Walker Art Center  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Walker Art Center is a contemporary art center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States. The Walker is considered one of the nation's "big five" museums for modern art along with the Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum and the Hirshhorn.

Contents

Visual Arts

The Visual Arts program is a mix of contemporary, historical, group, monographic, thematic, and media-specific shows. Dozens of artists have had their first major museum exposure in Walker exhibitions, among them Joseph Cornell, Frank Gehry, Julie Mehretu, Mario Merz, and Kara Walker. The Permanent Collection is thoroughly integrated with the institution’s history. After 1958, exhibitions, commissions, and acquisitions were pursued at a much faster pace. As a result, the collections—though they encompass the whole of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries—are strongest after 1960. Working with living artists is a priority during. Many of the works in the collection were exhibited, commissioned, or discovered during studio visits. Some relationships with artists—for example, Matthew Barney, Robert Gober, Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Sherrie Levine, and Claes Oldenburg—have extended over many years and encompassed multiple projects, and the collection often reflects that commitment through deep holdings that follow the shifts and turns of a whole career. In recent years the Walker has begun collecting from groups who have remained outside the traditional artistic canon. These “alternative modernisms” include Japanes Gutai, Viennese Actionism, Italian Arte Povera, and Fluxus, all of which developed during the 1950s and 1960s, and all of which are underrepresented in public collections in the United States.

Performing Arts

The Walker began presenting local dance, poetry, and chamber music concerts in 1940. In 1953, the volunteer-staffed Center Arts Council (CAC) was formed to organize a wider range of performances and film screenings. Out of CAC grew the Center Opera Company (later the Minnesota Opera) in 1963, led by John Ludwig and dedicated primarily to contemporary American opera and unique collaborations between opera and visual artists. By the time it disbanded in 1970, the CAC had already presented Merce Cunningham’s first Minnesota performance (1963) and established its first artist commission, Alwin Nikolais’ Vaudeville of the Elements (1965). Performing Arts was officially designated as a department in 1970.

Throughout the 1970s, the department sponsored events in a range of venues around the Twin Cities, increasing the visibility of contemporary dance, new music, jazz, and experimental theater and hosting an array of pop, rock, and folk concerts. The Walker launched significant program initiatives and established key relationships with a range of artists now considered masters—Cunningham, Mabou Mines, Philip Glass, Twyla Tharp, Meredith Monk, and many others—that continue today.

Film/Video

Widely recognized for presenting a full-range of moving-image art forms, the Walker Art Center’s film and video programs feature both contemporary and historical works. In the 1940s, the Walker identified moving images (mostly movies, but also experimental films) as integral to contemporary life. Artists of that time were experimenting with film’s formal properties, such as light, motion, and sound, while also separating film art from conventional narrative cinema.

In 1973, the Film/Video Department was officially formed and the Edmond R. Ruben Film and Video Study Collection was established, along with an endowment to fund the development of the archive. Ruben, a leading figure in film exhibition in the Upper Midwest, and his wife Evelyn believed in collecting films as a way of preserving the art form. Today, with more than eight hundred fifty titles, the Ruben Collection brings together classic and contemporary cinema as well as documentaries, avant-garde films, and video works by artists. It is distinctive for its holdings by visual artists that range from classics by Salvador Dali, Marcel Duchamp, and Fernand Léger to extensive contemporary work by William Klein, Derek Jarman, Bruce Conner, Marcel Broodthaers, Nam June Paik, and leading experimental artists who challenged the form and content of film, such as Paul Sharits and Stan Brakhage.

Design

The Walker Art Center maintains a professional, in-house design and editorial department to fulfill its various communication needs. The department is responsible for the design and editing of all printed materials, including the creation and planning of publications such as exhibition catalogues, bi-monthly magazines, and books, as well as exhibition and event graphics, signage programs, and promotional campaigns.

Additionally, the department organizes design-related projects and programs, such as lectures, exhibitions, and special commissions. Over the course of its 60-plus year history, the department has organized many important exhibitions on architecture and design, and has served as a vital forum for contemporary design issues, bringing hundreds of world-renowned architects, designers, and critics to the Twin Cities.





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Walker Art Center" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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