A young boy kneels at the beach, drawing a sailboat into the wet sand with a stick. The sun beats on his bare skin and makes him almost glow with warmth and light. Behind him, water licks at his feet, cool and tempting. Although he is intent on his project, we know that once he has gotten too hot, he will lose interest and go back into the water.
Now that’s it September, I thought we’d have one more taste of summer by exploring Drawing in the Sand by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida (Spanish, 1863-1923), which is on view in Gallery 11.
Duane Hanson’s lifelike Janitor (1973) is one of the Museum’s most beloved works of art. It generates curiosity on many levels: How did the artist make the sculpture so realistic? What does this photo-realistic artwork mean? What does he wear under his uniform? How does the Museum take care of this unusual work of art?
To that final question, “carefully and creatively” is the answer that the Museum’s Docents recently learned from senior conservator Jim DeYoung. The Milwaukee Art Museum agreed to loan Janitor to the Walker Art Center for the Lifelike exhibition, Feb 25 – May 27, 2012. In preparation for the artwork’s exhibition in Minneapolis, Jim’s conservation team turned their restoration attention and considerable skills to making Janitor appear in pristine condition and ready for travel.
The details of this restoration are fascinating.
Curious about how a conservator cleans 40-year-old human hair affixed to plastic? Hint: They don’t use Head and Shoulders shampoo. Read on to find out more!
The year 2012 is considered the 50th anniversary of the American Studio Glass movement. The anniversary is being celebrated with exhibitions and events across the country, organized in large part by the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass.
The Milwaukee Art Museum has a terrific collection of studio glass, and we were thrilled to be part of the celebration. Along one wall of the newly-designed Kohl’s Art Generation Studio is a new installation that celebrates using glass as a medium of creative impulse.
The glass sparkles, tells an important art history story, and I hope that its visual beauty inspires young artists as they create their own artwork nearby.
What is the American Studio Glass movement, and what is this anniversary?
On Tuesday, November 22, 2011 a chair was born in the most unlikely of places, Sweet Water Organics.
Sweet Water Organics is an urban acquaponic farm located in the Bayview neighborhood of Milwaukee. If you haven’t already been, you should make it a point to visit. The space is amazing.
It’s a big open warehouse with rows of fish tanks. There are beds of lettuce and other vegetables growing above the water tanks, being fed by the tanks below. In Sweet Water’s sustainable system, the plants act as a water filter for the fish and the fish waste acts as natural fertilizer for the plants.
The Sweet Water Foundation uses a wide-open space in the building as an area for performances, artist collaborations, and educational programming. Their mission is to develop inter-generational and interdisciplinary educational programming for sustainability with a focus on the potential of urban agriculture and aquaculture in the 21st century setting.
Conversations between Jesse Blom of Sweet Water Foundation and Michael Carriere of the Milwaukee School of Engineering led to the idea of having artist Hongtao Zhou create a wax chair at the urban farm.
MIAD has a significant collection of industrial design objects–ranging wildly from a Betty Crocker mixer to wheelchairs to a Motorola Razr cell phone. In 2010 MIAD’s webmaster Dave O’Meara and MIAD alumnus Dave Hinkle created a new digital catalog of these objects and illustrations.
To celebrate and advertise the possibilities of this new resource, Mark Lawson used it at the center of an exhibition. He called in a variety of voices to help, and I was thrilled to be one of the six involved.
The industrial revolution of the 19th century brought drastic and sometimes violent changes to European cities. By the beginning of the 20th century, artists in Germany were responding to the time’s social struggles and political unrest through their revolutionary artistic style and new subject matter.
The German Expressionists were one such art movement that reacted to these changes. Turning to simplified or distorted forms and bold colors, these artists tended to focused on humanistic themes and high emotion.
In October 2010, the Museum added a new dimension to its early 20th-century German collection by acquiring a painting by the artist Hans Baluschek (German, 1870-1935), which has just been put on display in Gallery #12 with other European Modernism.
Agnes Martin’s work can be tricky, all lines and grids and pale neutrals. It used to make me wonder, what’s the big deal? Pencil marks and a wash of color–not so impressive. I chalked it up to those nutty Abstract Expressionists and Minimalists, divorcing themselves from the real world and delving into a world I didn’t know how to get into.
But then I got a job as a docent at my college’s art museum, the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center. I gave tours, but I also spent a lot of time in the galleries at the docent’s table, where we waited for visitors to ask us questions (and maybe did some homework when things were slow). The table was situated right across from their Martin, The Harvest (1965). Being forced to look at this painting nearly every day, at least for a few minutes before a visitor approached me, completely changed the way I viewed Agnes Martin’s work. The Harvest, with its imperfect grid and odd “T” in the corner, became a quirky friend I saw each week–a comforting presence away from papers and tests.
But I’d never spent any long, uninterrupted time with an Agnes Martin. Seeking some quiet time away from my email inbox this past week, I wandered past Milwaukee’s Agnes Martin painting and then stopped and turned around.
It was time for a 45-minute slow look at Untitled #10.
Do you think this rusty iron folding chair deserves a place in a world-class art museum alongside priceless paintings by Mark Rothko and Vassily Kandinsky?
It looks like something you might find in a barn.
Well, in fact, it did come to the Museum from a barn, and we are thrilled to have it.
This metal folding chair is a patented design made sometime in the late 1910s by the C.A. Buffington & Co. manufacturers in Berkshire, New York. Buffington specialized in designing all sorts of equipment for the newfangled automobiles of the “Horseless Age“, including special jacks for changing tires, luggage carriers, and special automobile folding chairs like this one.
So how and why did this chair come to be part of the Museum’s Collection?
The papers are signed and I can say it: The Milwaukee Art Museum welcomed into its permanent collection a Tea Service designed by Margarete Heymann Löbenstein Marks.
After we purchased the work at auction two months ago and the wire transfer payment was complete, several of the Museum’s art preparators traveled to Chicago to pack the ceramic pieces carefully and adeptly deliver them to the Museum’s art vault. I patiently waited a few weeks for the next scheduled meeting of the Museum’s Acquisitions & Collections Committee, when I was able to share the artwork in person.
In the final act of acquiring artwork for the permanent collection, the Museum’s Chief Curator, Director, and the Chair of the A&C Committee signed the paperwork that officially make the object part of the Milwaukee Art Museum.
And now I can say it: Welcome to Milwaukee, Grete Marks!