On Friday, August 25, the Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Winconsin, will open Image in Dispute: Dutch & Flemish Art from the Haggerty Museum of Art’s Collection. Curated by Kirk Nickel, PhD, Marc and Lillian Rojtman Consulting Curator of European Art, the exhibition features more than 50 paintings, engravings, and etchings selected from the Haggerty’s holdings of Early Modern art. Read more here.
The Haggerty’s first exhibition of historical Dutch and Flemish art in more than 30 years, Image in Dispute explores how artists in the Low Countries—modern Belgium, Luxembourg, and Netherlands—responded to the extraordinary upheaval experienced in their homeland between 1560 and 1680. Religious difference was an explosive factor during this period, contributing to ongoing tensions and acutely visible in the shocking Iconoclasm of 1566, when members of Reformed communities across the Low Countries “cleansed” Catholic churches by violently removing their sacred images. Over these years, the region transformed from a single political entity into a divided territory comprised of the Spanish Netherlands and the new Dutch Republic. The redefinition of this region and its people entailed decades of intermittent warfare, enormous loss of life, and cycles of economic boom and bust. For many artists, the assault on traditional religious imagery resulted in decades of intense professional, as well as personal, uncertainty.
“As traditions of art-making came under increasing verbal and physical attack, artists began to innovate,” said Nickel, “developing new subjects to accommodate changing beliefs and new pictorial modes that rendered conventional themes with gripping emotion and psychological force.” Indeed, as they looked to produce novel types of images, artists turned to new or seldom-utilized sources, ranging from ancient mythology to Hebrew scripture to the drama of everyday life. At the same time, print media allowed artists’ designs to attain a nearly global reach, often freeing printmakers from the ideological and market constraints of their immediate environments. Nickel continued, “While the art in this exhibition reflects the dire consequences of civil war, it also embodies individuals’ and communities’ efforts to represent and sustain themselves across a century of volatile change.”
As the Haggerty Museum of Art looks toward its 40th anniversary in 2024, the Museum is particularly excited that Image in Dispute will highlight the tremendous generosity of its Milwaukee-based supporters. “This exhibition would be unthinkable without the gifts of art and acquisitions support contributed by numerous donors during the past 75 years,” said Director and Chief Curator Susan Longhenry. “Collecting Dutch and Flemish art has a long history in Milwaukee, and we are enormously grateful for the generosity and foresight of our donors in helping to build this major pillar within our collections of historical art.” In conjunction with the exhibition, the Haggerty is preparing a catalog of selected Dutch and Flemish paintings from its collection, to be published later this fall.
The Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University is an innovative nexus of interdisciplinary learning where creativity, intellect and social justice intersect. Located in the heart of the Near West Side, adjacent to downtown Milwaukee, and open daily, the Museum is one of the most accessible arts venues in the city.