Categories
Art Curatorial

From the Collection–Wassily Kandinsky’s Fragment I for Composition VII

Many of the artists featured in the special exhibition Van Gogh to Pollock: Modern Rebels, Masterworks from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery are also represented in the collection of the Milwaukee Art Museum. This is the second in a series of blog posts that will highlight Milwaukee’s artworks during the run of the exhibition.

Wassily Kandinsky (Russian, 1866–1944), Fragment I for Composition VII (Center), 1913. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley M1958.12. Photo credit: Larry Sanders.
Wassily Kandinsky (Russian, 1866–1944), Fragment I for Composition VII (Center), 1913. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley M1958.12. Photo credit: Larry Sanders.

Only one artwork from the Milwaukee Art Museum’s own collection is displayed as part of the newly-opened Modern Rebels exhibition: Wassily Kandinsky’s Fragment I for Composition VII. When one reads the title of the equally vibrant artwork from the Albright-Knox Gallery hung next to it, the reason for its inclusion becomes instantly clear.

Fragment I for Composition VII, meet Fragment II for Composition VII.

Categories
Art Curatorial

From the Collection–Theseus by Jacques Lipchitz

Jacques Lipchitz (French, b. Lithuania, 1891–1973, active in the United States), Theseus, 1942. Hollow bronze cast. height: 23 3/4 in. (60.33 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. William D. Vogel M1956.80. Photo credit: Larry Sanders. © Estate of Jacques Lipchitz, all rights reserved.
Jacques Lipchitz (French, b. Lithuania, 1891–1973, active in the United States), Theseus, 1942. Hollow bronze cast. height: 23 3/4 in. (60.33 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. William D. Vogel M1956.80. Photo credit: Larry Sanders. © Estate of Jacques Lipchitz, all rights reserved.

Many of the artists featured in the special exhibition Van Gogh to Pollock: Modern Rebels, Masterworks from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery are also represented in the collection of the Milwaukee Art Museum. This is the first in a series of blog posts that will highlight Milwaukee’s artworks during the run of the exhibition.

Knowledge of classical mythology is one of those subjects that will always help the student of art history, no matter what period you study. Over the last few years, I have explored mythological subjects in the Milwaukee Art Museum’s collection represented in ancient Greek hydriae; Baroque decorative arts and painting; and nineteenth century German ceramics.

Modern art is no exception. We have to look no further than the sculptures of Jacques Lipchitz (1891–1973).

Jacques Lipchitz was a Jewish artist from France who was born in Lithuania. He was classically trained in Paris, although he soon worked in a cubist style, such as Sailor with Guitar in the collection of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

Categories
Art Curatorial

Can I walk on it?

Carl Andre (American, b. 1935) 144 Pieces of Zinc, 1967 Zinc plates each plate: 12 x 12 x 3/8 in. (30.48 x 30.48 x 0.95 cm) Purchase, National Endowment for the Arts Matching Funds M1969.22 Photo credit Larry Sanders © Carl Andre/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Carl Andre (American, b. 1935), 144 Pieces of Zinc, 1967. Zinc plates;
each plate: 12 x 12 x 3/8 in. Milwaukee Art Museum, Purchase, National Endowment for the Arts Matching Funds M1969.22.
Photo by Larry Sanders.
© Carl Andre/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Yes!

Carl Andre’s 144 Pieces of Zinc is one of the few artworks in the Museum’s Collection that is meant to be experienced physically, and that visitors may touch.  The artist felt that the qualities inherent in the material were the most important aspect of his work, and that they were meant to be discovered through touch.

Imagine 144 Pieces of Zinc wasn’t in a museum, but, say, come upon in a hardware store surrounded by a bunch of home improvement tiles.   You don’t have to imagine.  The Tate Museum did it.  They installed their collection’s 144 Magnesium Square on the floor in a hardware store in Liverpool, England, and then asked residents of Liverpool what they thought about seeing the minimalist work in a non-art context.

As you see in the video, people have strong feelings about this sort of thing…

Categories
Art

From the Collection–Agnes Martin’s “Untitled #10”

Agnes Martin. Untitled #10, 1977. Gesso, India ink, and graphite on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Friends of Art. Photo credit Dedra Walls. © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Agnes Martin. Untitled #10, 1977. Gesso, India ink, and graphite on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Friends of Art. Photo credit Dedra Walls. © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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.

Categories
Art Library/Archives

Vive “Verve”

VERVE The French Review of Art Volume 2, Number 8 (September-November 1940) Printed in France Gift of Lillian Schultz
Matisse’s cover, VERVE The French Review of Art Volume 2, Number 8 (Sept-Nov 1940). Printed in France. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Lillian Schultz. Photo by Beret Balestrieri Kohn.

Imagine having your favorite artists, authors, philosophers and others ready at your beck and call for any project you desire.

What would you have them do?

Published by E. Tériade, “Verve: The French Review of Art” was a legendary quarterly art journal with that kind of seemingly-limitless access to legendary artists.

From 1937 to 1975, Tériade (real name Stratis Eleftheriades, French 1889–1983) was an art critic, patron, and publisher that commissioned artists and philosophers, including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and André Derain to produce works for his prestigious journal.

This particular issue of “Verve” (Vol. 2, No. 8, Sept—Nov 1940), devoted to the “Nature of France”, features a luxurious dark dust jacket after Matisse’s paper cutouts.