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Teaching Pages

School students enjoying art at MMoCA.

About Teaching Pages

Teaching pages provide analysis of a selection of works of art on view at the Museum, biographical information on featured artists, discussion questions, and links to additional resources. Teaching pages are prepared by MMoCA’s education department as an introduction to a museum visit by school groups.


On View Now

George Segal

The Art Depression Bread Line The large sculpture  Depression Bread Line  by George Segal portrays the experience of many urban Americans who suffered from hunger during the 1930s Great Depression. During this difficult period, which affected the whole world, economies…


Permanent Collection

Kenneth Josephson, New York State , 1970, gelatin silver print, 16 x 20 inches. Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art Kenneth Josephson

Kenneth Josephson

The Art New York State, 1970 Photographs are generally assumed to be depictions of the real world, especially if their content is made up of familiar objects in recognizable relationship…

Leopoldo Méndez

Leopoldo Méndez

The Art Pequeña maestro, ¡qué inmensa es su voluntad!/Little school teacher, how great is your will! This relief print, created as a backdrop for the opening and closing credits of…

Lorie Novak

Lorie Novak

The Art Self Portrait (Ellis Island) This ghostly photograph by Lorie Novak is named  Self Portrait (Ellis Island),  an unusual juxtaposition of words for a title. The title suggests that…

Manuel Álvarez Bravo

Manuel Álvarez Bravo

The Art Retrato de lo eterno/Portrait of the eternal Lush contrasts of dark and light draw the viewer close to this timeless scene of a woman gazing into a mirror.…

Karl Wirsum, Measle Mouse Quarantined From His Fans, 1980. Acrylic on wood, 24 1/8 x 15 x 4 inches. Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. The Bill McClain Collection of Chicago Imagism. Karl Wirsum

Karl Wirsum

The Art Measle Mouse Quarantined From His Fans This little wood figure has red spots on his face, neck, hands, feet, and on his round mouse ears. Even though Measle…

Martin Kersels

Martin Kersels

The Art Tossing a Friend (Melinda) (1, 2, and 3) In each photograph in  Tossing a Friend (Melinda) (1, 2, and 3) , one sees a petite woman in a…

Nancy Mladenoff

Nancy Mladenoff

The Art Cityscape Moonlight falls on the rooftops and lawns of a suburban neighborhood, adjacent to an urban center.  Most of the residents appear to be asleep, and noisy cars…

Nathaniel Mary Quinn

Nathaniel Mary Quinn

The Art Junebug In this portrait a man’s black hat, white shirt, and red beads draw our attention toward his multipart face in the center of the image. Painted as…

Juan Sánchez

Juan Sánchez

The Art Un Sueño Libre Juan Sánchez photographed this “moment in the street” when his friends’ children paused with their flowers and bicycle. The girls in front are smiling openly;…

Neil Welliver

Neil Welliver

The Art Prospect Stream Water courses through a clearing in a lush forest of birch and evergreen trees. A bright, clear day in summer is suggested by the strong contrast…

Paul Shambroom

Paul Shambroom

The Art Dassel City Council Paul Shambroom’s panoramic photograph has the appearance of a seventeenth-century Dutch painting of civic leaders. It is large, thirty-three inches high and sixty-six inches wide.…

Philip Hanson Mezzanine Philip Hanson

Philip Hanson

The Art Mezzanine Philip Hanson’s  Mezzanine  beckons us into a richly colored architectural space while simultaneously preventing us from knowing where the space leads or what lies at the end…

José Clemente Orozco, La retagardia/The rear guard, 1929. Lithograph, 16 7/8 x 22 3/4 inches. Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Bequest of Rudolph and Louise Langer José Clemente Orozco

José Clemente Orozco

The Art La retaguardia/The rear guard José Clemente Orozco created La retaguardia, or The Rear Guard , in 1929. Though Orozco painted many murals, he was also a renowned printmaker.…

