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Captivating exhibition at Milwaukee Art Museum explores identity in contemporary America
Kara Walker, Camptown Ladies, 1998, Paper and adhesive on wall, 97 1/2 x 666 in. (247.7 x 1691.6 cm), Rubell Family Collection, Miami.
MILWAUKEE, WIS.- Continuing its yearlong celebration honoring American art and artists, the Milwaukee Art Museum presents 30 Americans, showcasing the work of thirty-one contemporary African American artists who tackle issues around race, religion, gender, sexuality, and cultural identity. Opening June 14, this wide-ranging survey drawn from the Rubell Family Collection, Miami, explores ideas central to what it means to be an American.

“The art in 30 Americans is provocative and challenging, and will explore how our identities and histories are varied, yet we are all still Americans,” said Milwaukee Art Museum Director Daniel Keegan. “This is a vastly different exhibition from anything that the Museum has done in recent years.”

30 Americans will feature nearly eighty paintings, sculptures, photographs, installations, and digital media art by the following artists: Nina Chanel Abney, John Bankston, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Mark Bradford, iona rozeal brown, Nick Cave, Robert Colescott, Noah Davis, Leonardo Drew, Renée Green, David Hammons, Barkley L. Hendricks, Rashid Johnson, Glenn Ligon, Kalup Linzy, Kerry James Marshall, Rodney McMillian, Wangechi Mutu, William Pope.L, Gary Simmons, Xaviera Simmons, Lorna Simpson, Shinique Smith, Jeff Sonhouse, Henry Taylor, Hank Willis Thomas, Mickalene Thomas, Kara Walker, Carrie Mae Weems, Kehinde Wiley, and Purvis Young.

Placing works by established artists alongside those by emerging artists, the exhibition further compares the power of influence across generations and within communities. Kehinde Wiley’s old master–like portraits of black men made today resonate with Robert Colescott’s paintings from the 1970s–1990s that transpose African American culture in the narratives of art history. Mark Bradford and Shinique Smith from the West and East coasts, respectively, create works that reveal an affinity with Jean-Michel Basquiat’s charged graffiti-based paintings.

“This is not a subtle exhibition. It will inspire discussion,” said Keegan. “Our hope is that visitors will engage in dialogue both in and out of the Museum setting. This exhibition is interactive, and so the programs around it are meant to engage a variety of audiences.”

In conjunction with the 30 Americans exhibition, the Museum is presenting thirty works by thirty Wisconsin African American artists in Schroeder Galleria, as well as, in the Contemporary Galleries, works in the Museum’s Collection by African American artists and the five-channel video installation “Question Bridge: Black Males.” These complementary installations will remain open during the run of 30 Americans.

In celebration of its 125th anniversary, and in conjunction with the opening of 30 Americans, the Milwaukee Art Museum will host a Community Weekend event, with free admission on Saturday, June 15, and Sunday, June 16. The Museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and admission will be free for everyone who visits. A variety of programming is scheduled throughout the weekend.

30 Americans runs June 14, 2013, through September 8, 2013, and is coordinated at the Milwaukee Art Museum by William Keyse Rudolph, Dudley J. Godfrey Jr. Curator of American Art and Decorative Arts.






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