Contemporary Wisconsin Furniture Maker Charles Radtke Highlighted in New Exhibition at Milwaukee Art Museum
Charles Radtke: Contained is the first retrospective exhibition for the Cedarburg, WI–based artist.
Milwaukee, Wis. – March 21, 2019 – Visitors to the Milwaukee Art Museum will have the opportunity to see meticulously crafted and subtly complex works that blur the boundaries between furniture and contemporary sculpture in Charles Radtke: Contained.
On view April 19–Aug 25, 2019, the new exhibition is the first retrospective for renowned furniture maker and artist Charles Radtke, who lives and works in Cedarburg, Wisconsin. Radtke’s objects are in a number of private and museum collections, including at the Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Milwaukee Art Museum.
More than 35 cabinets, tables, chairs and doors featuring the artist’s signature craftsmanship and attention to detail will be on view in the Bradley Family Gallery. The exhibition focuses on the artist’s ongoing exploration of the cabinet as a container. Several works have intricately designed interiors or hidden compartments, while others are more traditional woodworking forms.
“Radtke’s pieces initially draw the viewer in through the technical mastery and elegance of the work,” said Margaret Andera, interim chief curator and curator of contemporary art. “A closer look, however, reveals surprising features such as asymmetrical wood grain patterns, five-sided legs, and subtly painted details. We have watched the evolution of Radtke’s career, and are excited to bring greater national attention to this extraordinary artist.”
This exhibition not only celebrates the work of a Wisconsin artist but also encourages visitors to understand furniture beyond its function and to look more closely at materials and form.
“I really try to think about making something as pure and as salient as I possibly can without getting in the way of the design,” said Radtke. “When somebody looks at the furniture, I would like them to pause and try to absorb all of the nuances.”
Radtke has won multiple national awards throughout his career, including Best in Show at the Lakefront Festival of Art, held annually by Friends of Art at the Museum, in which he participated three years. His work was first featured at the Museum in the exhibition On Nature: Five Wisconsin Artists, in 2002.
Charles Radtke: Contained is curated by Margaret Andera, interim chief curator and curator of contemporary art, and organized by the Milwaukee Art Museum.
A full-color exhibition catalogue is being published by the Milwaukee Art Museum with essays by Margaret Andera and Glenn Adamson, Senior Scholar, Yale Center for British Art.
Exhibitions throughout 2019 are made possible by the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Visionaries including John and Murph Burke, Sheldon and Marianne Lubar, Joel and Caran Quadracci, Sue and Bud Selig and Jeff Yabuki and the Yabuki Family Foundation.
Artist Gallery Talks
Tues, April 30, 1:30 p.m.
With Charles Radtke and fellow furniture maker and UW-Madison professor Tom Loeser
Tues, August 13, 1:30 p.m.
With Charles Radtke and Margaret Andera, interim chief curator and curator of contemporary art
Free with Museum admission, free for Members
Tues, 1:30 p.m.
May 21, June 4
With Margaret Andera, interim chief curator and curator of contemporary art
Free with Museum admission, free for Members
*Exhibition photos available upon request
About the Milwaukee Art Museum
Home to a rich collection of more than 30,000 works of art, the Milwaukee Art Museum is located on the shores of Lake Michigan. Its campus includes the Santiago Calatrava–designed Quadracci Pavilion, annually showcasing three feature exhibitions, and the Eero Saarinen–designed Milwaukee County War Memorial Center and David Kahler‒designed addition. In 2016, after a yearlong renovation, the Museum reopened its Collection Galleries, debuting nearly 2,500 world-class works of art within dramatically transformed galleries and a new lakefront addition. This reimagined space also allows for the presentation of additional changing exhibitions. For more information, please visit: mam.org.
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