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Art Collection Curatorial European Exhibitions

From the Collection–Girl in Straw Hat (Femme au Chapeau Rouge) by Pierre Bonnard

Pierre Bonnard (French, 1867–1947), Girl in Straw Hat (Femme au Chapeau Rouge), 1903. Oil on canvas; 15 1/8 x 17 5/8 in. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley M1958.13. Photo credit P. Richard Eells. ©2010 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.
Pierre Bonnard (French, 1867–1947), Girl in Straw Hat (Femme au Chapeau Rouge), 1903. Oil on canvas; 15 1/8 x 17 5/8 in. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley M1958.13. Photo credit P. Richard Eells. ©2010 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

The Museum’s current exhibition Posters of Paris: Toulouse-Lautrec and his Contemporaries features a number of posters by Pierre Bonnard (French, 1867-1947)—including the fantastic France-Champagne lithograph, a work that inspired the master Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec to make ground-breaking posters.

Did you know that the Museum’s Permanent Collection has two paintings by Bonnard?

The paintings are gorgeous, and can be found on the upper level in the Bradley Collection Galleries.

One of the two paintings, Girl in Straw Hat (Femme au Chapeau Rouge), has long been one of my personal favorite artworks.  I suspect that Girl in Straw Hat was also one of Mrs. Bradley’s favorites, and there is good reason why.

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 Collection Curatorial Prints and Drawings

A one-hour exhibition: “Winter Scenes Across the Ages”

East Side Street in Winter Richard H. Jansen  n.d. Gouache sheet: 17 1/4 x 23 3/4 in. (43.82 x 60.33 cm)  Layton Art Collection, Gift of Layton Art League
Richard H. Jansen (American, 1910–1988), East Side Street in Winter, n.d. Gouache sheet: 17 1/4 x 23 3/4 in. Milwaukee Art Museum, Layton Art Collection, Gift of Layton Art League, L1948.2.

Last week I had the opportunity to drop in on a new event at the Museum. It was a one-hour exhibition featuring “Winter Scenes Across the Ages” from the prints and drawings collection. It was a perfect winter day, all blizzardy as I walked to my internship at the Museum. A better setting could not have been wished for to coincide with the winter theme of the pop-up exhibition.

I had encountered this event through the Museum’s Web site, on the Calendar + Events page. I try to check it regularly as not to miss out on the numerous special programs that are available. I was thrilled at the  opportunity to encounter art that is so rarely seen by the public (how exciting!) And, as someone interested in the inner workings of museums, I thought it was simply a brilliant idea! Museums try to find new ways to engage the public and share their collections, and to me this seemed like a lively way to see prints and drawings based on a timely issue. In this case: Winter!

Categories
Art Curatorial

From the Collection–George Washington (ish)

English (Staffordshire), Figure of Benjamin Franklin, 1780-1800. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Floyd A. Segel, M1984.111.

President Barack Obama has one of the world’s most famous faces. It would be hard to imagine a newspaper or a t-shirt maker or a sculptor getting away with substituting a similar grin and telling us it was our President. I suspect we’d know the difference.

But if this were the 18th century, we may be none the wiser.

Categories
Art Curatorial

From the Collection—Caspar David Friedrich

Although the Milwaukee Art Museum has a fantastic collection of German art, one of the things I wish we had is a painting by Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840).

Friedrich is one of the most important German artists from the Romantic period of the early 19th century, and his paintings are showstoppers. A deeply religious man from the Protestant North, Friedrich believed that both landscape and human creativity revealed God’s truth and beauty.

Combine this sentiment with artistic talent, and you have powerful and fascinating paintings rich in symbols and atmospheric effects. Here you can see some examples of Friedrich’s paintings at a Boston College website.

But, as I said, for the time being the Museum’s permanent collection doesn’t include a painting by Friedrich. There is no need to entirely despair, however, because we do have two works on paper by Friedrich. One of them, The Woman with the Raven at the Abyss, is on view right now in the exhibition Framing a Decade (on view in the Koss Gallery through April 3, 2011). This work alone is worth a visit to the show, but there are so many wonderful things included in the exhibition (and all of them in our Collection!) that you will walk away amazed. Although he had a lengthy career, Friedrich’s printmaking output was limited to eighteen etchings and four woodcuts. The designs for the woodcuts were cut into the blocks by Friedrich’s younger brother, Christian Friedrich, who was a cabinet-maker.

Categories
Art Exhibitions

From the Collection: Claude Mellan’s “The Sudarium”

Claude Mellan, The Sudarium, 1649, printed ca. 1720 (detail). Engraving. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the Hockerman Charitable Trust. Photo by John R. Glembin
Claude Mellan, The Sudarium, 1649, printed ca. 1720. Engraving. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the Hockerman Charitable Trust. Photo by John R. Glembin

So your family members (or out-of-town friends, or in-laws, take your pick!) are in town for the holidays, presents have been opened, feasts eaten, and now you need to entertain them. Naturally, you bring them to the Museum, knowing that you’ll be able to impress them with the architecture, a work of art in and of itself. But you want to impress them in the galleries, too; you want to show them something so incredible that it’ll even stun the know-it-all of the group.