Susceptible to Images Road Trip
Kat goes to Madison. Hey, they have art there. Also, the weekend Art Date Calendar.
In summer, the road calls to us. Madison’s perfect for an art day-trip, which should include the Chazen Museum of Art on the University of Wisconsin campus.
The Chazen, an encyclopedic teaching museum, covers everything from ancient Greek vases to changing contemporary exhibitions. Though largely focused on the Western tradition of art — things that ultimately come out of European culture — some compact but very rich galleries are devoted to Asian and African art.
The modern and contemporary galleries in the new wing often delight and surprise me. Typically, a gallery may be given over to paintings, or to drawings, maybe with a few sculpture dotting the space. The Chazen’s curatorial vision mixes things up, with drawings and studies next to paintings or shown independently. Seeing the studies is like eavesdropping on the thought process of the artist. Marks on the page reveal spontaneity in the scribbled shadows of a drawing, or the conception of monumental works as seen in pieces by David Smith or Christo and Jeanne-Claude. A paper cut-out of a woman by Picasso appears next to his finished sculpture, ultimately realized in thin metal.
Other points of interest include a couple of paintings by Piet Mondrian, from early in the career of this De Stijl master. They are worlds away from the stark grids and primary colors that later made him famous. Many American artists are featured, including a selection of works from such Regionalists as Thomas Hart Benton, John Steuart Curry (who taught at UW-Madison in the ‘30s and ‘40s) and Grant Wood.
A trip to Madison would not be complete without some time around State Street, in the neighborhood of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. The Museum’s permanent collection covers a broad swath of the modern and contemporary fields and features many Wisconsin artists. Temporary exhibitions keep tabs on new works and media — Cecelia Condit’s Within a Stone’s Throw is on view now. The three-channel video at the heart of this exhibition follows the artist/protagonist through the wild Irish countryside, as though trailing after the trajectory of a stone flying over ancient and lonely land. Composite photographs round out the show. Visions of Lake Michigan waters take on a surreal cast, as if photographed through the filter of William Blake’s imagination.
A trip to Madison next week will yield even more viewing pleasure. The 54th annual Art Fair on the (Capitol) Square will be held on Saturday, July 14 and Sunday, July 15. More than 450 artists will participate with works of painting, photography, clothing, jewelry and much more. Art Fair Off the Square, held concurrently, features 140 additional artists, plus a Kids’ Craft Corner.
Plan your Madison Art Trip
Chazen Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin Campus, 750 University Ave. Free admission.
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 227 State St. Free admission.
James Watrous Gallery, Overture Center for the Arts, 201 State St., 3rd Floor. Free admission.
Art Fair On the Square, Capitol Square, W. Mifflin & State Streets, Saturday, July 14, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., Sunday, July 15, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Art Fair Off the Square, Downtown Madison, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and Monona Terrace Convention Center Esplanade, Saturday, July 14, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Sunday, July 15, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.