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 May 26, 2016
You've heard about the Fred Goll Mansion on Prospect Avenue in the news in recent months, but what of Henry G. Goll and his mansion on Kilbourn Avenue in Concordia? We went inside the house for a look at it and the story of its ill-fated namesake.
Published May 25, 2016
Today is National Wine Day - though I admit I celebrate this event considerably more than once a year - and it seems like the perfect time to share some of the wines I've been tasting lately.
Published May 24, 2016
Last year, we took you inside the Milwaukee Theater (formerly the Auditorium) and the Arena to get a look behind the scenes at these local landmarks. This time, we dig into the archives to find treasures from events held in those venues.
Published May 23, 2016
Pabst's return to the former brewery site - via a micro-brewery and tasting room in the former First German Methodist Church/Forst Keller restaurant - was projected to open by summer. But a fall 2016 opening is now more likely.
Published May 19, 2016
Nearby Chicago is the perfect place for a quick weekend getaway filled with, well, whatever you want, even if what you want is not a whole lot of planning, but just time to relax.
Published May 17, 2016
We got a peek inside the new Kimpton Journeyman Hotel, slated to open in the Third Ward this summer, including looks at the spaces that will host the Tre Rivali restaurant and the rooftop Outsider bar.
Published May 17, 2016
Typically, Milwaukee's oldest buildings reveal themselves readily. But sometimes, behind facades of glass and steel, you can find a portal into Brew City history. One such place is the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center, 325 W. Walnut St., a facility that glows like a new building.
Published May 16, 2016
To you, Julius La Rosa was the guy who was famously fired on the air by Arthur Godfrey. To me, he's that guy singing "Eh, Cumpari" and "Mama Rosa" on 45s I inherited from my grandmother. La Rosa died last week at age 86 ... in Crivitz.
Published May 12, 2016
While in the past, Milwaukee's Nineteen Thirteen drew on other talents, by the time it set out to record its new CD, Janet Schiff and Victor DeLorenzo were going it alone. "Music for Time Travel" is released Friday, May 13 at The Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend.
Published May 12, 2016
A reddish brick building at the intersection of two alleys north of the Bradley Center has most recently been used as storage for the arena. Its days are numbered as it is slated to come down soon to make way for the new arena. So, of course, I went inside to learn more.