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Art Collection Curatorial European Exhibitions Prints and Drawings

From the Collection: An Illuminated Manuscript

French, Leaf from a Liturgical Psalter, early 14th century. Tempera, ink, and gold leaf on parchment. 6 3/8 × 4 7/16 in. (16.19 × 11.27 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Paula Uihlein M1932.108. Photo credit: John R. Glembin
French, Leaf from a Liturgical Psalter, early 14th century. Tempera, ink, and gold leaf on parchment. 6 3/8 × 4 7/16 in. (16.19 × 11.27 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Paula Uihlein M1932.108. Photo credit: John R. Glembin

Before the invention of the printing press in the fifteenth century, books were handwritten. Imagine… every time a copy of a text needed to be made, someone had to do it painstakingly by hand. In our world of quick reproductions and the ease of hitting “print”, this can be hard to believe!

The exhibition The Art of Devotion: Illuminated Manuscripts from Local Collections, on view at the Milwaukee Art Museum through June 16, 2019, aims to provide an introduction to these handwritten texts–called manuscripts–that were made in the middle ages and early Renaissance. A good number of those manuscripts are also illuminated, or decorated with gold, silver, and bright colors that make them literally look like they shine from within.

Ornamenting the Christian Bible and related texts reflected their holiness, as revealing the teachings of God. Monks and nuns would make the books in a scriptorium—or copying room—as a type of religious devotion. By the fourteenth century, commercial scriptoriums fulfilled the demand for books made by the aristocrats and nobles who commissioned them not only to use in private devotion but also to display their great wealth. As you can imagine, this leads to amazing and beautiful books!

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Art Collection Curatorial European Exhibitions Prints and Drawings

From the Collection: The Annuciation by Hendrick Goltzius

The current exhibition in the European works on paper rotation space (on view until July 30) is Alluring Artifice: Mannerism in the Sixteenth Century. The show features 30 prints that explore Mannerism, a movement that emerged in European art around 1510–20 and lasted until about 1600. Characterized by densely packed compositions and a focus on the human form, the style resulted in images that are deliberately challenging in both design and technique. One of the prints featured in the show is The Annunciation, an engraving by the Dutch master printmaker Hendrick Goltzius (1558–1617).

Hendrick Goltzius (Dutch, 1558–1617), The Annunciation, from the series The Life of the Virgin, 1594. Engraving. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Christopher Graf M1980.233. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.
Hendrick Goltzius (Dutch, 1558–1617), The Annunciation, from the series The Life of the Virgin, 1594. Engraving. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Christopher Graf M1980.233. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.

Over the years, people that I meet have asked me what I am working on, and I usually reply that I was reading a book on art history. At one point I said that to my mathematics teacher from high school. He turned his head quickly and said confidently, “Like about Da Vinci?”

“Yes,” I replied. “More or less.”

“Do you know what drives me nuts about those guys?”

“No, what drives a math teacher nuts about the Renaissance?”

“Why would anyone attempt to make art after the Renaissance?”

What he meant, of course, was that the Renaissance solved many of the technical difficulties of capturing reality in art. The artistic drive to find ways to show human anatomy, depth of space, and emotional expression had resulted in masterful paintings and sculpture.

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Art Collection Curatorial European Exhibitions Prints and Drawings

From the Collection– Preparations for the Wedding Banquet of Cupid and Psyche by Diana Mantuana

The current exhibition in the European works on paper rotation space (on view until July 30) is Alluring Artifice: Mannerism in the Sixteenth Century. The show features 30 prints that explore Mannerism, a movement that emerged in European art around 1510-20 and lasted until about 1600. Characterized by densely packed compositions and a focus on the human form, the style resulted in images that are deliberately challenging in both design and technique. One of the prints featured in the show is Preparations for the Wedding Banquet of Cupid and Psyche, an important recent acquisition by the Italian female engraver Diana Mantuana (ca. 1547–1612), who is sometimes referred to as Diana Scultori. 

Diana Mantuana (Italian, ca. 1547–1612), after Giulio Romano (Italian, probably 1499–1546). Preparations for the Wedding Banquet of Cupid and Psyche, 1575. Engraving. Plate and sheet: 14 13/16 × 44 1/8 in. (37.62 × 112.08 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the DASS Fund M2013.34. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.
Diana Mantuana (Italian, ca. 1547–1612), after Giulio Romano (Italian, probably 1499–1546). Preparations for the Wedding Banquet of Cupid and Psyche, 1575. Engraving. Plate and sheet: 14 13/16 × 44 1/8 in. (37.62 × 112.08 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the DASS Fund M2013.34. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.

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Art Collection Curatorial European Exhibitions

From the Collection: Fighting Fauns by Franz von Stuck

The current exhibition in the European works on paper rotation space (on view until April 2) is Gods and Heroes: Classical Mythology in European Prints. The show features 21 prints that cover the Renaissance through the early twentieth century and are by artists from Germany, Holland, France, Italy, and England. Each print offers insight into why European artists used the narratives of classical mythology. This is the third and final in a series of posts focusing on the exhibition.

Franz von Stuck (German, 1863–1928), Fighting Fauns (Kämpfende Faune), 1889. Etching. Plate: 3 7/8 × 5 5/8 in. (9.84 × 14.29 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Purchase, René von Schleinitz Memorial Fund M1995.294. Photo credit: Larry Sanders.
Franz von Stuck (German, 1863–1928), Fighting Fauns (Kämpfende Faune), 1889. Etching. Plate: 3 7/8 × 5 5/8 in. (9.84 × 14.29 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Purchase, René von Schleinitz Memorial Fund M1995.294. Photo credit: Larry Sanders.

