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Art Collection Curatorial European Prints and Drawings

From the Collection—Albrecht Dürer, Part 2

The inaugural exhibition in the European works on paper rotation space (on view until March 20) explores the Renaissance in Germany. Comprised completely of prints from the collection of the Milwaukee Art Museum, you can find engravings by Heinrich Aldegrever (1502–ca. 1561) and stipple engravings by Hans Sebald Beham (1500–1550). But you can’t study printmaking in the German Renaissance without a serious consideration of Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528). And we’re lucky enough to have 14 prints by the master! This is the second of a series of posts related to Dürer’s prints.

Albrecht Dürer (German, 1471–1528), Madonna with the Monkey, ca. 1498. Engraving. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gertrude Nunnemacher Schuchardt Collection, presented by William H. Schuchardt M1924.169. Photo credit: P. Richard Eells.
Albrecht Dürer (German, 1471–1528), Madonna with the Monkey, ca. 1498. Engraving. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gertrude Nunnemacher Schuchardt Collection, presented by William H. Schuchardt M1924.169. Photo credit: P. Richard Eells.

Last time, we learned a little about Albrecht Dürer by looking at a woodcut from his series called The Apocalypse. In this post, we’ll look at a different type of print—an engraving—with religious subject matter.

Madonna with the Monkey is one of several Madonna and child compositions that Dürer produced throughout his career. His Catholic German patrons would be interested in the powerful woman that had become so central to the salvation of man by being the mother of Christ. This type of print would be popular and consequently sell well. In the current display at the Milwaukee Art Museum, there are two other depictions of the Madonna and child (Madonna and the Infant in Swaddling and the Madonna with the Pear) and two prints from the series The Life of the Virgin (The Death of Mary and The Circumcision of Jesus).

In Madonna with the Monkey, Dürer shows a young, loving mother holding her chubby baby. This display of emotion, combined with the well-modeled physicality of the figures, is a contrast to previous depictions of the Madonna and Child found in central Europe (compare this sculptural example at the Metropolitan Museum of Art). This is likely a result of Dürer’s first visit to Italy, from 1491 to 1495. While there, he studied artwork of the Italian Renaissance and the classical past. He brought back sketches and ideas which moved German art away from the frontal, stylized representations of the middle ages.

Categories
Art Collection Curatorial European Prints and Drawings

From the Collection—Albrecht Dürer, Part 1

The inaugural exhibition in the European works on paper rotation space (on view until March 20) explores the Renaissance in Germany. Comprised completely of prints from the collection of the Milwaukee Art Museum, you can find engravings by Heinrich Aldegrever (1502–ca. 1561) and stipple engravings by Hans Sebald Beham (1500–1550). But you can’t study printmaking in the German Renaissance without a serious consideration of Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528). And we’re lucky enough to have 14 prints by the master! This is the first of a series of posts related to Dürer’s prints.

Albrecht Dürer (German, 1471–1528), St. John's Vision of Christ and the Seven Candlesticks, from the series The Apocalypse, 1498; published 1511. Woodcut. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Albert O. Trostel M1972.41. Photo credit: P. Richard Eells.
Albrecht Dürer (German, 1471–1528), St. John’s Vision of Christ and the Seven Candlesticks, from the series The Apocalypse, 1498; published 1511. Woodcut. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Albert O. Trostel M1972.41. Photo credit: P. Richard Eells.

Albrecht Dürer is often considered the father of the northern Renaissance. He traveled to Italy twice, bringing the Italian Renaissance’s interests in art and culture back to Germany. Not only was he a well-respected visual artist, but he was also a widely published author on humanistic thought and scientific topics.  Also, he was engaged in debate on religious issues. Serving as the first court artist to Holy Roman Emperors Maximilian I and his successor Charles V, Dürer had access to some of the highest social circles of Europe.  Accordingly, he embraced the Renaissance idea of the artist as a creative genius whose gifts were bestowed by God rather than as a hard-working craftsman.

