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Art Art News

Wafaa Bilal wants to do what?!

Wafaa Bilal's "Bar at the Folies Bergère (after Manet)" in the Milwaukee Art Museum's Impressionism gallery. Image from the artist's website http://www.wafaabilal.com.

I love that the Milwaukee Art Museum doesn’t shy away from controversial contemporary artists.  You might remember a work in the Museum’s Collection Galleries by Wafaa Bilal and Shawn Lawson that was temporarily installed in the Museum’s Impressionism Gallery in 2007: the Bar at the Folies Bergère (after Manet). Here is the Museum’s 2007 press release “Viewers Enter a Masterpiece in New Installation”. You can see photographs and a video of the Bilal piece on the artist’s website.

In the latest news, Mr. Bilal is now on to a new project that involves having a video camera surgically implanted into the back of his head!  You can read about it in the NYTimes.com ArtsBeat blog here and here in The Art Law Blog post.

Categories
Art Curatorial

From the Collection— Neapolitan Crèche (Nativity Scene)

It’s that time of year again!  The Museum’s Neapolitan crèche is on view in the galleries for the holiday season. You’ll find it in Gallery 4 of the Collection Galleries, with European art.

The origin of the popular Christmas tradition of re-staging the Nativity scene is usually credited to Saint Francis of Assisi in 1223. The custom reached its artistic height in eighteenth-century Naples.  Nobles and aristocrats vied to outdo each other in presenting theatrical crèche (or presepio) displays with elaborate figures clothed in luxurious costumes.  In addition to the Holy Family, the scenes would include angels, putti, shepherds, the Magi, and a host of barnyard animals.  The most elaborate scenes would include daily life in Naples, such as the market, resulting in a lively scene mixing the sacred and the secular that could fill entire rooms. 

Categories
Art

“Well-behaved women seldom make history”

In the spirit of Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s famous quote, I would like to introduce you to one of the most notorious women in the Museum – the Marchesa Luisa Casati.  According to her biographers, the Marchesa is the most depicted woman in art history after Madonna, Eve, and Helen of Troy.  It doesn’t hurt to mention that she commissioned as many artists as she could for a huge gallery of her own portraits in her lavish, international party center of a house.

Categories
Art Education

Docent Diary: The Two Majesties

Jean-Léon Gérôme, The Two Majesties (Les Deux Majestés), 1883. Layton Art Collection, Gift of Louis Allis L1968.82.

From Museum docent Carl Becker: On a recent “Weather and Seasons” tour with fourth graders, we stopped in front of The Two Majesties to discuss the painting and the North African desert location. I asked the children how they would feel in the environment depicted in the painting.