Key Milwaukee

December 2013

An A-Z visitors guide to Milwaukee Wisconsin. Sponsored by Key Magazine Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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Thomas Sully exhibition Thomas Sully: Painted Performance is the first retrospective of the artist in 30 years, and the first to present both the artist's portraits and subject pictures. The exhibition continues through Jan. 5, then travels to the San Antonio Museum of Art, Feb. 5–May 11, 2014. highlights dramatic subjects he pursued "The exhibition provides a major new look at one of the most important 19th-century American artists, who expressed his lifelong love of the theatre and literature in paintings," said Daniel Keegan, Milwaukee Art Museum director. "Shakespeare, fairy tales, popular culture, and the movers and shakers and celebrities of nineteenth-century American society are all captured in Sully's work." Sully was born in 1783 and died at 89 in 1872. Painted Performance brings together more than 70 paintings from public and private collections and presents them thematically, in four sections: theatrical portraits of specific actors in a role; traditional portraits shaped by the artist's theatrical and literary imagination; fancy portraits, imaginary portraits as conceits or inspired by whimsy; and fancy pictures, narrative paintings based on literary or artistic sources or the imagination. Sully employed drama, theatricality and a heightened sense of activity to great effect throughout his long career. In some of his grandest fulllength portraits, Sully composed his figures as if they were literally onstage. Even in portraits that seemingly have nothing to do with the formal world of the theatre, his subjects act to directly engage the viewer. The artist brought a similar level of theatricality to his fancy pictures. An important and unexplored category of mid-19th-century American painting, fancy pictures were a special kind of narrative art that targeted viewers' emotions and that often included social commentary. Sully's fancy pictures offer a window into the issues of the day, including questions about gender, race and childhood. The Milwaukee Art Museum houses more than 30,000 works, with strengths in 19th- and 20th-century American and European art, contemporary art, American decorative arts, and folk and self-taught art. The museum campus on the shores of Lake Michigan spans three buildings, including the Santiago Calatrava-designed Quadracci Pavilion and the Eero Saarinen-designed Milwaukee County War Memorial Center. Located at 700 N. Art Museum Dr., the museum is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tues.-Sun., with extended hours until 8 p.m. on Thursdays. General admission, which includes all special exhibitions, is $17 for adults and $14 for students, seniors, and active military. Kids 12 and under are always free. There is no admission charge the first Thursday of every month (excluding groups). Visit for more informatio From top: Frances Anne Kemble as Beatrice, 1833, Oil on canvas, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia. Sarah Esther Hinddman as Little Red Riding Hood, 18333 oil on canvas, The Maryland State Archives. Photo by Harry Connolly. Major Thomas Biddle, 1818 Oil on canvas, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia Cinderella at the Kitchen Fire, 1843 Oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art.

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