UWM Art Collection gets new home

Renovated UWM gallery opens with exhibit featuring Picasso, Rembrandt, Degas

MILWAUKEE _ The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee will celebrate the opening of the new Emile H. Mathis Gallery with an exhibit featuring some of the UWM Art Collection’s most prominent works, including pieces by Picasso, Rembrandt and Degas.

The exhibit will open on Dec. 14 with a public reception from 5 to 7 p.m. at the gallery, located in Mitchell Hall, Room 170. The gallery is open to the public when exhibits are on display, and admission is free.

Housed in the newly renovated space of the former UWM Art History Gallery, the Emile H. Mathis Gallery is a state-of-the-art facility with 2,400 square feet of exhibition space and additional storage space to house the ever-expanding UWM Art Collection. The gallery was constructed with a generous multimillion dollar donation from art connoisseur, collector and dealer Emile H. Mathis II.

The gallery’s inaugural exhibit, “Legacies: ReVisioning the UWM Art Collection,” will feature several prominent works from the collection. Premier pieces to be featured include:

  • Edgar Degas, “Dancer,” c. 1880
  • Rembrandt van Rijn, “Self Portrait in Velvet Cap with Plume,” 1638
  • Pablo Picasso, “Still Life with Caged Owl,” 1947
  • Georges Braque, “Still Life with Music,” 1962
  • Joan Miró, “Woman and Bird in the Night,” 1944

Other notable artists featured in the exhibition include Pierre Auguste Renoir, Robert Rauschenberg, Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Jim Dine, Christo and James Abbott McNeill Whistler.

Gallery director Linda Brazeau and Derek Counts, chair of the Art History department (which is the steward of the UWM Art Collection and galleries), will give a welcome and brief introduction to the exhibition at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 14.

“We are immensely proud to showcase the university’s extensive art collection in such a beautiful space,” said Dave Clark, interim dean of UWM’s College of Letters & Science, which houses the Art History department. “The Emile H. Mathis Gallery is not only an excellent teaching tool for our students, but also a great community resource for all of Milwaukee. Emile’s gift will enrich the university and the city for years to come.”

All of the art featured in the inaugural exhibition was donated to the UWM Art Collection. Twenty-three of the exhibition’s works were donated by Mathis, who passed away on July 15, 2012. Mathis donated his extensive collection to the UWM Art Collection, including more than 1,700 prints spanning 500 years and more than 600 pieces of African art from the 19th and 20th centuries. It was his hope that the university would use his prized collection for teaching and display for years. A private preview of the opening show, hosted by Chancellor Mark Mone and interim dean Clark, will be held Dec. 11 for Mathis’ friends and family, donors and other Friends of Art History.

In an interview shortly before his death, Mathis said: “The thing that really excites me is that it’s going to be used as a hands-on collection. Had I had those opportunities in college or university … wow.”

Note: Media are invited to cover either reception. If you plan to do so, please RSVP to Deanna Alba at dsalba@uwm.edu or 414-229-2923.