One way that Dürer influenced the artistic trajectory of the northern Renaissance is through his masterful approach to printmaking. His exploration of the unique way that prints can show light and dark, as well as how they can tell a powerful story, made printmaking an artwork in its own right rather than just a way to illustrate printed books. Today we begin a series that explores Dürer’s role in the history of printmaking by looking closely at some of his prints on view at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

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Art Exhibitions

Happy Birthday, Andy Warhol!

Andy Warhol's 100 Cans in the exhibition Van Gogh to Pollock: Modern Rebels, Masterworks from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Photo by the author.
Andy Warhol’s 100 Cans in the exhibition Van Gogh to Pollock: Modern Rebels, Masterworks from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Photo by the author.

Today we celebrate the birthday of famous American pop artist Andy Warhol. The Milwaukee Art Museum’s permanent collection boasts a number of works by Warhol, but one of his most iconic pieces is featured in the Museum’s current temporary exhibition, Van Gogh to Pollock: Modern Rebels. The piece, titled 100 Cans, was completed in 1962.

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Art Collection Curatorial European Exhibitions

From the Collection–Antonio Balestra’s The Meeting of Telemachus and Calypso

A number of artists featured in the special exhibition Of Heaven and Earth: 500 Years of Italian Painting from Glasgow Museums are represented in the collection of the Milwaukee Art Museum.  This is the first in a series of blog posts that will highlight Milwaukee’s paintings during the run of the exhibition.

Antonio Balestra (Italian, 1666–1740), The Meeting of Telemachus and Calypso, ca. 1700. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Bequest of Eliza Eliot Fitch M1955.3. Photo credit: Larry Sanders.
Antonio Balestra (Italian, 1666–1740), The Meeting of Telemachus and Calypso, ca. 1700. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, bequest of Eliza Eliot Fitch M1955.3. Photo credit: Larry Sanders.

Active in the very end of the 17th century and the first part of the 18th century, Antonio Balestra was an Italian painter of the “late Baroque.”

What does that mean?  Well, it means that he worked during a time of transition between the theatrical narratives and dramatic light and shadow of the high Baroque (think Caravaggio) and the bright, elegant style called Rococo (think Tiepolo).

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Art Behind the Scenes Collection Curatorial Prints and Drawings

From the Collection–Winter in Color

View of "Winter in Color" Mezzanine Installation. Photo by Chelsea Kelly
View of “Winter in Color” Mezzanine Installation. Photo by Chelsea Kelly
Tired of winter yet? Wait, it’s February in Wisconsin–that’s probably a silly question. Even if you’ve had enough, the Milwaukee Art Museum’s current display of works on paper from the Collection, Winter in Color, might make you take another look at the season.

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Art Behind the Scenes Curatorial

Behind the Scenes: Analysis of a Face Jug

Mark Newell and Claudia Mooney collecting empirical data on the face jugs. Photo courtesy of Mark Newell.
Mark Newell and Claudia Mooney collecting empirical data on the face jugs. Photo courtesy of Mark Newell.

The exhibition Face Jugs: Art and Ritual in 19th Century South Carolina, on view this past summer at the Milwaukee Art Museum (and currently on tour through South Carolina, Alabama and Georgia), provided us at Chipstone with a rare hands-on research opportunity.

As you may have read in one of my previous blog posts on Face Jugs, the objects in the exhibition were made by slaves, and later free African Americans, in the Edgefield County of South Carolina from about 1860 to about 1880. Previous scholars posited arguments that connected the face jugs back to Africa, but there was still research to be done in terms of the face jugs’ origin and function.

In addition to conducting our own research, we teamed up with anthropologists, archeologists and historians in order to gain a fuller understanding of the face jugs’ story–and got up close and personal with the objects in the process.

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Art Behind the Scenes Curatorial Exhibitions

Making an Exhibition, Part 3: Approvals and Loans and Email and Paperwork

"Grete Marks" exhibition committee proposal, front page.
“Grete Marks” exhibition committee formal proposal, front page.

