Press Releases

Date of Release: 
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Contact Info: 

Katie Kazan, Director of Public Information
608.257.0158 x 237 or

Upcoming Exhibitions and Major Events

Madison Museum of Contemporary Art Announces 
Upcoming Exhibitions and Major Events

MADISON, WI —The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA) is a nonprofit, independent organization that exists to exhibit, collect, preserve, and interpret modern and contemporary art. The museum’s 60,000-square-foot home, which opened in 2006, was designed by architect Cesar Pelli and made possible by the generosity of W. Jerome Frautschi. MMoCA features exhibitions by regional, national, and international artists, and a permanent collection of approximately 5,000 works.


Exhibitions at MMoCA are free and open to the public. All information in this advance release is subject to change.


Chicago Imagists at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art
Through January 15, 2012

In the late 1960s, art audiences were introduced to a vibrant new generation of artists who would soon be identified collectively as the Chicago Imagists. Like the Pop artists in New York, Los Angeles, and London, who were somewhat older, these young artists drew inspiration from the everyday urban world and popular culture. But despite these common interests, the Chicago Imagists were more focused on a fantasy art of brilliant color, graphic strength, and free line. With sources and inspirations that ranged from comic books to surrealism, the Chicago Imagists trafficked in exuberant and irreverent satire that spoke to the political and social foibles, as well as the whimsy, of contemporary life at the end of the tumultuous 1960s and into the 1970s.


Chicago Imagists at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art includes more than 75 works by Roger Brown, Sarah Canright, Ed Flood, Art Green, Philip Hanson, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Ed Paschke, Christina Ramberg, Suellen Rocca, Barbara Rossi, and Karl Wirsum, as well as their friend and mentor Ray Yoshida. The great majority of the works in the exhibition are from the Bill McClain Collection of Chicago Imagism, and many are on view to the public for the first time. The exhibition is accompanied by a major publication. Titled Chicago Imagists, this richly illustrated book is the most extensive examination to date of the Imagist artists, their influences, and their place within American history and art history.


Chicago Imagists at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art is on view in the museum’s main galleries.


Chicago School: Imagists in Context

Through January 8, 2012

After World War II, a distinctive artistic style emerged in Chicago—a visual sensibility centered on figuration, expressionist subjectivity, and surrealist illogic. At the same time that Abstract Expressionism was largely replacing image-based art within the powerful 1950s New York art scene, Chicago artists held tight to recognizable forms. In doing so, they influenced future generations, including the Chicago Imagists and their artistic descendants. Continuing to work within the figurative tradition, the Imagists and other later Chicago artists infused their work with fantasy, symbolism, and investigations into the psychological, thereby echoing the eccentric, irrational imagery initiated by the immediate postwar generation.


Chicago School: Imagists in Context offers a cultural framework in which to consider the work of the Chicago Imagists. Drawing from the museum’s permanent collection, this exhibition presents works by artists who influenced the Imagists or were influenced by them-—from the expressionistically rendered human figures of Leon Golub to the sexually charged, surrealist watercolors of Robert Lostutter. Other artists represented include Robert Barnes, Phyllis Bramson, Don Baum, Ellen Lanyon, June Leaf, Peter Saul, Hollis Sigler, and H.C. Westermann, among others.


Chicago School: Imagists in Context is on view in the museum’s State Street Gallery.


E Pluribus Unum: Artists Picture Society

Through June 10, 2012

E Pluribus Unum. Out of many, one. This Latin phrase—the motto on the Great Seal of the United States—declares that the country’s diverse citizenry is bound together in a greater whole for the good of all. The phrase states, in three simple words, the fundamental premise of American society.


E Pluribus Unum: Artists Picture Society offers the perspectives of modern and contemporary American artists whose works ponder ethnicity, gender, race, class, and political belief. The various understandings of these artists bear witness to who we are as a society and demonstrate the hopefulness and complexities inherent in regarding the United States as a great “melting pot.” Artists represented in the exhibition include, among others, Diane Arbus, Christo, John Steuart Curry, Nancy Mladenoff, and Andy Warhol; all works of art on view are drawn from the museum’s permanent collection.


E Pluribus Unum is on view in the museum’s Henry Street Gallery.


¡Tierra y Libertad! Revolution and the Modernist Mexican Print

January 14--April 15, 2012

In the wake of the Mexican Revolution (1910–1920), Mexico experienced an important print revival that paralleled the country’s great mural movement. Many of the muralists, including the celebrated José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and David Alfaro Siqueiros, also made prints. For these artists and others, prints were valued, in part, because of the influential role they could play, in keeping with the activist program of monumental frescoes appearing on buildings in Mexico City and the provinces. Like murals, prints were an accessible, populist medium, and despite their smaller format, they embodied the post-revolutionary aspirations of the larger works. Mexican artists embraced printmaking as a way to transmit their political messages to the broadest audience possible.


¡Tierra y Libertad! Revolution and the Modernist Mexican Print draws from the permanent collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, whose holdings in Mexican prints are among the finest and most extensive in the Midwest. The exhibition presents linocuts, woodcuts, lithographs, and etchings by Orozco, Rivera, and Siqueiros, and also includes a broad array of prints produced by the Taller de Gráfica Popular (the print workshop of the people). Founded in 1937, TGP fervently believed in art’s capacity for social protest and the betterment of the masses.


¡Tierra y Libertad! will be on view in the museum’s State Street Gallery.


