Press Releases

Date of Release: 
Thursday, June 30, 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.


From industrialization to the digital age, new technologies have been associated with intellectual and cultural advances. Even so, there have often been reactions against such changes--movements that oppose the advances of technology and innovation in favor of more natural lifestyles.

Picturing Technology: Land and Machine explores artists’ reactions to technology, focusing on technological innovations 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 exhibition presents photographs, paintings, prints, and installations from the museum’s permanent collection by Tom Arndt, Warrington Colescott, Jim Dine, Vernon Fisher, Archie Lieberman, O. Winston Link, Claes Oldenburg, and Alyson Shotz, among others.

Picturing Technology functions as a broad back-drop to a concurrent MMoCA exhibition, The Industrial Modern (May 28–September 4, 2011), which focuses on the impacts of industrial change on urban landscapes and communities in the early twentieth century.

Picturing Technology is on view in the museum’s main galleries.

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.

The Industrial Modern examines artists’ conflicted responses to industry, labor, and the urban environment from the middle of the nineteenth century to contemporary times. The exhibition focuses 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. The exhibition presents drawings, paintings, photographs, and prints by Donna Dennis, William Gropper, William Klein, Louis Lozowick, Samuel L. Margolies, Joseph Pennell, and Ben Shahn, among many others.

The Industrial Modern is on view in the museum’s State Street Gallery.

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.

JULY 9–10, 2011
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 2011 are: Saturday, July 9 (9 am–6 pm) and Sunday, July 10 (10 am–5 pm).

SEPTEMBER 11, 2011–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 will include 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 exhibition is being organized by the museum’s curator of collections, Richard H. Axsom; director, Stephen Fleischman; and former curator of exhibitions, Jane Simon, and will be accompanied by a major publication. Titled Chicago Imagists, this richly illustrated book will include essays by Lynne Warren, curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Cécile Whiting, professor of art history at the University of California, Irvine; and the exhibition curators. Together, these writings will comprise 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 will be on view in the museum’s main galleries.

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, Miyoko Ito, Ellen Lanyon, June Leaf, Peter Saul, Hollis Sigler, and H.C. Westermann, among others.

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

OCTOBER 14, 2011
Gallery Night is Madison’s semiannual celebration of the visual arts. From 5 to 9 pm on Friday, October 14, 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

OCTOBER 29, 2011
Each fall, art lovers gather to dance and dine in support of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art and the Madison Symphony Orchestra. Arts Ball has become a Madison institution, an occasion to build and renew friendships, while contributing to the continued financial health of both institutions.

NOVEMBER 18–20, 2011
Holiday Art Fair provides shoppers an opportunity to purchase handcrafted gifts in the stunning architectural spaces of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art and Overture Center for the Arts. In addition to unique works by artists chosen through a jury process, shoppers can enjoy live holiday music, a Gourmet Gallery, a silent auction, and the return of the Rediscovered Art & Treasures Sale.

Holiday Art Fair is a collaborative project of MMoCA and Overture Center for the Arts in support of their free exhibitions and community outreach programs. Dates and hours for Holiday Art Fair 2011 are: Friday, November 18 (2–8 pm); Saturday, November 19 (10 am–5 pm); and Sunday, November 20 (10 am–3 pm).

JANUARY 14–April 18, 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 Mexican Print draws from the permanent collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, whose holdings in Mexican prints are one of 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.

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.

APRIL 26–29, 2012 

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, fashion, industrial, landscape, and interior design--to use an artwork from MMoCA’s permanent collection as the point of departure for a new professional project. As with earlier Design MMoCAs, 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, ball gown, kitchen appliance, garden tool, website, or graphic design campaign.


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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