MINNEAPOLIS, September 22 2014—In the year 2015, the Walker Art Center will
celebrate the 75th anniversary of its founding as a public art center with a series of
WALKER@75 exhibitions and programs beginning with Art at the Center: 75 Years of
Walker Collections. The exhibition launches October 16, 2014 with an opening-night party and weekend-long Walktoberfest celebration. Curated by the Walker’s executive director Olga Viso and guest curator Joan Rothfuss, the exhibition looks at 75 years of
collecting at the Walker—a history distinguished by bold and often prescient
acquisitions that challenge prevailing artistic conventions and examine the social and
political conditions of the day. Many of the works collected breach the boundaries of
media and disciplines and reflect the Walker’s multidisciplinary programming, which
includes film and video, design, visual art and performing arts. Art at the Center also
traces how the collection was shaped by the respective visions and collecting
philosophies of its five directors as well as the generosity of the Walker family and key
patrons. On view through September 11, 2016, the exhibition will present many iconic
works from the collection, including Edward Hopper’s Office at Night (1940), Franz
Marc’s The Large Blue Horses (1911), Chuck Close’s Big Self Portrait (1967-68), Yves
Klein’s Mondo Cane Shroud (1961), Kerry James Marshall’s Gulf Stream (2003), and
Goshka Macuga’s Lost Forty (2011).
Selected art works will be contextualized with materials—historic photos, artists’
books, correspondence, models and maquettes, and other ephemera—drawn from the
institution’s rich archives. The galleries will also feature “Time Capsule” spaces that will
focus on particular projects and key moments in the Walker’s history that reach
beyond the collections, such as the pioneering Design Quarterly publication, the Regis
Dialogues series with renowned filmmakers, and the early years of the Walker’s
acclaimed performing arts program. These displays have been curated by Jill Vuchetich,
Head of Archives and Library; Andrew Blauvelt, Senior Curator of Research, Design and Publications; and Mia Lopez, Curatorial Fellow for Visual Arts.
Gallery 4, 1940-1960
Steered by the Walker Art Center’s first director Daniel Defenbacher, with the support
of the T.B. Walker Foundation and the Gilbert M. Walker Fund, the Center added 148
works to the collection during its first decade, including signature paintings by Franz
Marc, Edward Hopper, and Lyonel Feininger that remain masterworks of the Walker’s
collections and will be on view in this gallery. The collection expanded further under the
Walker’s second director H. Harvard Arnason, a respected art historian who held a dual
teaching position at the University of Minnesota. Throughout the 1950s, 247 paintings
and sculptures by important American and European modernists were added, as well as
works that diversified the Center’s holdings, most notably paintings by African American
artist Jacob Lawrence, Chinese abstractionist Zao Wou-ki, and Mexican muralist Rufino
This gallery will include a Time Capsule room that explores the history of the T.B. Walker
family collection through vintage photographs, drawings, documents, and a short newsreel from 1927. In addition, thanks to a special loan from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the spectacular Jade Mountain (1784) will be on view in this space. Originally owned by T.B. Walker, the carving is now in the collection of the MIA.
Gallery 5, 1960-1980
The Walker’s third director, Martin Friedman, who led the organization between 1961 and 1990, fearlessly championed the support of new art and artists. Notoriously open to the unexpected directions in which artists would lead him, Friedman redefined the Walker’s collecting priorities to focus squarely on the art of our time. Mounting exhibitions as a cornerstone for collecting, he added key works by emerging artists associated with the Pop and Minimalist art movements of the 1960s, including Andy Warhol, Chuck Close, Claes Oldenburg, Donald Judd, and Sol Lewitt. Examples of work by all of these artists, as well as Robert Rauschenberg, Agnes Martin, Robert Morris, and Robert Indiana, will be on view in this gallery. Many of these works were acquired within a year or two of their making and supported by funds contributed by the Walker family and a growing group of donors and collectors.
As the Walker expanded its mission and program throughout the 1970s, adding the
departments of performing arts in 1970 and film/video in 1973, an impressive array of
multimedia artists were invited to produce new works, including Trisha Brown, John
Cage, Merce Cunningham, Nam June Paik, and Allan Kaprow. This fertile period of
artistic experimentation is highlighted in the concurrent exhibition Art Expanded, 1958-
78, also drawn from the Walker’s diverse collections and archives. The Center’s
commitment to exploring new ideas in architecture and graphic design is represented in
this gallery’s Time Capsule, which focuses on the journal Design Quarterly.
In 1971, the Walker opened its doors in a new facility designed by Edward Larrabee
Barnes. The following decades ushered in a new emphasis on the commission of largescale
installations, including Sam Gilliam’s colorful drop canvas (on view in the Cargill
Lounge) and works for the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, which opened in 1988. Before
his retirement in 1990, Friedman enhanced the purchasing power of the Walker’s
acquisition funds through the historic de-accession of 19th century paintings that had
formed part of T.B. Walker’s original collection. The sale of works outside the scope of
the Walker’s mission would inaugurate a period of unprecedented collection growth in
the coming decades.
