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Exhibitions

A never-ending flow of art.

We’ve completed the renovations, but we’re hardly done changing things up. The Milwaukee Art Museum has plenty of new special exhibitions lined up, and more are always on the way. Whether you visit us only once over the coming year, or many times, you’re always sure to see something new.

See our calendar for a complete listing of upcoming exhibitions.

The Collaboratory

The Collaboratory

Through March 2017
Richard and Suzanne Pieper Gallery

“Collaboration” and “laboratory” converge in The Collaboratory, an interactive space that explores connections between objects from past centuries and the contemporary world. Central to the experience is the “collector’s cabinet,” a densely installed space featuring everything from armor to astrolabes. Adjacent to the collections are drawers that open to reveal layers of interpretive multimedia—video, music, art—produced by teens working with local artist-educator Ray Chi. The Teen Lab, where such projects take shape through the Museum’s Teen Leadership Program, is open to the public to comment on the collaborations in process. The lab sits just beyond Beth Lipman’s all-glass Laid Table (Still Life with Metal Pitcher) and a room-sized camera obscura, where visitors can step into visual technology from another time.

Anders Zorn: Sweden’s Painter-Etcher

Anders Zorn: Sweden’s Painter-Etcher

April 8 — July 31, 2016

Little known today, Anders Zorn (Swedish, 1860–1920) was one of the most famous artists at the turn of the twentieth century. Based in Paris, he was among a group of artists that sought to raise the status of etching to that of painting. Calling themselves “painters-etchers,” and seeing themselves as part of the tradition of master artists such as Rembrandt, they used etching to explore and show the world in a new way. Zorn was esteemed for his active and bold etching technique and his masterful use of parallel and crosshatched lines to create images. This is the first exhibition in which all eighteen of Zorn’s prints in the Museum’s Collection—ranging in subject from noble portraits to peasant life in Sweden—will be on view.

Penelope Umbrico: Future Perfect

Penelope Umbrico: Future Perfect

May 5, 2016 — August 7, 2016
Herzfeld Center for Photography and Media Arts

Embracing the flood of images available in the Internet age, contemporary artist Penelope Umbrico sifts through millions of images shared on Craigslist, Flickr, and other social media sites and appropriates them as source material for her work. She seizes upon popular subjects such as sunsets and televisions and creates large-scale installations that reveal contemporary society’s collective photographic habits and the underlying desires that shape them. Future Perfect features over 30 photo-based installations—comprising nearly 5,000 individual images—along with photographs, videos, and books that trace Umbrico’s obsessive systems of inquiry and online research since 2006.

Photo Credit: Penelope Umbrico, Broken Sets 2 (eBay), 2015, chromogenic prints. Courtesy the artist and Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New York, NY and Mark Moore Gallery, Culver City, CA.

Presenting Sponsor: Herzfeld Foundation

American Epics: Thomas Hart Benton and Hollywood

American Epics: Thomas Hart Benton and Hollywood

June 10 — September 5, 2016
Baker/Rowland Galleries

This ambitious exhibition of Thomas Hart Benton (1889–1975), the first in more than twenty-five years, reveals the important but overlooked connection between Benton’s experience working for the film industry and his career as an artist. Until now, no exhibition has presented the allure of Benton’s paintings as cinematic in their content and composition, or compared the fascinating technical underpinnings of Benton’s canvases to the cinematic process itself.

Around 1917, Benton worked on silent movie stage sets in Fort Lee, New Jersey—the first “Hollywood.” Between 1937, when Life magazine sent the artist to Hollywood on commission, and 1954, Benton painted five major works for projects related to motion pictures. This exhibition is the first to connect these experiences to the rest of the artist’s career. Benton was acutely aware of contemporary storytelling’s shift toward movies, and he developed a cinematic style of painting that melded art historical traditions with more recent movie-production techniques to tell stories that appealed to a broad swath of Americans.

American Epics: Thomas Hart Benton and Hollywood includes approximately one hundred works by this quintessential American artist: fifty paintings and murals along with a selection of his drawings, prints, and illustrated books. In addition, the exhibition presents rarely seen archival photographs and related ephemera, as well as film clips and stills.

