Milwaukee Art Museum

The museum itself is a movable sculpture with wings that open and close during the day.

The Burke Brise Soleil is a movable, wing-like structure that claims to be a sun screen to control the temperature in the glass reception hall. The wings open daily at 10 am and close when the museum closes, as well as closing and opening at Noon each day. The fins range in length from 26 to 105 feet, and the total wingspan is 217 feet. It is controlled by an impressive array of pulleys and supports. Each fin is moved individually so the motion of the wings feels natural, if quite slow. The museum closes the wings if wind speeds exceed 23 miles per hour and during electrical, snow and ice storms.

The Burke Brise Soleil was deigned by architect Santiago Calatrava (Spanish, b. 1951) for the Milwaukee Art Museum Quadracci Pavilion in 2001.

The sculptural form of the museum extends beyond the sail to the horizontal line of the building blending into the horizon line of the lake, the boat-like shapes and materials, and the almost skeletal interior structures.

The galleries are gently positioned so that the spaces flow into each other but still create traditional right-angled spaces. The collection we saw was fairly eclectic - modern works through Egyptian and Byzantine works. I liked a number of pieces.

Robert Morris (American, b. 1931), Untitled, 1970. The sense of weight in this giant piece of industrial felt, and its reflection on the floor created a physical knowledge in my hands. I imagined the weight of long hair, lifted and drawn back. I could feel the motion in the felt, even though it was suspended in time for my observation.

In the same gallery of modern work, I found this illuminated piece. The piece is simple - a round glass or plastic disk, slightly curved, split horizontally by an opaque metallic strip, with four lights focused on it. The glass reflects most of the light and casts four shadows on the wall behind. I neglected to note the name of the artist though. (If you know it -- please send me a comment.) The illusion the work creates is fantastic - the opaque disk mostly disappears and the shadows become the shape of the work.

The sense of suspension in space and time in Edge of England (1999, by Cornelia Parker (English, b. 1956)), an array of chalk, wire, and wire mesh, appealed to me as well. It felt like a quarry explosion caught in mid-burst. I sought patterns within the shapes and edges of the rocks.

Like the process art at Dia:Beacon the museum also had a work of unlimited edition papers stacked in the center of the floor which viewers were invited to take. 1 copy of Untitled (Veterans Day Sale), 1989 by Felix Gonzalez-Torres (American, b. Cuba, 1957-1996), has now entered my personal collection of two of this type of work. The user does become a part of the work and the hesitated to take the work does push the boundaries of normal action within a museum.

A great deal of humor emerged from a tiny figure being pressed into the floor by a yellow chair. A projector gave him a mobile face and his words seemed to come from his lips. He made small statements of personal axioms.


the fraeulein said…
You are SUCH a great photographer.
the fraeulein said…
The fraeulein is jess, btw.
Turi said…
Hi Jess! Thanks for the blog visits and comments. Yes - this museum was fantastic - it's easy to photograph. You remember when we travelled Europe and I was anti-camera? I felt like standing behind the lense stopped me from really being in the moment, really experiencing the place.

Now I find that taking the photos allows me to create a visual and textual encapsulation of where I was - I forget less - but the images taken and saved, and the words written do create a hierarchy of memory.

So - we'll see how this changes in another 10 years - perhaps it'll be some totally different opinion or form.

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