Ed Paschke

Ed Paschke

The Art La Chanteuse and Prothesian With their electrifying greens, yellows, reds, and blues,  La Chanteuse  and  Prothesian  have the glow of a TV screen in a darkened room. Strong…

Red Grooms

Red Grooms

The Art Blewy II A heavy rainstorm is swooping through a colorful intersection of stores and apartments, streets and sidewalks. Like a typical big city corner, this one is jam-packed…

Robert Barnes

Robert Barnes

The Art Ragno’s Place Unraveling Robert Barnes’ paintings, such as  Ragno’s Place , is an exercise in sorting out how we arrive at “reality”. Even though his paintings are usually…

John Colt

John Colt

The Art Pond Tokens The “pond tokens” in this lithograph are treasures the artist has discerned from close looking at a watery scene. John Colt was not interested in exploring…

Robert Lostutter

Robert Lostutter

The Art Trader of Green Trader of Green  is an unusual portrait. Even though its format is a traditional close-up view of a figure shown from the front and with…

Warrington Colescott, The Future: On the Line Warrington Colescott

Warrington Colescott

The Art The Future: On the Line There’s a pun in the title  The Future: On the Line . Assembly line workers are building vehicles of the future, but their…

Tom Uttech, Portage to Cache Lake Tom Uttech

Tom Uttech

The Art Portage to Cache Lake Changing daylight illuminates a vibrant scene of lake and forest in the American North. Spindly pine trees and moss-covered boulders fill a narrow strip…

Todd Hido

Todd Hido

The Art Untitled #2154-A A single house under a darkened sky looks isolated and alone. Exterior light reflects off plastic insulation sheeting covering a second story window in an otherwise…

Joan Snyder, Requiem/Let Them Rest , 1997-98. Etching, lithograph, and woodcut. 26 x 20¼”. Printed by Jungle Press, New York City. Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Gift of the Edith and Milton Lowenthal Collection. Joan Snyder

Joan Snyder

The Art Requiem/Let Them Rest Requiem/Let Them Rest by Joan Snyder is an arresting mix of color and text. If a person were to walk by this image tagged on…

Toby Buonagurio, Tangerine Rainbow Toby Buonagurio

Toby Buonagurio

The Art Tangerine Rainbow A tangerine colored tiger strides forward, its mouth open in a roar, baring its teeth. Its stripes and the body armor covering its legs and shoulders…

Suellen Rocca

Suellen Rocca

The Art Game Surrounded by a black margin, on what seems like a collaged sheet of paper painted with watercolors, is a colorful game board actually painted with thinned oils…

Jin Soo Kim, untitled , C.H.F., c.1985-1990. Steel, paper, chicken wire, dirt, and acrylic, 33½ x 25½ x 25½ inches. Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Gift of Karen Lennox Gallery, Chicago. Jin Soo Kim

Jin Soo Kim

The Art untitled, C.H.F. Only three feet tall, untitled, C.H.F. is a bulbous little chair whose underlying metal frame is wrapped with thick skeins of tightly knotted brown paper twisted…

Sonya Y. Clark

Sonya Y. Clark

The Art Triad Is this object made from real hair? Is it a hat? Is it part of a costume? Who might wear it? Since it is three-dimensional and is…

Jim Nutt, Wee Jim's Black Eye, 1986. Acrylic on Masonite with artist's painted frame, 26 1/8 x 21 inches. The Bill McClain Collection of Chicago Imagism, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Jim Nutt

Jim Nutt

The Art Wee Jim’s Black Eye Some kind of trouble may have happened to someone named Jim. One of his eyes is black and larger than the other. His nose…

Sergio Gonzalez-Tornero

Sergio Gonzalez-Tornero

The Art Fish Sergio Gonzalez-Tornero has created a haunting image of an extraordinary fish as it floats in the depths of the sea. The fish appears to glow from within,…

