Press Releases

Date of Release: 
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Contact Info: 

Katie Kazan, Director of Public Information     
608.257.0158 x 237 or

Jane Simon, Curator of Exhibitions
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New MMoCA Exhibitions Explore Industry and Technology

New MMoCA Exhibitions Explore
Industry and Technology

MADISON, WI-- Madison, WI--Two new exhibitions at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art present works from the museum’s permanent collection that explore impacts of industry and technology. Picturing Technology: Land and Machine and The Industrial Modern, which open later this month, will be on view in MMoCA’s main galleries and State Street Gallery, respectively.

Picturing Technology
Land and Machine
May 21 to August 21, 2011

 From the invention of the wheel to industrialization to the digital age, new technologies have been associated with intellectual and cultural advances. And yet throughout the ages, there have been reactions against technology--movements that oppose the advances of science and innovation in favor of more natural lifestyles. 
In Picturing Technology: Land and Machine, MMoCA’s curator of exhibitions, Jane Simon, explores artists’ reactions to technology in the rural environment. With drawings, paintings, photographs, and prints by nearly 40 artists, the exhibition demonstrates responses to technology ranging from alarm to disdain to enthusiasm.
The photographs of O. Winston Link, for example, reveal the contemporary viewer’s nostalgia for older technologies. Link’s images of locomotives in rural America address our collective mythology of westward expansion and prosperity. 
Likewise, a series of nine photographs by Archie Lieberman demonstrate how technology has transformed our relationship to landscape, agriculture, and animals. Lieberman’s images show the realities of farming, as with a photograph of Margaret Dunbar and her daughter using bottles to feed hungry calves. Rather than separating the farmers from their calves, this technological innovation appears to enhance their tie. 
Forced Bloom 4 (2006), by Alyson Shotz, is one of several works in the exhibition that utilize or address capabilities of digital technology. Recent computer programs have allowed information and the storage of information to mushroom, triggering both positive and negative associations. By presenting viewers with “loaded” images” that spark both kinds of reactions, the exhibition raises questions about the role and value of technology in our lives.
Picturing Technology also presents works by Thomas Arndt, Warrington Colescott, Jim Dine, Vernon Fisher, and Claes Oldenburg, among others. 

The Industrial Modern
May 28–September 4, 2011

In contrast to the broader focus of Picturing Technology, the companion exhibition, The Industrial Modern, presents artists’ conflicted responses to industry, labor, and the urban environment from the middle of the nineteenth century to contemporary times. In doing so, the exhibition explores the tensions inherent in the “culture of progress.” The Industrial Modern is organized by MMoCA’s curatorial associate, Leah Kolb.
Starting in the eighteenth century, the enormous energy of the Industrial Revolution began to transform the physical, economic, and socio-political landscapes of both Europe and the United States. The changes--including urbanization, mechanization, and regimented labor--coincided with a growing interest among western artists in accurately representing the rhythms and realities of everyday life. 
Focusing on workers and strikers, factories and machines, skyscrapers and city centers, bridges and railroads, docks and shipyards--the shapes of steel, steam, concrete, and human labor--artworks in The Industrial Modern explore scenes previously deemed unworthy of serious artistic representation. William Gropper, for example, a committed left-wing radical, infused his works with a socio-political message, championing the cause of the exploited worker and highlighting the social injustices characteristic of the modern industrial age. In contrast, Donna Dennis eschews reference to human presence, focusing instead on the dingy interior of a vacant subway station. Light from three stark bulbs illuminates the impressive vernacular architecture, while simultaneously calling attention to the emptiness of the cavernous space and hinting at themes of desolation and urban alienation.    
The Industrial Modern also presents drawings, paintings, photographs, and prints by William Klein, Louis Lozowick, Samuel L. Margolies, Joseph Pennell, and Ben Shahn, among others.

Exhibition Sponsors

Generous support for Picturing Technology and The Industrial Modern has been provided by University Research Park, Inc.; the Madison Print Club; Potter Lawson, Inc.; a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts; and MMoCA Volunteers.