In the first two posts of this series, I’ve addressed the origins of the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Grete Marks: When Modern Was Degenerate exhibition (on view September 6, 2012 – January 1, 2013).  The exhibition went from my admiration of a certain artwork I didn’t know well, to years of background research to learn the context and nuance of the artist’s story.

In those steps, I looked at artwork, read about Bauhausian ideas, and traveled to Berlin and London to meet with curators and examine stunning teapots. For the next part of the task of making the exhibition, I mostly sat at a computer in Milwaukee generating forms and writing emails.

An exhibition goes from a curator’s idea to a museum reality through a series of approvals up the chain-of-command. To bring my personal research on Grete Marks into a real Museum exhibition, I first spoke with my curatorial colleagues and the Museum’s Chief Curator about the idea.

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Art Behind the Scenes Curatorial

Making an Exhibition, Part 1: The Artwork’s Story

Margarete Heymann-Loebenstein Marks, ca. 1925. Photo courtesy Bauhaus Archiv, Berlin.
Margarete Heymann-Loebenstein Marks, ca. 1925. Photo courtesy Bauhaus Archiv, Berlin.

Ever wonder about the details of developing an art museum exhibition? I have to admit, an advanced degree in art history does not directly prepare a curator for the loan agreements, budget constrictions, press relationships, and conservation concerns that must be negotiated and balanced along with telling a great story.

In order to break down and share what I think is a pretty fascinating process, I’ve put together a six-part blog post series that addresses the steps I took in developing the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Grete Marks: When Modern Was Degenerate exhibition (on view September 6, 2012 – January 1, 2013).

Every exhibition should start with and keep at its core great artwork and a meaningful story.  For me, this exhibition germinated when I encountered a Bauhaus-trained ceramist named Grete Marks in 2007.

I’d never heard her name. I wasn’t a Bauhaus expert.

But I felt something for her teapots.

Categories
Art Curatorial Exhibitions

Looking at “Posters of Paris” Through the Lens of Graphic Design

Jules Chéret, (French, 1836–1932), L'Horloge: Les Girard, 1875/1878 or 1880/1881. Color lithograph. Collection of Jim and Sue Wiechmann. Photo by John R. Glembin.
Jules Chéret, (French, 1836–1932), L’Horloge: Les Girard, 1875/1878 or 1880/1881. Color lithograph. Collection of Jim and Sue Wiechmann. Photo by John R. Glembin.

Even though the exhibition Posters of Paris: Toulouse-Lautrec & His Contemporaries may be billed as a fine art retrospective, it also serves as the largest and most extensive graphic design exhibition Milwaukee has ever seen. Featuring posters from the turn of the 20th century, Posters of Paris hearkens back to the roots of the profession. The artworks are situated at a time before “graphic design” was a legitimate term, but well after the world started recognizing the power of arresting visual communication.

And the line-up curator Mary Weaver Chapin has pulled together is impressive. The exhibition includes works by who I’d call the godheads of posters–Jules Chéret and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec to Leonetto Cappiello and Alphonse Mucha. For a casual observer, or a trained graphic designer, there’s no shortage of exuberant eye candy to indulge in.

Posters of Paris will likely leave you drooling for days.

Categories
Art Curatorial Exhibitions

Face Jugs—Art and Ritual

Face Jug, 1860-1880 Chipstone Foundation Photo by Jim Wildeman
Face Jug, 1860-1880. Chipstone Foundation. Photo by Jim Wildeman.

Last month I wrote about the Chipstone Foundation’s new acquisition, an early Edgefield face jug with writing on the back. Since then, our curatorial team has uncovered the meaning behind the elusive inscription. Before revealing this discovery, I’ll catch you up on new research for Face Jugs: Art and Ritual in 19th-Century South Carolina, on view until August 5 at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

“Face jugs” is a term created by art historians, historians and archeologists to refer to turned stoneware vessels with applied faces. The eyes and the teeth are made of kaolin, a white river clay that is one of the primary components of porcelain. You will notice when you visit the exhibition that there are also face cups and face pitchers.

Many different cultures have created pottery with faces or human elements, but the Edgefield face jugs are unique.

For starters, we know very little about them.