Sarah Canright

Sarah Canright

The Art Shadow Sarah Canright’s painting  Shadow  can be read as three layers of precise patterning in ghostlike tones of blue, pink, purple, white, and green. The tightly composed background…

Sam Francis

Sam Francis

The Art Untitled Mandala Radiating from a white center, four concentric squares of bright color glow from the surface of a large square sheet of white paper. Yellow, red, and…

Janet Fish, Sasha with a Bowl of Candy, 1988. Pastel, 30 x 44 inches. Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Purchase, in honor of Janet Ela, through funds contributed by the Art League and other friends. Janet Fish

Janet Fish

The Art Sasha with a Bowl of Candy During an interview with Janet Fish, Carter Ratcliff commented on the narrative aspect of her paintings, saying, “You seem to present moments…

Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein

The Art Foot and Hand In this dramatic moment a booted foot stomps on a hand that has reached for a gun. Whatever has happened before and what is going…

Sam Gilliam – Irish Spring Here

Sam Gilliam – Irish Spring Here

The Art Carousel Irish Spring Here,  created in 1980, is one of many heavily textured, geometric collage paintings that Sam Gilliam began creating in the mid 1970s. By this time…

Sam Gilliam – Carousel

Sam Gilliam – Carousel

The Art Carousel Carousel , a colorful, sixty-seven-foot-long, draped canvas, hangs suspended from the ceiling. Sam Gilliam was consulted about the arrangement of  Carousel;  however, he does not have strict…

Jane Hammond

Jane Hammond

The Art Irregular Plural Jane Hammond’s painting Irregular Plural II inspires a complex “reading.” The canvas, shaped like an enormous book with scalloped end sheets and gilt edging, is filled…

Rufino Tamayo

Rufino Tamayo

The Art Demi poisson/Halved Fish An ordinary meal of fish, offered with lemons for their citrus seasoning, takes on significance and dream-like mystery in this lithographic print by Rufino Tamayo,…

James Falconer

James Falconer

The Art Hateha Thick swathes of blue, orange, yellow, red, and black burst forth in James Falconer’s Hateha . Streaks of orange with yellow highlights and blue with thin black…

Romare Bearden – Serenade

Romare Bearden – Serenade

The Art Serenade Serenade  depicts an intimate moment between two people. They face each other and gaze into one another’s eyes. Their hands come together on the guitar. Their bodies…

J. Shimon & J. Lindemann, Trish and Matt Downtown, Manitowoc, Wisconsin , 1995. Gelatin silver print, 34 x 27 inches. Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Purchase, through funds from the Brittingham Foundation. © J. Shimon & J. Lindemann. J. Shimon & J. Lindemann

J. Shimon & J. Lindemann

The Art Trish and Matt Downtown, Manitowoc, Wisconsin In John Shimon and Julie Lindemann’s black-and-white photograph, a young man and woman pose for a photograph captured using techniques from the…

Romare Bearden – Odysseus Leaves Nausicaa

Romare Bearden – Odysseus Leaves Nausicaa

The Art Odysseus Leaves Nausicaa The Greek epic  The Odyssey  is filled with colorful tales of overcoming obstacles in the pursuit of an overriding goal. In the segment of the…

Roger Brown – Forest Fire

Roger Brown – Forest Fire

The Art Forest Fire Roger Brown’s painting  Forest Fire  presents a mysterious scene. Cloud-like trees arranged in four neatly scalloped rows form a vast landscape of overlapping hills. Each tree…

Roger Brown – Sudden Avalanche and Mountain Sites

Roger Brown – Sudden Avalanche and Mountain Sites

The Art Sudden Avalanche and Mountain Sites Two very different neighborhoods are depicted in Roger Brown’s oil paintings  Sudden Avalanche  and  Mountain Sites,  but in both scenes nature and humans…

Ray Yoshida – Unreasonable Lineage

Ray Yoshida – Unreasonable Lineage

The Art Unreasonable Lineage The torn paper fragments in this curious collage by Ray Yoshida appear to represent a collection of something. Thirty-eight irregularly shaped pieces of paper have been…

Hollis Sigler, I Thought I Was In Paradise , 1995, oil on canvas with painted frame, 32 x 36 inches. Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Gift of the artist. Hollis Sigler

Hollis Sigler

The Art I Thought I Was In Paradise At first glance this colorful scene appears idyllic. Lawn chairs with matching fuchsia and orange stripes recline near a path of light.…

Ray Yoshida – AAIEEE!

