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Focus/Madison: Works from the Permanent Collection

August 28, 2010 – November 14, 2010


Context, setting, and place define much of our thinking. This is especially true for artists who garner inspiration from the world around them. Focus/Madison examines works in the collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art that feature the city itself.

Photographs, prints, and paintings by 14 artists are included in the exhibition and demonstrate a striking range of perspectives. Photographs of political activists taken by Terry Husebye in 1971 are deliberately distorted through use of a wide-angle lens, enhancing the tension of confrontation. Twenty-six Polaroid photographs taken in the late 1970s by Gary Knowles show political demonstrations and cheerleaders, as well as important city landmarks like the Capitol building, the Red Gym, and the Wilson and Washington hotels. Demonstrating the city’s political focus during an earlier era, John Steuart Curry’s Progressive Party Rally depicts an impassioned political speech during the early twentieth century.

Works in the exhibition pose questions about our community and how we perceive it. They ask: is Madison as progressive as its reputation? How have we changed since the tumultuous 1960s and 1970s? Where does our city begin and end? What defines our city?

Artists in the exhibition also include Gibson Byrd, Dennis Church, Warrington Colescott, Gregory Conniff, Douglas Edmunds, Marshall Glasier, Allan Janus, Ellen Lanyon, Clayton Pond, Dana Van Horn, and Paul Vanderbilt.

Exhibition Support

Generous support for Focus/Madison: Works from the Permanent Collection has been provided by The Douglas Stewart Company, Inc.; Joe and Margo Melli; Jane Ann Blumenfeld; the Plantes Company, LLC.; a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts; and the Art League of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.