MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Art Museum is
showing four new exhibitions in the coming weeks, from New
York City street life to a contemporary site-specific
installation to paintings from the Layton Art Collection.
“Currents 37: Lawrence Weiner: Inherent Innate
Tension,” through April 2, marks the first time in the
museum’s history that the walls of Windhover Hall are being
used to present a work of art. Weiner, one of the central
figures in conceptual art, visited Milwaukee in 2013 to
familiarize himself with the museum and to choose a site for
his work. He focused on the Santiago Calatrava-designed
Windhover Hall and designed two installations for the
Weiner’s work reached public awareness in the
1960s and ’70s, when art was taking on new forms. Weiner’s
book “Statements,” from 1968, is one of the key treatises of
contemporary art. In it he describes the materials,
processes and composition of sculpture in such a way that
the text represents or becomes the sculpture itself.
Initiated in 1982, the “Currents” exhibition
series brings significant work by living artists into the
Museum. The exhibition is sponsored by the Museum’s
Contemporary Art Society and William R. and Sandra G. Haack.
“Helen Levitt: In the Street” and “James Nares: In the
City,” on exhibit through April 16, explore New York City
street life through multiple media and eras. On view in the
museum’s Herzfeld Center for Photography and Media Arts, the
related exhibitions explore and draw comparisons across time
between lens-based media.
Levitt’s “New York,” c. 1940, is a gelatin
silver print that’s 6 3/4 inches by 10 1/16
of Telfair Museums, Film Documents LLC
Brooklyn-born photographer Levitt
recorded the life of New York’s sidewalks for more than
five decades. She began photographing with a 35mm Leica
camera in the mid-1930s. Roaming through working-class
neighborhoods, Levitt became known for photographing
children at play, who were mostly indifferent to her
presence. Levitt’s photographs observe people of every
age, race and class.
“In the Street” features more than 40 works,
including early black-and-white prints, later color work,
and a short film, also titled “In the Street” (1948). Unique
to the Milwaukee Art Museum’s presentation is a slide show
of Levitt’s color photographs and a selection of works from
the museum’s collection.
At the same time, the Herzfeld Center’s video
spaces host “James Nares: In the City.” A contemporary
artist born in England, Nares also draws inspiration from
the streets of New York City. The two works on display,
“Pendulum” (1976) and “Street” (2011), reveal the artist’s
preoccupation with movement, rhythm and repetition.
“Pendulum,” originally filmed with a Super 8 camera, follows
the arc of a concrete sphere as it swings through the
deserted streets of TriBeCa. Thirty years later, Nares
captures vibrant city life in “Street,” a high-definition
video that plays in continuous slow motion, allowing the
viewer to examine Nares’ subject caught, like Levitt’s,
above is a James Nares still from “Street,”
2011. The HD color video with sound runs 61
minutes. It is in the Milwaukee Art Museum’s
Herzfeld Center for Photography and Media Arts.
of the artist and Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York.
Exhibitions and programming in the
Herzfeld Center are supported by the Herzfeld
Foundation. Additionally, “Helen Levitt: In the Street”
is supported by Mrs. Robert O. Levitt, presenting
sponsor, and organized by Telfair Museums, Savannah, Ga.
Additional support is provided by the David C. &
Sarajean Ruttenberg Arts Foundation.
Johnson and a Nation Divided,” on view Feb. 10 through May
21, the exhibit highlights the Layton Art Collection, one of
Milwaukee’s seminal collections of American and European art
formed by Frederick Layton in the late 19th century. The
yearly exhibition will explore a significant work from the
Layton Art Collection, providing new insights and
“Eastman Johnson and a Nation Divided” features
Johnson’s 1859 oil on linen “Negro Life at the
South” (37 inches by 46 inches).
Historical Society, The Robert L. Stuart
The first exhibition in the series
focuses on Johnson. When his painting “Negro Life at the
South” debuted at New York’s National Academy of Design
in 1859, critics hailed it as a masterpiece. It quickly
became a touchstone for both abolitionists and
proponents of slavery alike for its indictment of urban
servitude on the one hand and its seemingly idyllic view
of Southern rural culture on the other. After the Civil
War, Johnson returned with a vengeance in 1871 with “The
Old Stagecoach,” a painting that critics hailed as the
painter’s “latest and greatest” and that attracted
“crowds of devotees” at the National Academy that same
year. “The Old Stagecoach” garnered unanimous praise for
its nostalgic look yet also contains subtle hints at
post–Civil War anxieties.
The exhibition is sponsored by the Layton Art