The Museum is now open. Your health and safety remains our top priority. Learn more.

Museum Director Marcelle Giving a Press Preview

Milwaukee Art Museum Presents The Eight and American Modernisms

Posted on June 1st, 2009

Milwaukee, WI, March 6—From three outstanding public collections of their work, more than eighty paintings by the group of American artists dubbed The Eight—Arthur B. Davies, William Glackens, Robert Henri, Ernest Lawson, George Luks, Maurice B. Prendergast, Everett Shinn, and John Sloan—are joined together for the first time in The Eight and American Modernisms, on view at the Milwaukee Art Museum June 6–August 23, 2009.

The Eight and American Modernisms examines the distinct aesthetic agendas of The Eight artists from 1908 to the end of their careers. The conventional assessment of The Eight’s artistic partnership has focused primarily on themes of urban “realism”—to the exclusion of exploring their artistic individuality. Past scholarship has not considered the legacy of the group’s creative diversity, which Henri praised as an imaginative freedom that follows “no unity in any cult of painting.” The Eight and American Modernisms shows that Robert Henri (1865-1929) and his colleagues were “anti-realist” or expressionist, painting from memory and imagination.

This exhibition is organized by the Milwaukee Art Museum, the New Britain Museum of American Art, and the Terra Foundation for American Art. The exhibition is curated by Elizabeth Kennedy, curator of collection at the Terra Foundation for American Art; co-curated by Douglas Hyland, director of the New Britain Museum of American Art, and Joseph D. Ketner II, former chief curator of the Milwaukee Art Museum; and coordinated at the Milwaukee Art Museum by Liz Flaig, curatorial department administrator.

Terra Foundation for American Art is the lead sponsor.
The Caxambas Foundation is the Milwaukee Art Museum’s presenting lead sponsor.

The Eight and American Modernisms features essays on each of the eight artists in addition to several color illustrations being published for the first time. It includes a checklist, a chronology of major exhibitions and awards of The Eight, and a chapter disputing the conventional wisdom that these artists’ reputations were short-lived. Hardcover, 177 pages.  Available at the Milwaukee Art Museum Store ($29.95/$26.95 Member): 414-224-3210 or www.mam.org/store.

Wednesday, June 3, noon–2 p.m.
Join exhibition curators for an exclusive tour of the exhibition, followed by refreshments and opportunities for Q&A.

What’s Modern about American Art, 1900-1930?
June 19-20, 2009
Chicago and Milwaukee
This two-day symposium convened by the Terra Foundation will address the questions of American modernism through a series of brief “keyword” talks and panel discussions. Michael Kammen, Newton C. Farr Professor Emeritus of American History and Culture at Cornell University, delivers the keynote lecture on Friday in Chicago, while exhibition curator Elizabeth Kennedy of the Terra Foundation joins others in Milwaukee for a second full program on Saturday.  For a complete list of participants, more information, or to register, call 312-654-2278 or visit http://terraamericanart.org/modernism-symposium.

The Milwaukee Art Museum’s far-reaching holdings include more than 20,000 works spanning antiquity to the present day. With a history dating back to 1888, the Museum houses a Collection with strengths in 19th- and 20th-century American and European art, contemporary art, American decorative arts, and folk and self-taught art. The Museum includes the Santiago Calatrava–designed Quadracci Pavilion, named by Time magazine “Best Design of 2001.”