Museum PR Announcements News and Information

Madison Museum of Contemporary Art Announces Upcoming Exhibitions and Major Events

A pioneer in the use of LEDs and computer-driven imagery, Leo Villareal is increasingly renowned for his light sculptures and architectural, site-specific works. With more than fifteen sculptures and installations, Leo Villareal is the artist’s first major traveling museum survey. The exhibition was organized by the San Jose Museum of Art.

Because of their scale (works in the exhibition are up to twenty feet wide) and their mesmerizing movement of light and color, the works on view have a profound, immersive quality. The exhibition traces the artist’s career over the past decade, from his earliest experimental sequencing of strobe lights to his recent hypnotic patterning of thousands of pinpoint LEDs. Often inspired by natural phenomenon such as clouds and sunsets, Villareal’s works have been compared to a “holodeck Giverny” (The New York Times), and “fireworks, flashes of lightning, even fireflies” (Art in America).

Leo Villareal is on view in the museum’s main galleries.

The Singing Bird Room of Robert Lostutter surveys the work of one of the leading Chicago artists of recent decades. In over thirty paintings, drawings, prints, and watercolors, the exhibition explores Lostutter’s fantastical world of creatures which are half-man, half-bird.

In the early 1970s, inspired by travel in Mexico and his grandfather’s and great grandfather’s love of birds, Robert Lostutter seized upon a theme that came to define his mature style. A superb draftsman, he began using his exceptional skill to make detailed watercolor paintings of hybrid birdmen. These portraits focus primarily on heads that are masked with the plumage of tropical birds or the leaves and petals of orchids. The elaborate and brilliantly colored feathers are those of mating males; Lostutter thus sexualizes his compelling mutations. Both menacing and radiantly beautiful, Lostutter’s mythic creatures are fusions of animal and human, nature and culture.

All works in The Singing Bird Room of Robert Lostutter date from the late 1960s to the late 1990s, and are from the museum’s permanent collection. The exhibition is drawn from the Bill McClain Collection of Chicago Imagism.

The Singing Bird Room of Robert Lostutter is on view in the museum’s State Street Gallery.

THROUGH MAY 26, 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 Mary Heilmann, Sol LeWitt, 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 is on view in the museum’s Henry Street Gallery.

JANUARY 19-APRIL 28, 2013
Ellsworth Kelly Prints is a major retrospective exhibition of the artist’s achievements in printmaking. For over fifty years, Ellsworth Kelly (b. 1923) has been recognized as a leading American painter and sculptor. His art of emphatic form and vibrant color–lyrical and serenely self-confident–is a finely wrought distillation of observed shapes in nature. Kelly has also been an ambitious printmaker, deploying his dynamic geometry of squared, angled, and curved forms to great effect in his graphic editions.

Since the early 1960s, Kelly has created over 330 editions, over one hundred of which are represented in the exhibition. Although he has explored intaglio and screenprinting methods, lithography is his medium of choice for both his abstract works and his prints of botanical subjects. No less than his paintings and sculptures, Kelly’s prints have their own distinctive voice. They register equally important aspects of his vision: intimacy, delicacy, and ethereality. Integral to the artist’s vision as a whole, they bear witness to Kelly’s commitment to the phenomenal world.

Ellsworth Kelly Prints includes more than 100 prints drawn from the collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer and his family foundation. Now traveling in a national tour, it coincides with the publication of The Prints of Ellsworth Kelly, an updated and revised catalogue raisonné of the artist’s prints, prepared by Richard H. Axsom, curator at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.

Ellsworth Kelly Prints will be on view in the museum’s main galleries.

JANUARY 19-MARCH 31, 2013
Where color in art is freed from describing the objective world or telling a story, the experience of pure color itself becomes the subject. As an adjunct to MMoCA’s exhibition of prints by the great colorist Ellsworth Kelly, The Force of Color addresses the role of strong color in modern and contemporary abstraction.

Artists manifest their interest in bold color through both spontaneous forms and geometric shapes. The Force of Color presents a wide spectrum of approaches to color, from impressionistic splashes of vibrant color to simple, precise geometric abstraction to the playful opticality of Op art.

As an approach to abstraction, the force of color as an underlying aesthetic has continued into the twenty-first century. Although works on view in The Force of Color date from 1968 to 2009, the majority of artists represented came to the fore during the 1960s, including, among others, Gene Davis, Sam Gilliam, Sol LeWitt, Robert Mangold, Jules Olitski, Ray Parker, Bridget Riley, Frank Stella, and Victor Vasarely. All works in the exhibition are from the permanent collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.

The Force of Color will be on view in the museum’s State Street Gallery

APRIL 14-MAY 19, 2013
Children who receive high-quality art education develop visual literacy and creative problem-solving skills that are vital for succeeding in today’s world. Presenting works of art by Madison Metropolitan School District students in kindergarten through grade twelve, Young at Art highlights the high caliber of studio art instruction in Madison’s public schools as well as the integration of art history and cultural studies in the visual art curriculum.

Organized biennially, Young at Art is the result of a long-standing collaboration between the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art and the school district’s fine arts department. Madison’s public school art teachers select works of art for the exhibition; each teacher is invited to submit up to three works of art for display. To reflect best practices in art education, the exhibition includes works made by individual students and by groups of students who have worked collaboratively. As a whole, Young at Art demonstrates students’ imagination and talent and calls attention to their expressive potential.