Ray Yoshida – AAIEEE!

The Art AAIEEE! In this cut-paper collage by Ray Yoshida, over 180 individually excised pieces float against a flat pale-gray background. The pasted fragments appear to be evenly distributed across…

Gladys Nilsson, Some Other Tree, 2001. Watercolor and gouache on paper, 40 x 25 inches. Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. The Bill McClain Collection of Chicago Imagism. Gladys Nilsson

Gladys Nilsson

The Art Some Other Tree and Sites Unscene Some Other Tree and Sites Unscene display Gladys Nilsson’s delight in creating puzzling spaces crowded with interacting figures, and scenes where sizes…

Frida Kahlo, Pitahayas, 1938. Oil on aluminum, 10 x 14 inches. Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Bequest of Rudolph and Louise Langer. © 2013 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo

The Art Pitahayas Frida Kahlo painted Still Life: Pitahayas in 1938 when she was thirty-one years old. It was painted with oil on aluminum, the traditional materials used in Mexico…

Frances Myers, A One Act Play , 1984. Aquatint with hand-coloring, collage, and monoprint. 30½ x 35½ inches. Lent by Warrington Colescott Frances Myers

Frances Myers

The Art A One Act Play In A One Act Play , the familiar comic book hero Wonder Woman is confronted by another female character whose blonde hair, beaded necklace,…

Erik Weisenburger, Ursa Memoriam , 1998. Oil on panel, 33¾ x 23 inches. Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Purchase, through Rudolph and Louise Langer Fund. Erik Weisenburger

Erik Weisenburger

The Art Ursa Memoriam At once beautiful and mysterious, the paintings of Erik Weisenburger enchant viewers with their luscious color and intricate detail. Upon first glance, his painting Ursa Memoriam…

Ellen Lanyon, Chromos: Winter I, Autumn II, Spring III, Summer IV, 1982 , acrylic on canvas, 68 x 192 inches. Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Gift from the estate of Ellen Lanyon Ellen Lanyon

Ellen Lanyon

The Art Chromos: Winter I, Autumn II, Spring III, Summer IV In Ellen Lanyon’s 1982─83 painting Chromos: Winter I, Autumn II, Spring III, Summer IV , four separate canvases function…

George Segal

George Segal

The Art Depression Bread Line The large sculpture  Depression Bread Line  by George Segal portrays the experience of many urban Americans who suffered from hunger during the 1930s Great Depression.…

Ed Flood, Aluminum Floater #2, 1974. Acrylic on Plexiglas with aluminum frame, 31 7/8 x 24 5/8 inches. Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. The Bill McClain Collection of Chicago Imagism. Edward Flood

Edward Flood

The Art Aluminum Floater #2 Ed Flood’s Aluminum Floater #2 is made from layers of Plexiglas in an aluminum frame. The artwork’s transparency causes its environment to be part of…

Duane Brissette Moonrise Duane Brissette

Duane Brissette

The Art Moonrise In  Moonrise , an apparently festive occasion—people arriving at a brightly lit pavilion for a night of dancing—forms the backdrop for a potentially dangerous encounter. The action…

Diego Rivera, El sueño (La noche de los pobres)/Sleep (The night of the poor), 1932. Lithograph, 22 5/8 x 15 7/8 inches. Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Bequest of Rudolph and Louise Langer. Diego Rivera

