Grete Marks: When Modern Was Degenerate
Milwaukee Art Museum
700 North Art Museum Drive Milwaukee, WI
Through January 1
Grete Marks was born in Cologne in 1899 to an artistic Jewish family, and she enrolled in the ceramics program at the Bauhaus School in 1920. In 1923 she left the school to marry a young industrialist with whom she founded the Haël Factory for Artistic Ceramics to produce her designs. These works are composed of simple geometric shapes, glazed with striking colors and patterns in the style of Soviet Constructivist painters and showcasing the Bauhaus ideal of uniting industrial mass-production with Modernist aesthetics. Marks’ legacy as a potter was cut short by the Nazi party when in 1935 they declared her artwork “degenerate,” and her avant-garde pottery career ended with the onset of World War II. This will be the first American exhibition to explore Marks’ work and the circumstances that have prevented her name from entering the list of Bauhaus greats.
Currents 35: Tara Donovan
Milwaukee Art Museum
700 North Art Museum Drive
Through October 7
The work of Tara Donovan demands close reading. By using strict rule-based systems, Donovan accumulates individual pieces of material into installations that defy easy identification. Milwaukee Art Museum chief curator Brady Roberts explains, “Donovan’s process involves selecting one material and finding one unique solution for its construction, whether it’s folding, gluing, stacking, or pressing.” Taking cues from 1960s conceptual artists like Donald Judd and Sol LeWitt, whose works rely on rule-based processes, Donovan obscures her quotidian materials to compose spectacular objects. The exhibition includes several major works including Haze, a 32-foot wall covered in approximately three million straws, Unititled, 2008 on polyester film (detail, above), and Drawing (Pins), 2011 composed of gatorboard, paint, and nickel-plated steel pins.
Architect Frank Lloyd Wright is the single subject of the Milwaukee Art Museum’s new exhibit. Organic Architecture for the 21st Century, which celebrates the 100th anniversary of Taliesen, Wright’s Spring Green home and studio, also marks the debut of 33 never before seen drawings by the Wisconsin native. The show implores visitors to take a fresh look at Wright and his works, both built and unrealized, and how he envisioned architecture as something that had an essential relationship to context, time, and the people who lived or worked there. Sustainability, which we often think of as a 21st century innovation, is in keeping with many of Wright’s designs, especially those for a newly suburban America, including the outdoor arcade for the proposed Arizona State Capitol, Phoenix (above).
Organic Architecture for the 21st Century explores the idea that the famously outspoken architect was a visionary who foresaw trends including the use of mass produced materials, utilization of natural light, and attention to the surrounding environment. In addition to covering his major works, like Fallingwater, the Johnson Wax factory, and the Unity Temple, the exhibit also showcases plans for Living City, a culmination of Wright’s work and his utopian vision for suburbia.