Kandinsky: A Retrospective Closes Sept 1; Museum Open on Labor Day

Posted on August 8th, 2014

Original exhibition highlights significant works by Kandinsky
Celebrated retrospective closes September 1

Milwaukee, Wis. – Renowned as a painter, printmaker, watercolorist, theoretician, and Bauhaus teacher, Wassily Kandinsky’s prodigious accomplishments span almost all the major artistic movements of the first half of the twentieth century, a time of experimentation and innovation in art, conducted against the upheavals of a society entering the modern world. This extraordinary exhibition, Kandinsky: A Retrospective, closes on September 1.

The Museum will be open on Monday, September 1 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Kandinsky: A Retrospective is conceived by the Centre Pompidou, Paris, one of the major repositories of Kandinsky’s works, and organized together with the Milwaukee Art Museum. It is co-curated by Angela Lampe, the Curator of Modern Art at the Centre Pompidou, and Brady Roberts, Chief Curator at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

The exhibition follows the artist through several decades to reveal in five chapters every one of Kandinsky’s creative periods, moving from his native Russia to turn-of-the-century Munich and Murnau, Germany, awash with bold ideas. From there the exhibition returns to revolutionary Russia, before exploring the heady intellectual world of the German Bauhaus, and finally, the dynamic art world of Paris before and during World War II.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is the reconstruction of an extraordinary lounge Kandinsky created for the 1922 Juryfreie exhibition in Berlin. Made of large scale mural panels, the lounge was meant as a total environment to immerse the viewer in a complete aesthetic experience. It thus predates and anticipates the development of artistic installations and environments later in the century. These murals, reconstructed in 1977 under the supervision of his widow Nina Kandinsky for the opening of the Centre Pompidou, are presented in the United States for the first time at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

From Art Nouveau’s sinuous, organic forms, to Fauvism and Blaue Reiter’s shocking colors, to Kandinsky’s signature, deeply spiritual abstraction, to the mysteries of Surrealism to the constructivism of the Bauhaus period and the biomorphic forms of the thirties — Kandinsky experienced it all and led the way to the invention of radical new forms of modern art.

The exhibition features over eighty works and documents drawn from the world famous Kandinsky collection of the Centre Pompidou which has one outstanding particularity: nearly all of these works belonged to the artist himself and have been given by his widow Nina Kandinsky to the French State. It allows the visitor the unique opportunity to discover an exhibition made with Kandinsky’s favorite works, those he kept with him all his life.

The selection is enriched by the exceptional German Expressionist holdings at the Milwaukee Art Museum. A number of paintings from the Bradley Collection will add a complementary art historical dimension to the narrative. The works of Kandinsky’s Munich peers from Milwaukee’s collections will provide rich artistic visual dialogues for visitors. Dazzling works by Alex Jawlensky, August Macke, and Marianne Werefkin, in addition to the Museum’s world-renowned holdings by Kandinsky’s lover and colleague, Gabriele Münter, will gain a new depth from their proximity to her one-time teacher. Two major loans from the Guggenheim Museum and the Walker Art Center will complete this stunning journey through Kandinsky’s career.

“The Milwaukee Art Museum is proud to be the premier venue for Kandinsky: A Retrospective. This exhibition celebrates one of the key figures in Modern art by showcasing two extraordinary institutions: the exhaustive collections of works by the artist in the Centre Pompidou; and the superb work of the related Blaue Reiter artists in the Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley Collection at the Milwaukee Art Museum,” said Daniel Keegan, director of the Milwaukee Art Museum. “This international collaboration tells the story of some of the most dynamic and influential modern art created in the first half of the twentieth century.”

A major catalogue distributed by Yale University Press  accompanies the exhibition, offering new insights on Kandinsky’s Bauhaus murals.

Kandinsky: A Retrospective will be on view at the Milwaukee Art Museum from June 5 through September 1, 2014 and is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities, with additional support provided by Associated Bank, Christie’s, and the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Friends of Art. After its presentation in Milwaukee, the exhibition will travel to the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, Tennessee.

The Museum is open Tuesday–Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Thursdays until 8 p.m. Admission is $17 for adults; $14 for students, seniors, and active military; and free for Members and for children age 12 and under. The Museum is open Mondays from Memorial Day through Labor Day, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The first Thursday of each month is Target Free First Thursday and admission is free for individuals (does not apply to groups).

The Milwaukee Art Museum houses a rich collection of over 30,000 works, with strengths in 19th- and 20th-century American and European art, contemporary art, American decorative arts, and is the world’s leading repository for work by untrained creators. The Museum campus is located on the shores of Lake Michigan and spans three buildings, including the Santiago Calatrava-designed Quadracci Pavilion and the Eero Saarinen-designed Milwaukee County War Memorial Center. For more information, please visit mam.org.

In its thirty five-year existence, the Centre Pompidou has established itself as one of the world’s foremost institutions in the field of modern and contemporary art. With over 100,000 works its collection of 20th and 21st century art ranks among the finest in the world. The Centre Pompidou is also home to Europe’s largest public reading library, and produces around 25 temporary exhibitions each year, together with an acclaimed programming of performances, film, lectures and talks. The Centre Pompidou is the third most visited site in France after the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, and has welcomed over 200 million visitors since its opening in 1977, including 6 million people in 2013. The Centre Pompidou stands in the historic center of Paris in one of the most spectacular buildings of 20th-century architecture. Designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers – both Pritzker Prize laureates– this bold structure, instantly familiar with its characteristic multicoloured pipes, now stands as an icon of modern architecture and a feat of engineering.