Diego Rivera

The Art El sueño (La noche de los pobres)/Sleep (The night of the poor) El sueño (La noche de los pobres), or Sleep (The night of the poor) , is…

David Bigelow The Spy David Bigelow

David Bigelow

The Art The Spy What a lot of rhinos! As many as twenty-one rhinoceros are standing in a plaza surrounded by adobe walls not far from a big city—settings that…

David Alfaro Siqueiros, Retrato de Moisés Sáenz/Portrait of Moisés Sáenz, 1931. Lithograph, 24 x 20 1/4 inches. Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Bequest of Rudolph and Louise Langer. David Alfaro Siqueiros

David Alfaro Siqueiros

The Art Retrato de Moisés Sáenz/Portrait of Moisés Sáenz In his Portrait of Moisés Sáenz , artist David Alfaro Siqueiros has brought together several of his interests: modernist art styles…

Rob and Christian Clayton, Tim House (In Green Pastures), from the series Tim House, 2001, mixed media on wood panel with electrical and sound. 129 ¼ x 60 ¼ x 71 ½ inches. Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art Clayton Brothers

Clayton Brothers

The Art Tim House (In Green Pastures) Tim House (In Green Pastures) , the child-size sculpture by Rob and Christian Clayton, is a vibrantly painted wooden structure covered with words…

Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #30, 1979. Gelatin silver print, 7 x 9 inches. Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Purchased through funds from the National Endowment for the Arts grant. Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman

The Art Untitled Film Still #30 In Untitled Film Still #30 , a distraught woman stares slack-jawed from within a dimly lit room. The setting is claustrophobic, with its dark…

Christina Ramberg Untitled Christina Ramberg

Christina Ramberg

The Art Untitled The flat picture plane of Christina Ramberg’s small acrylic painting, Untitled, is divided into a two-by-two grid of equilateral squares. Each quadrant foregrounds a shadowy, hard-edged form…

Carl Corey, 3641 – Tom and Dino Christ – Nick's Restaurant – Madison, WI from the portfolio For Love and Money, 2011. Archival pigment print, 32 x 32 inches. Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Anonymous gift. Carl Corey

Carl Corey

The Art 3641 – Tom and Dino Christ – Nick’s Restaurant – Madison, WI from the portfolio For Love and Money Nick’s Restaurant is a portrait of brothers Dino and…

Barbara Rossi Eye Deal Barbara Rossi

Barbara Rossi

The Art Eye Deal In Barbara Rossi’s 1974 painting on Plexiglas Eye Deal, a mass of globular forms appears to emerge upwards from beyond the bottom of the picture plane.…

Art Green, Regulatory Body, 1974. Oil on canvas, 75 1/4 x 57 1/4 inches. Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. The Bill McClain Collection of Chicago Imagism. Art Green

Art Green

The Art Regulatory Body Regulatory Body presents a vibrant scene of brightly painted objects both familiar and puzzling. Red shoes, blue cannonballs, shiny gray missile heads, and peculiar machine parts…

Andy Warhol, Birmingham Race Riot , 1964, screenprint, 30⅛ x 40 inches. Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Gift of the Betty Parsons Foundation. © Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol

The Art Birmingham Race Riot Andy Warhol’s photographic screenprint Birmingham Race Riot reveals a moment during a 1963 civil rights demonstration when white police officers and their dogs attacked black…

Alex Katz

Alex Katz

The Art Ada on Green Couch A woman in a red shirt rests her head on the back of a sofa, eyes gazing toward the viewer as if she coolly…

Alec Soth, Cemetery, Fountain City, WI , 2002, from Sleeping by the Mississippi, 2002 dye-coupler print, 32 x 40 inches. Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Alec Soth

Alec Soth

The Art Cemetery, Fountain City Gas pumps at a roadside convenience store sit idle below rows of headstones in a quiet cemetery. Lights from a canopy over the pump island…