By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jan 13, 2017 at 9:45 AM

The Milwaukee Art Museum has announced that by Milwaukeeans Susee and James Wiechmann have promised a gift to the museum of more than 500 posters by French graphic artist Jules Chéret, boosting the MAM’s already extensive collection of works on paper.

The gift also includes funding for a new position – associate curator of prints and drawings – which will be filled in February by Britany L. Salsbury, who comes to Milwaukee from the Rhode Island School of Design’s Museum of Art.

Anyone who has seen the classic French posters of the late 19th century will recognize Chéret’s flamboyant, high-kicking, colorful style. Working during the same era as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Pierre Bonnard – whose work he inspired – Chéret has been called the father of the modern poster.

A statement from the museum says "this unparalleled group of more than 500 Chéret artworks" is "one of the largest and most comprehensive of its kind (and) encompasses the full range of Chéret’s innovative output from his bold, expressive posters advertising theatrical events, social gatherings and a myriad of products; to designs for book covers and menus; to intimate lithographic studies of his models."

Some of the works were seen in the museum’s popular 2012 exhibition, "Posters of Paris: Toulouse-Lautrec and His Contemporaries," which helped make that year one of the most-attended in MAM’s history to that point.

"Susee and I are thrilled to add our Jules Chéret poster collection to the Museum’s treasures where it can be shared by all," said James Wiechmann in a statement. "These posters that lit up the streets of Paris in the late 1800s will now shine in the galleries of our Milwaukee Art Museum and those of other Museums as they are exhibited around the country."

Added Marcelle Polednik, Ph.D., Donna and Donald Baumgartner director:

"The Milwaukee Art Museum is thrilled about this extraordinary gift. It raises our standing both nationally and internationally, and makes us an important center for the study of the art of the French poster. We are deeply honored to receive this significant gift to the Museum, and are incredibly grateful to Susee and James for their generosity both in terms of a major gift of art and for the crucial institutional support which will help bring the collection to life."

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.