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Milwaukee Art Museum Exhibits 'Accidental Genius'

Jan. 23, 2012
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The focus on self-taught art continues with the extraordinary exhibition "Accidental Genius: Art from the Anthony Petullo Collection" at the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) on Feb. 10.

Frenchman Jean Dubuffet described this genre as "Art Brut," art created by those "outside the boundaries of traditional art culture." This genre includes artists working purely from imagination, free from mainstream cultural influences or in solitude. Sometimes these artists live in socially marginal settings, such as prisons or mental institutions.

Petullo, an avid art collector and philanthropist, gifted more than 300 works to the MAM; approximately 200 will be on display. Petullo's collection includes works by a variety of sought-after American and European artists.

In 1972, art critic Roger Cardinal gave this genre the name "Outsider Art." Other categories include "Anti-Art," "Folk Art," "Naïve Art" and "Visionary Art." However, a quick peek at the images and sculptures in the MAM's expansive exhibition reveal this self-taught art to be a wonder of "accidental genius."

One featured artist with a current Milwaukee connection is Minnie Evans (1892-1987), a woman born in North Carolina. Evans, who worked as a gardener and gatekeeper, began illustrating flowers and spiritual visions in 1935. Evans' work inspired the scenic design for Renaissance Theaterworks' latest stage production, Neat. Evans' vibrant images can best be described by a comment she once made: "My whole life has been nothing but dreams."

"Accidental Genius" opens with a members' preview on Thursday, Feb. 9. The MAM hosts a lecture by Anthony Petullo during the public opening, on Friday, Feb. 10, at 1:30 p.m.

Art Happenings

Wisconsin Visual Artists Juried Exhibition

Lynden Sculpture Garden

2145 W. Brown Deer Road

An exhibition by the state organization Wisconsin Visual Artists features work in a wide range of media. The exhibit opens Jan. 31. An artists' reception occurs 3-5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5.

Final Call for Artists—Forward 2012

Charles Allis Art Museum

1801 N. Prospect Ave.

Entries for this prestigious annual exhibition are due by Jan. 31. The exhibit, which surveys great Wisconsin art and offers more than $3,000 in awards, opens March 2. Applications and entry information can be found at www.charlesallis.org.


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