Valerie J. Christell
Making connections with art

The Haggerty acquisitions

By - Feb 23rd, 2011 04:00 am
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What’s in a donation? When it comes to the recent windfall gift of 135 artworks from three sources to the Haggerty Museum of Art, Museum Director Wally Mason says it’s an opportunity to make connections with the past while expanding horizons within a focused vision.

With the Modern Art direction of the works on view at the Haggerty, one might ask if there’s room enough in this town for two such venues, considering the Milwaukee Art Museum’s long-standing mission. In Mason’s mind, there is no overlap. He has carefully taken this point into consideration in clarifying the Haggerty’s niche with a focus on works on paper, specifically prints and photography. This supports the goal to provide a unique opportunity for engagement in learning about these art forms, as they can be analyzed from viewpoints fundamental to diverse branches of education for Marquette faculty and students as well as the general public.

The Haggerty’s collection forms an especially suitable base for the receipt of the pieces within these three donations, which range from Andy Warhol’s Mao and Robert Rauschenberg’s Hot Shot, to Frank Paulin’s Grant’s Bar, New York. These donations add to works by the same artists already in the Haggerty, introduce new artists’ works, and follow Mason’s specific mission to develop the photography collection.

Andy Warhol “Mao” (1972).Collection of the Haggerty Museum of Art Museum purchase, partial gift of Mary and Michael J. Tatalovich.

From the Tatalovich collection is Andy Warhol’s 1972 color screen print of Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong. This Pop Art statement, resplendent in red, is rife with commentary on propaganda imagery as well as metaphors for Communism and bloody rule. It also references political uprising relative to contemporary events —  the fall of Hussein in Iraq, and Mubarak in Egypt. The print joins other Haggerty Warhols to present an opportunity for enhanced insight into the artist’s intent when viewed in mass.

Robert Rauschenberg “Hot Shot” (1983) Collection of the Haggerty Museum of Art. Museum purchase with the Avis and James K. Heller Art Acquisition Endowment, partial gift of Mary and Michael J. Tatalovich

Rauschenberg’s Color Lithograph, Hot Shot, also from the Tatalovich’s collection, augments the museum’s collection of prints from the Stoned Moon series. Born out of Rauschenberg’s invitation by NASA, this print, with others in the series, reflects his witness of the Apollo 11 lift-off. The layered image pieces combine to express humankind’s technological achievements, rough and piecemeal as they may have been. It remains uniquely relevant today not only for its capture of a significant moment in time, but in light of the dramatic changes made in NASA’s space program by the time this print was created in 1983, and since.

Frank Paulin “Grant’s Bar, New York” (1956).Collection of the Haggerty Museum of Art. Gift of Bruce and Silke Silverstein.

The donation of 30 photographs from the Bruce Silverstein Gallery/New York includes Frank Paulin’s 1956 photograph, Grant’s Bar, New York. The addition of this collection clearly is in line with Mason’s goal for expanding the Haggerty’s photography collection. And, serendipitously, the artist’s statement can be seen to exemplify Mason’s philosophy of fusing contemporary life and the past, in its ability to present American life in the 50’s in such a way that also effectively reflects today’s issues. Paulin’s viewpoint captures the looming weight of commercialism that oppresses even the unsuspecting beneath it. In this way, the group of Paulins may take on the role of providing the segue between the Haggerty’s historical works collected to date and the new kids in town.

With these recent donations and the exhibitions that are slated to include them, the Haggerty is set to attract attention to the power of expression through prints on paper. At the same time, the museum will also reveal Mason’s expansive interpretation of the concept of making connections: with potential donors, among the works in the collection, and with every viewer beginning with Marquette University and extending into the community.

Categories: Art

0 thoughts on “Making connections with art: The Haggerty acquisitions”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I’m not sure why the question is even being asked, if there’s room for two venues for “Modern” art. Why not? Is Milwaukee so provincial it can’t have two – or multiple – venues for any category of art? The Milwaukee Art Museum is certainly always going to be important, but hoorah for the Haggerty to add to our collective cultural holdings. Although the audiences overlap, the Haggerty does serve a mission that’s distinct from MAM’s.

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