Houdini: Art and Magic

February 11--May 13, 2012

Harry Houdini (1874–1926), the renowned magician and escape artist, was one of the twentieth century’s most famous performers. His gripping theatrical presentations and heart-stopping outdoor spectacles attracted unprecedented crowds, and his talent for self-promotion and provocation captured headlines on both sides of the Atlantic.


Organized by The Jewish Museum, New York, Houdini: Art and Magic is the first major art museum exhibition to examine Houdini’s life, legend, and enduring cultural influence. The exhibition includes works in a variety of media by such contemporary artists as Matthew Barney, Jane Hammond, Vik Muniz, and Raymond Pettibon—each of whom has been inspired by Houdini—as well as historic photographs; dramatic Art Nouveau-era posters and broadsides; theater ephemera; and archival and silent films illuminating Houdini’s role as a world-famous celebrity who commanded a mass audience in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Magic apparatus—rarely exhibited together—handcuffs, shackles, straitjacket, a milk can and a packing trunk are showcased in the context of their original presentation.


Prior to its appearance at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, the exhibition was on view at The Jewish Museum from October 29, 2010, through March 27, 2011, before traveling to the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, CA (April 28–September 4, 2011); and the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, CA (September 30, 2011–January 16, 2012).


Houdini: Art and Magic will be on view in the museum’s main galleries.


Design MMoCA

April 26--May 6, 2012

Gala Opening: April 25

Great art can inspire designs that touch every aspect of our lives, from the chairs we sit in at work, to the websites we browse for news, to the architecture of our homes. Once again, Design MMoCA will present audiences with a stunning display of works inspired by the museum’s permanent collection, while raising funds to support MMoCA’s free-admission policy.


Design MMoCA 2012 will invite designers from a range of fields—including graphic, industrial, architectural, and interior design—to use an artwork from MMoCA’s permanent collection as the point of departure for a new professional project. As with Design MMoCA 2008 and Design MMoCA 2010, participants will draw inspiration from their selected artwork. However, with the expanded scope of the event, works on view will highlight a wider range of projects. Creations could include a full-scale interior setting, piece of furniture, kitchen appliance, website, or graphic design campaign.


Gallery Night

May 4, 2012

Organized by the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Gallery Night is Madison’s semiannual celebration of the visual arts. From 5 to 9 pm on Friday, May 4, art lovers can look forward to free demonstrations, new works of art, and live performances at arts venues and galleries across the city. An interactive map showing participating galleries will be published on


Cecelia Condit: Within a Stone’s Throw

May 26--September 9, 2012

In Cecelia Condit: Within a Stone’s Throw, the Milwaukee-based artist will present new works in still and moving images. A major new three-channel video challenges conventional perceptions of reality, scale, and nature. With beautiful simplicity, Condit transforms geographically distant images into fluid landscapes, toying with the viewer’s ability to interpret the world. The visual language is both unadorned and mythological, portraying the eternal cycles of existence. Throughout the installation, Condit acts as sprite interpreter and guide, facilitating deeper connections to the fragility and timelessness of our planet. Within a Stone’s Throw will also feature a new series of digital color photographs focused on the natural world.


Cecelia Condit: Within a Stone’s Throw will be on view in the museum’s State Street Gallery.



June 2--August 19, 2012

From the earliest cave drawings and tribal totems, animals have served as a constant subject throughout the history of art. Artistic depictions of animals can communicate ways humans make sense of both nature and civilization, and the often complex intersection of the two. Presenting artworks that feature animals occupying various environments and contexts--from natural to manmade, scientific to domestic, and religious to mythological—Zoo/ology explores the use of animal imagery by modern and contemporary artists. At the same time that it considers the cultural roles and meanings of animals in contemporary life, it investigates what these roles and meanings reveal about the human species. Works by artists such as Theophile Steinlen, Thomas Hart Benton, Warrington Colescott, Brad Kahlhammer, Ellen Lanyon, and Tom Uttech, Zoo/ologydemonstrate the evocative power of animal imagery to tell not only of the animal itself, but also of the people associated with it.


Zoo/ology will be on view in the museum’s main galleries.


Seen/Unseen: Reality As Visualized By Modern And Contemporary Artists

June 23, 2012--June 16, 2013

Artists throughout history have pictured reality as understood by their societies. Implicit in all works of art are assumptions about the nature of everything that exists. What is reality? Is it objective and understandable, or subjective and elusive? Mundane or sacred? Set in time, or not? Finite or infinite? Philosophers, scientists, poets, and artists approach these questions through their culture’s notion of the world and the role of human beings within it.


Seen/Unseen offers the ponderings of modern and contemporary artists such as John Steuart Curry, Marsden Hartley, Mary Heilman, Sol Le Witt, and Alyson Shotz, whose works directly or indirectly address the greater scheme of things. This exhibition brings to a close a series of three exhibitions that have explored the nature of self, society, and reality—themes that have drawn upon MMoCA’s permanent collection, and which collectively help map out the essential character of modern and contemporary art.


Seen/Unseen will be on view in the museum’s Henry Street Gallery.


Art Fair on the Square

July 14--15, 2012

For hundreds of thousands of area residents, Art Fair on the Square has become central to summers in Madison. It is also the most important annual fundraiser for the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, supporting the museum’s free exhibitions and education programs. This year’s fair will feature the work of more than 450 artists exhibiting paintings, prints, photographs, sculpture, jewelry, wearables, and fine craft as well as a mix of music, entertainment, and outdoor dining.


Dates and hours for Art Fair on the Square 2012 are: Saturday, July 14 (9 am–6 pm) and Sunday, July 15 (10 am–5 pm).



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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