Remember how French Rococo artist Jean Honoré Fragonard showed satyrs as lighthearted, family-orientated creatures?

Well, today we’re going to see how another artist used those creatures to represent something totally different.

Categories
Art Collection Curatorial European Exhibitions Prints and Drawings

From the Collection–The Mocking of Ceres

The current exhibition in the European works on paper rotation space (on view until April 2) is Gods and Heroes: Classical Mythology in European Prints. The show features 21 prints that cover the Renaissance through the early twentieth century and are by artists from Germany, Holland, France, Italy, and England. Each print offers insight into why European artists used the narratives of classical mythology. This is the second in a series of posts focusing on the exhibition.

Hendrik Goudt (Dutch, 1583–1648), after Adam Elsheimer (German, 1578–1610). The Mocking of Ceres, 1610, published 1633. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Friends of Art, from the collection of Philip and Dorothy Pearlstein M2000.136. Photo credit: Larry Sanders.
Hendrik Goudt (Dutch, 1583–1648), after Adam Elsheimer (German, 1578–1610). The Mocking of Ceres, 1610, published 1633. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Friends of Art, from the collection of Philip and Dorothy Pearlstein M2000.136. Photo credit: Larry Sanders.

We’ve already seen how the ancient sculpture of Italy inspired a French Rococo artist in the four prints of the Bacchanals. In this post, we’ll explore another artist’s use of Classical mythology.

The Mocking of Ceres shows Ceres, the goddess of the earth and agriculture, taking a drink. She has been searching the world for her daughter Persephone, who was abducted by Pluto, the ruler of the underworld. Coming upon a small cottage, she asks an old woman for some water. Because Ceres is drinking quickly, a little boy mocks her for her greediness. Angry, Ceres throws her drink at the boy and turns him into a lizard.

This story is just one of the many told by the Roman poet Ovid (43 BC–AD 17) in his work called Metamorphoses. The book-length poem, written in Latin, collected together Greek mythological stories that had some element of transformation as a plot point.

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Art Collection Curatorial European Exhibitions Prints and Drawings

From the Collection— Bacchanals by Jean-Honoré Fragonard

The current exhibition in the European works on paper rotation space (on view until April 2) is Gods and Heroes: Classical Mythology in European Prints. The show features 21 prints that cover the Renaissance through the early twentieth century and are by artists from Germany, Holland, France, Italy, and England. Each print offers insight into why European artists used the narratives of classical mythology. This is the first in a series of posts focusing on the exhibition.

Jean-Honoré Fragonard (French, 1732–1806), Nymph Supported by Two Satyrs, from the series Bacchanals, 1763. Etching. Plate and sheet: 5 7/16 × 8 1/8 in. (13.81 × 20.64 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the DASS Fund M2010.65.1. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.
Jean-Honoré Fragonard (French, 1732–1806), Nymph Supported by Two Satyrs, from the series Bacchanals, 1763. Etching. Plate and sheet: 5 7/16 × 8 1/8 in. (13.81 × 20.64 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the DASS Fund M2010.65.1. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.

For most visitors to the Milwaukee Art Museum, the French artist Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732–1806) is known as a painter. He painted The Shepherdess (pictured below), which is the focal point of our Rococo gallery.

And it is the centerpiece of this gallery for good reason! It is a perfect example of the elegant and amorous style so popular in eighteenth century France.

A beautiful young lady, dressed in a fashionable and revealing costume (we can see her ankles!), sits in the countryside awaiting her lover, who enters the scene over the distant hill. The composition is full of delicate curlicues and pastel colors, creating a frothy vision of the pastoral ideal.

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Art Behind the Scenes Curatorial Exhibitions

Herzfeld Photography, Print, and Drawing Study Center

Herzfeld Photography, Print, and Drawing Study Center. Photo credit: John Glembin.
Herzfeld Photography, Print, and Drawing Study Center. Photo credit: John Glembin.

Did you know that nearly half of the Milwaukee Art Museum’s collection consists of works on paper? We have more than 15,000 rare prints, drawings, photographs, and book arts.

Works on paper cannot be shown indefinitely, because they are light-sensitive; light will cause them to fade.  Accordingly, in order to preserve them in the best condition possible, they are rotated.  A rotation is when one work is taken off view and replaced with another, usually every three to four months.

The Museum has a number of new spaces dedicated to works on paper.  The focus of these areas range from European prints and drawings (Gallery S202), to modern art from the Bradley Collection (Gallery K215), to Folk and Self-Taught art (Gallery K122). When not on view, those works on paper are stored safely in the dark.

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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 Art News Collection Contemporary Curatorial Prints and Drawings

From the Collection–Fab 5 Freddy (Told Me Everybody’s Fly)

Fab 5 Freddy (American, b. 1959), Untitled, 1986. Ink and oil pastel on paper. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Susan L. Strande, M1992.57.

A new exhibition Art in the Streets is on view April 17 to August 8, 2011 at the Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles). The exhibition is the first major U.S. museum survey of graffiti and street art and it features an artist in the Milwaukee Art Museum’s permanent collection: Fred “Fab 5 Freddy” Braithwaite.

Early on the hip hop scene in Brooklyn, graffiti artist, close friend of Jean-Michel Basquiat, fan of Andy Warhol, and host of “Yo! MTV Raps”, Fab 5 Freddy is a pioneer of the street art genre.