folded tin. Milwaukee Art Museum, The Michael and Julie Hall Collection of American Folk Art. Photo by John Nienhuis.

The Museum often uses The Newsboy as a poster child for our spectacular Michael and Julie Hall Collection of American Folk Art. The education department includes it on our Family Audio Tour, and the energetic boy has a place of honor on view in the Museum’s Folk & Self-Taught Galleries on the Upper Level. However, I personally didn’t know a thing about this wonderful….er.. sculpture? Statue? Sign? I didn’t even know what to call him!

For this “From the Collection” I thought it was time for me to learn more about this Museum treasure.

The Newsboy is a trade sign. An artful sculpture, certainly, but also an object that was made with a pragmatic purpose in mind. In 1888 Pawtucket, Rhode Island, where this trade sign was made by an unknown artist, a larger percentage of the population would have been illiterate. Merchants relied on eye-catching storefront signs like this one to grab the attention of passers-by without the need for words.

Categories
Art Museum Buildings

From the Collection: Marble Through the Ages

Gaetano Trentanove, The Last of the Spartans, ca. 1892 (detail). Marble. Layton Art Collection, Gift of William E. Cramer. Photo by the author.

The Museum Collection contains endless stories. Our paintings hold narratives of mythological legends; decorative art objects tell us of life way-back-when; contemporary art puts our finger on the pulse of what is going on now. But have you ever traced a story through the Collection? There are many ways to do this: you could follow an artist’s work through his or her lifetime, a collector’s vision (Mrs. Bradley, Mr. Layton, the list goes on…), or you could really veer off the beaten track and follow the story of a material—you know, what an art object is made out of. One of our super-star materials? Marble!

Categories
Art Curatorial

From the Collection–Rubens Peale “Apple and Two Pears on a Pewter Plate”

Rubens Peale (American, 1784–1865), Apple and Two Pears on a Pewter Plate, 1861. Milwaukee Art Museum, Purchase, Layton Art Collection. Photo by John R. Glembin.

In the American Collections of the Milwaukee Art Museum is an example of the long-standing artistic tradition, the still life painting. Apple and Two Pears on a Pewter Plate (1861) by Rubens Peale, speaks both to the history of the still life genre and the Peale family’s American artistic dynasty.

Historical origins of the still life trace back to antiquity, but it was not until the Renaissance that still life painting rose and flourished as a distinct tradition, when painters throughout Europe explored the art of painting a carefully arranged assemblage of objects.

Categories
Art Curatorial

A Meal with Toussaint L’Ouverture

Possibly by the Sables Pottery (Medford, Massachusetts), Pitcher, ca. 1840-50. Stoneware with “Rockingham” style glaze. Chipstone Foundation.

It’s been an exciting few weeks for us at the Chipstone Foundation. First, I’d like to introduce Kate Smith, the newest member of the Chipstone team (welcome Kate!), who’s come all the way from England to study our collection.

A couple of weeks ago, we attended and participated in the American Ceramic Circle conference hosted at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Some of the highlights were: Luke Beckerdite’s (curator of Art in Clay) interesting talk on North Carolina earthenware; Rob Hunter’s (editor of Ceramics in America) entertaining and funny lecture on his top ten discoveries published in Ceramics in America; Mel Buchanan’s (Milwaukee Art Museum, assistant curator of 20th c. design) insight into Grete Marks’ ceramics; Ethan Lasser’s (Chipstone curator) new and innovative forms of curating; and Jon Prown (Chipstone’s director) lecture about a Toussaint L’Ouverture pitcher.

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
Art

From the Collection: Edwin Landseer’s “Portrait of a Terrier”

Edwin Landseer (English, 1802–1873), Portrait of a Terrier, The Property of Owen Williams, ESQ., M.P. (Jocko with a Hedgehog), 1828 (detail). Oil on canvas
39 15/16 × 49 3/16 in. (101.44 × 124.94 cm). Gift of Erwin C. Uihlein M1967.79. Photo by Larry Sanders
Edwin Landseer (English, 1802–1873), Portrait of a Terrier, The Property of Owen Williams, ESQ., M.P. (Jocko with a Hedgehog), 1828. Oil on canvas
39 15/16 × 49 3/16 in. (101.44 × 124.94 cm). Gift of Erwin C. Uihlein M1967.79. Photo by Larry Sanders

This week is National Dog Week—and what better Museum dweller to highlight than brave Jocko (and his unfortunate companion, the hedgehog) in honor of this important holiday?