Young at Art will be on view in the museum’s State Street Gallery

APRIL 25, 2013
Hair Affair: The Art of Hair will showcase no-holds-barred hair sculptures designed and executed by premier Madison-area salons. Hair sculptures displayed on live models will take center-stage in a runway show in the museum’s stunning lobby and glass staircase. The evening event will also feature a live DJ, seasonal hors d’oeuvres from Fresco, cocktails, and a silent auction.

Hair Affair is a fundraiser for the free exhibition and education programs of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.

MAY 3, 2013
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 3, 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

MAY 18-SEPTEMBER 1, 2013
Photography has its beginnings in France and England during the third and fourth decades of the nineteenth century. The United States quickly played a critical role in the history of the medium. By the early twentieth century, the photographic image became a primary vehicle for visual communication in America. Photographs were common in such varied forms as the tabloid press, family snapshots, magazines, postcards, scientific documentation, and the fine arts.

Focal Points: American Photography Since 1950 looks at ways in which fine art photography has examined American identity. Organized thematically, interweaving the traditions of both modern and contemporary photography, the exhibition is divided into seven sections: American Roads, The Body, City and Suburb, Fantasy, Nature, Rural America, and We the People.

This major exhibition presents over 100 works by Diane Arbus, Cecilia Condit, John Coplans, Vernon Fisher, Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, Martin Kersels, O. Winston Link, Robert Mapplethorpe, Duane Michaels, Eva Rubinstein, Cindy Sherman, Aaron Siskind, Alec Soth, Minor White, Garry Winogrand, and Ida Wyman, among others.

Focal Points: American Photography Since 1950 will be on view in the museum’s main galleries.

The narrative paintings of Leslie Smith III employ abstraction to communicate stories about the human experience. A classically trained painter, Smith nevertheless embraces the ambiguities of a more expressionist-based practice, creating works that affect the viewer on a visceral level. Bold colors activate his large-scale canvases, and shapes oscillate between amorphous forms and representational objects. He uses images broken down to their most basic components to build a personal lexicon of symbols and characters that obliquely reference both socio-political and personal struggles.

The paintings on view in Leslie Smith III thoughtfully explore power relationships, while also articulating the nature of fear, anxiety, and trauma. Rounded shapes often act as stand-ins for human figures, their curved form mimicking the contours of an arched window. These hunched figures and interior windows occupy an uncertain, mysterious space reminiscent of di Chirico’s empty, surrealist plazas. And, while Smith’s iconography recalls the cartoon-like distortions of Philip Guston’s later figurative work, his paintings also function as a point of departure for a broader discussion about violence, intimacy, and the psychology of suggestion.

Leslie Smith III was born and raised in Washington, D.C., and studied art at Yale. He is an assistant professor of painting and drawing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s art department.

Leslie Smith III will be on view in the museum’s State Street Gallery.

JUNE 7, 2013-JUNE 2014
Following the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920), modern art enjoyed a vital period of artistic achievement. Mexico City was its hub and played host to an international gathering of artists. The presence of these artists created a cosmopolitan atmosphere comparable to the excitement generated by the international avant-garde in Paris between World Wars I and II. However, Mexican painters, photographers, and printmakers dominated the art scene.

Los Grandes del Arte Moderno Mexicano showcases the most important of these artists in an exhibition that puts Mexican modern art in a world context for acknowledgment and celebration. All works—paintings, prints, and photographs—are drawn from the permanent collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Selected artists include Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Frida Kahlo, Leopoldo Mendez, José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, David Siqueiros, and Rufino Tamayo.

Mexican modernism reflected a search in other western countries for a realist art that championed social reform and national identity. It also embraced the most important avant-garde movements in Europe: Expressionism and Surrealism. Mexico found itself center stage to be recognized internationally for its achievements in the fine arts.

Los Grandes del Arte Moderno Mexicano will be on view on the museum’s Henry Street Gallery.

JULY 13-14, 2013
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.

Dates and hours for Art Fair on the Square 2013 are: Saturday, July 13 (9 am–6 pm) and Sunday, July 14 (10 am–5 pm).

SEPTEMBER 21, 2013-JANUARY 5, 2014
Widely regarded as the state’s most prestigious showcase of contemporary Wisconsin visual art, the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art’s Wisconsin Triennial returns in 2013. The Triennial invites any active Wisconsin artist, including university students, to apply. Through a two-tiered process of image evaluation and studio visits, the curatorial team selects works from a broad range of applicants to represent current directions in Wisconsin visual art.

In 2013, a new Triennial website will expand learning opportunities for museum visitors, while also making the exhibition accessible to those who cannot come to Madison. Visitors to the Triennial site can enjoy the following features:

• A complete catalog of the exhibition, showing each artwork, including time-based media.

• A page dedicated to each artist with written commentary by MMoCA’s curatorial team. In addition, artists will be invited to submit information and still or video images of themselves or their studios.

• Content from the exhibition’s cell phone audio tour and images of installation processes.

• A virtual tour of the entire exhibition with commentary by an MMoCA curator.

The 2013 Wisconsin Triennial will be on view in the museum’s main galleries, State Street Gallery, New Media Gallery, and lobby.

NOVEMBER 9, 2013
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 22-24, 2013
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 live auction, and the return of the Rediscovered Art & Treasures Sale.

Holiday Art Fair is a fundraiser for the free exhibitions and education programs of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.

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 more than 5,000 works.

Exhibitions at MMoCA are free and open to the public. All advance information is subject to change; please check the museum’s website ( for updates.