America Seen! Regionalism from the American Art Collection

America Seen! Regionalism from the American Art Collection

May 27 — September 25, 2016
The Godfrey American Art Wing: Level 2, Gallery K230

Presented in conjunction with the American Epics exhibition—and drawn from the Museum’s extensive print collection—America Seen! shows another dimension of Thomas Hart Benton’s career, alongside works by many of his contemporaries.

American Scene painting and Regionalism emerged in the 1920s and 1930s with images of nostalgic, rural subjects that critics positioned as an authentic, reassuring counterpoint to European modernism. Artists such as Thomas Hart Benton, John Steuart Curry, and Grant Wood were nonetheless wrestling with modern issues, and their influences were international in scope. Inspired by Mexican muralists José Clemente Orozco and Diego Rivera, among others, they depicted mass amusements and popular entertainments, economic and social issues, politics and racism, industry and agriculture.

Small Expressions: Handweavers Guild of America

Small Expressions: Handweavers Guild of America

July 23 — August 14, 2016
Schroeder Galleria

This summer, the Museum hosts Small Expressions, the annual juried exhibition of small-scale fiber art sponsored by the Handweavers Guild of America, Inc. Monica Obniski, the Museum’s Demmer Curator of 20th- and 21st-Century Design, is the juror for the exhibition.

Milwaukee welcomes the Handweavers Guild of America, Inc., July 30–August 6, when it holds its biennial conference at the Wisconsin Center.

Corot, Daubigny, Millet: Visions of France

Corot, Daubigny, Millet: Visions of France

August 5 — November 27, 2016
European Art Galleries: Level 2, Gallery S202

During the nineteenth century, French artists such as Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796–1875), Jean-François Millet (1814–1875), and Charles-François Daubigny (1817–1878) captured the spirit of the French countryside in their graphic work. Many experimented with the new technique of cliché-verre(glass negative) to do so, thus combining elements of printmaking and photography. In 1921, the Parisian art dealer and publisher Maurice Le Garrec put together in a publication forty-one of these innovative prints by leading practitioners. This exhibition displays the complete set of these lush, expressive images of nineteenth-century France.

Rineke Dijkstra: Rehearsals

Rineke Dijkstra: Rehearsals

September 10 — January 1, 2017
Herzfeld Center for Photography and Media Arts

Over the past thirty years, Rineke Dijkstra (Dutch, b. 1959) has produced a sensitive and eloquent body of photographic and video work. Her large-scale photographs and video installations reference historical Dutch paintings from the seventeenth century in their formal manner and attention to detail, yet she has reimagined the genre of portraiture for today. She is particularly interested in moments of transition, especially adolescence, a time when individuals build their own identities and begin to present themselves in the way they wish to be perceived.

Dijkstra’s video installations Marianna (The Fairy Doll) and The Gymschool, St. Petersburg were filmed in Russia and examine the intensive rehearsals of young girls. Marianna (The Fairy Doll)presents a touching portrait of a ballerina as she practices for an audition in a prestigious ballet academy. InThe Gymschool, St. Petersburg, Dijkstra examines the incredible flexibility and strict discipline of a group of young rhythmic gymnasts. Both videos, which Dijkstra produced for Manifesta, the European biennial of contemporary art, in 2014, reveal complex layers of determination and fragility as the girls attempt to conceal their emotions and perfect their crafts.

The Lives of Others: Portraits from the Photography Collection

The Lives of Others: Portraits from the Photography Collection

September 10 — January 1, 2017
Herzfeld Center for Photography and Media Arts

From formal studio portraits to pictures caught on the street, the human figure has been a popular subject for photographers throughout the history of the medium. This presentation of works from the Museum’s photography collection explores the interest many photographers have had in understanding how people present themselves to the world. A complement toRineke Dijkstra: Rehearsals, the exhibition includes an important new acquisition, Dijkstra’s Almerisa (begun in 1994), an eleven-part series that follows the transition of a young Bosnian refugee as she adapts to life in the West and grows from a girl to a woman with her own child.