Related Proramming

Friday, June 3  •  5:30–10:30 pm
MMoCA Nights
Talks on June 3 by Thomas H. Garver and Jane Simon (described below) are part of an MMoCA Nights celebration marking the opening of Picturing Technology: Land and Machine and The Industrial Modern. The evening includes live music and complimentary seasonal hors d’oeuvres from Fresco, as well as the first Rooftop Cinema presentation of 2011. MMoCA Nights are free for museum members, $7 for non-members. 
MMoCA Nights are generously sponsored by Newcomb Construction Company; The Alexander Company; and M&I Bank; with media support from Isthmus| 
Friday, June 3  •  5:30–6:30 pm
Thomas H. Garver / Illustrated Lecture / MMoCA Lecture Hall
They Worked While You Slept: The Photographs of O. Winston Link
O. Winston Link is best known for his evocative photographs of the Norfolk & Western Railway taken during the mid-1950s, the final years of the steam-driven locomotive. Link’s carefully staged black-and-white photographs chronicle the end of an era, while also documenting a way of life in the rural communities that were served by the railroad. 
In a richly illustrated lecture, Thomas H. Garver will discuss O. Winston Link’s photographic project, including the technical innovations he devised to record moving trains at night. Garver is author of The Last Steam Railroad in America: Photographs by O. Winston Link and founding curator of the O. Winston Link Museum in Roanoke, Virginia. He was one of Link’s assistants for his extraordinary series of photographs of the Norfolk & Western Railway. Garver’s talk will take place in MMoCA’s lecture hall. 
Winston Link’s full collection of railroad photography together with interactive displays of his camera equipment, darkroom, and artifacts from some of his images can be found at the O. Winston Link Museum located in Roanoke, Virginia.  The Link Museum is the repository of all negatives, equipment, sounds, and images associated with Mr. Link’s famous work documenting the last days of steam railroading and a vanishing way of life in America.  The late 1950s were a time of great change in America and Mr. Link’s photographs of the trains, places, and people along the tracks of the Norfolk & Western Railway preserve this era with unmatched reality and humanity. Visit the museum at
Friday, June 3  •  7–7:30 pm 
Jane Simon Discusses Picturing Technology
Jane Simon, MMoCA’s curator of exhibitions, will give a gallery tour of Picturing Technology: Land and Machine. Referencing recent and past history, Simon will discuss the changing attitude toward technology in the western world as evidenced in works by Thomas Arndt, Alyson Shotz, Jim Dine, Claes Oldenburg, and H.C. Westermann, among others. Main galleries. 
Thursday, June 16  •  12:30–1:30 pm
Melanie Herzog: Locating the Industrial Modern
From the mid-nineteenth century to contemporary times, artists’ responses to industrialization have been variously reflective, celebratory, and critical. This talk will highlight ways in which artists have depicted the industrialized landscape, the impact of industrialization on the people who work in and inhabit these geographic and social spaces, and the industrial as inherently modern
Melanie Herzog is a professor in the Art Department at Edgewood College, where she teaches art history. A leading scholar on the art of Elizabeth Catlett, Herzog has authored definitive books on the artist. Her book Milton Rogovin: The Making of a Social Documentary Photographer was recently published on the occasion of an exhibition on Rogovin’s work organized by the Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona. Main galleries. 
Saturday, June 11 •  11–11:30 am
Drop-in Tour with Gil Hillman
In an informal, half-hour tour, docent Gil Hillman will discuss ways in which technology is simultaneously of practical and aesthetic importance in American life. MMoCA’s drop-in tours consider the choices that artists make in subject matter, style, and materials, and how, by analyzing these decisions, we can construct meaningful interpretations of the artists’ works.


Hours at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art are Tuesday–Thursday (noon–5 pm); Friday (noon–8 pm); Saturday (10 am–8 pm); and Sunday (noon–5 pm). The museum is closed on Mondays. 
Admission to exhibitions at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art is free of charge. MMoCA is supported through memberships and through generous contributions and grants from individuals, corporations, agencies, and foundations. Important support is also generated through auxiliary group programs; special events; rental of the museum’s lobby, lecture hall, and rooftop garden; and sales through the Museum Store.

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