Sunday, December 31, 2006

Visiting the Milwaukee Art Museum

Milwaukee Art Museum Whenever we visit the Milwaukee Art Museum, as we did yesterday, I grab my camera and start shooting their stunning Quadracci Pavilion, the first building in the U.S. designed by Santiago Calatrava. It's one of the most beautiful and by far the most dramatic work in their collection -- just endlessly fascinating from every angle. Kudos are also deserved for the museum's liberal policy on photography, which generally allows visitors to shoot photographs for their own use of the building and most exhibits. It's a great way to take notes for yourself. That includes their marvelous Bradley Collection. The exception, of course, is shows in which loaned art comes with restrictive rights.

An example of the latter was their much lauded Biedermeier show. Here's Roberta Smith in the NYT on this groundbreaking reevaluation of early 19th century Central European design, positioning it as an under-appreciated bridge to modernism nearly a century later. For my part, I just wandered through the show marveling, "I didn't know they did stuff like that back then."

The real revelation for me on this visit was a retrospective of the work of a photographer I had never heard of, Saul Leiter, who must now be considered one of the true pioneers of modern color photography. Milwaukee photographer Tom Bamberger posted a penetrating review at Susceptible to Images.

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