We're used to seeing the big names in Milwaukee Art Museum's Calatrava expansion, but some of the lesser-known artists have fueled the most interesting shows.
Think, for example of Martin Ramirez's astonishing works on paper or the gallery's latest inhabitant, "Foto: Modernity in Central Europe, 1918-1945," which runs through May 4.
It's refreshing to see an exhibition -- nay, a fine exhibition -- of 20th century photography and see very few recognizable names and very few "landmark" images.
It's also a little disconcerting and encouraging. If you're a denizen of art museums, you might get a little cocky about what you've seen and what you know.
A show like this one will cut you down to size.
And cut is the appropriate word, too, because in some of the most engaging work in this large show, nothing is what it seems. There are photomontages, collage and other visual trickery to keep the viewer guessing and second-guessing.
But the post-war cut and paste and experimentalism of the likes of Evzen Markalous and Jaromir Funke gives way to more "traditional" images of "Modern Living" -- with its iconization of modernity (Laszlo Moholy-Nagy's dizzying "Radio Tower Berlin, 1928" is a highlight of this section) -- and "New Women -- New Men" -- with its similarly iconic 1931 image of Leni Riefenstahl, all sweat and strength, by Hungarian-American photographer Martin Munkacsi, and Lotte Jacobi's "Klaus and Erika Mann," which captured Germany's stylish "androgyny chic."
The exhibition -- organized by the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. -- also takes us through the surrealist movement, photography as propaganda, landscapes and it all comes full circle as photomontage returns with the return of war.
Regardless of their style or their use of photomontage, all of these 170 or so images capture the adventurous spirit of a century that was all about change and, sadly, all about war, too.
MAM, as usual, has a host of events related to "Foto" and you can see them all at the museum's Web site (there's a link below).
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Bobby Tanzilo
Published Feb. 6, 2016
Milwaukee is and has always been America's beer capital, so it makes perfect sense that the country's first African American brewery was born here thanks to Theodore Mack, Henry Crosby and their cohorts.
Published Feb. 5, 2016
The '50s might seem like light years away, but, really, you can get there in under an hour, by checking out some of these classic dining spots - including some drive-ins with car hops - in Kenosha.
Published Feb. 5, 2016
Despite the fact that it's cold outside, I wake up in the middle of the night a lot these days thinking about frozen custard. That's because I'm co-authoring a book about this delicacy at the moment and it's consuming me even more than I consume custard, which is saying something.
Published Feb. 1, 2016
Now that the Tippecanoe Library revamp is complete, attention is turning fully toward a mixed-use development that will replace the Mill Road branch. Here are some facts about the planned new library development at 7717 W. Good Hope Rd.
Published Jan. 29, 2016
Two turntables and a microphone has morphed into a laptop. But not all club DJs have given vinyl the toss. We caught up with Steven Watkins, who DJs at numerous venues around town, playing a variety of music to ask him about working as an "unplugged" turntablist.
Published Jan. 27, 2016
We're celebrating unplugged week here at OnMilwaukee - ironic, I know - but it's a perfect reminder that there is plenty to get out and do in this town if you'd just put the damn phone down for a minute (yes, guilty as charged). Here are six museums and shows worth checking out right now...
Published Jan. 26, 2016
Another remnant of old Milwaukee will soon disappear from the landscape as workers begin to deconstruct the four-story, 16-flat Vermont, 610 E. Mason St., to make way for Northwestern Mutual's 33-story, more than $100 million development that will occupy nearly the entire block.
Published Jan. 25, 2016
Each year on Jan. 25, Scotland and Scot-o-philes and poetry fans celebrate Burns Night to mark the birthday of the legendary voice of Caledonia, Robert Burns. Get in the spirit with some single malts from Islay.
Published Jan. 25, 2016
Has a book as gripping and engaging as Nicholas Petrie's crime novel, "The Drifter," ever been written about Milwaukee? Interweaving terrorism, homelessness, veterans and Riverwest, the book is a compelling page-turner.
Published Jan. 23, 2016
South Milwaukee native Lauren Kleppin, a professional runner who trains in Arizona, was on hand for the debut of the PNC Milwaukee Running Festival las autumn. We took that opportunity to ask Kleppin for some advice for runners.