Gallery 6, 1990-2014
The Walker’s fourth director, Kathy Halbreich, who led the institution from 1991-2007,
launched an ambitious effort to diversify the Walker’s primarily American holdings by
collecting globally and reaffirming the center’s founding W.P.A. era commitment to
wide public participation and inclusion. Halbreich advocated a vision of the Walker as a
multifaceted platform for art making that not only provided a supportive place for
artists to test and explore new ideas but also a safe environment for diverse audiences
to be exposed to alternative ways of thinking and engaging the world.
Recognizing the unique shape and character of the Walker’s collections, both in its
multidisciplinary focus and depth in the careers of individual artists, Halbreich advanced
a collecting philosophy that supported the acquisition of adventurous new art by artists
around the globe as well as works by individuals and artistic movements that did not fall
easily within the prevailing western art historical canon. The commitment to collecting
“alternative modernisms” throughout the 1990s resulted in the acquisition of over
2,500 works, including artists associated with the Japanese Gutai movement, Viennese
Actionism, Italian Arte Povera, and Fluxus of the 1950s and 60s. (A selection of these
works will be on view in Gallery 5.)
Inserting the voices of female artists into the history of the 1960s and 70s was also a
priority for Halbreich, as was collecting the works of artists who examined issues of race
and identity. This gallery will feature works by Robert Gober, Adrian Piper, Glenn Ligon,
and Cindy Sherman, among others, whose art has been collected in depth at the Walker.
The Center’s performing arts department, which during these years presented
controversial artists such as Ron Athey, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, and Coco Fusco, is the
focus of this gallery’s Time Capsule.
Burnet Gallery, Art at the Center: Recent Acquisitions
October 16, 2014 – July 5, 2015
Art at the Center extends into the Burnet Gallery with Recent Acquisitions, on view
October 16, 2014 through July 5, 2015. As a center for contemporary art and culture
that has been devoted to the present since its founding in 1940, the Walker frequently
re-evaluates its mission and collecting focus. Over the last decade, the Walker has
begun increasingly to acquire art that breaches the boundaries of media or disciplines.
This priority is born of the Walker’s platform as a multidisciplinary art center with one of
the largest performing arts commissioning and presenting programs in the nation, a
prominent cinema and moving image collection, and a respected exhibition program.
The commitment to new modes of production reflects the seismic shifts that have been
taking place in contemporary culture today: recent generations of artists are simply not
interested in working in singular media or advancing prescribed sets of ideas or
approaches. Many artists have chosen to abandon media-specific affiliations altogether
in favor of experimenting across platforms.
The focus on cross-disciplinary collaboration and experimentation has been a key
emphasis of the Walker’s fifth director, Olga Viso, who joined the Walker in 2008.
During her tenure, Walker curators have taken the lead in advancing some of the most
adventuresome acquisitions by makers locally and across the globe, including the
immersive sound installation by Cairo-based multimedia artist Hassan Khan and a
performance-based video by St. Paul-based artist Chris Larson, which are highlighted
In 2011, the Walker’s commitment to cross-disciplinary collecting was affirmed by the
acquisition of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company Collection, which comprises
more than 3,500 props, drops, costumes, and set pieces created between 1954 and
2010. These holdings will be an ongoing focus of research, publication and exhibition as
the Walker continues to position itself as a global center for research and scholarship
around the nexus between art forms. A selection of objects from the Cunningham
Archive will be on view in this gallery.
Walker Art Center Collections by the Numbers
The Walker’s collections are as complex and nuanced as contemporary art making itself.
They comprise several categories:
– Visual Arts Permanent Collection, which includes 13,000 objects of painting, sculpture,
photography, works on paper, and multimedia objects and installations
– Ruben/Bentson Film and Video Study Collection of nearly 1,000 titles
– Merce Cunningham Dance Company Collection of more than 3,000 props, drops,
costumes, and set pieces created between 1954 and 2010
– A virtual collection of internet-based commissions
– More than 200 performing arts commissions
– An extensive library with over 2,000 artist books
– Archives with hundreds of thousands of images, documents, and recordings
Exhibition curators: Olga Viso and Joan Rothfuss, with Andrew Blauvelt, Jill Vuchetich, and Mia Lopez.
WALKER@75 RELATED EVENTS
Art at the Center: Opening-Night Party
Thursday, October 16, 5 – 10 pm FREE
Join us for an evening of festivities, frolic, and nonstop fun in celebration of our momentous 75th anniversary. Get together on opening night of Art at the Center: 75 Years of Walker Collections for a mix of unique art-related activities. Walker members can enjoy a free drink on the house!
Walktoberfest: Celebrating the Walker’s 75th Anniversary
Thursday, October 16, 10 am – 10 pm
Friday, October 17, 10 am – 10 pm
Saturday, October 18, 10 am – 10 pm
Sunday, October 19, 10 am – 5 pm
The Walker Art Center opens its doors with extended hours and free gallery admission for all to celebrate its 75th anniversary as a public art center. Enjoy nonstop activities throughout the weekend, including the opening of the exhibition Art at the Center: 75 Years of Walker Collections. Celebrate the history of cinema with free screenings of films from the Ruben/Bentson Collection. The Grove at Open Field features a beer garden with local brews, bites, and music all weekend long.
Free Access & Longer Hours
Take in all the art you can handle. With extended hours and free gallery admission for all, there’s plenty of time to explore all four major shows. (Thursday–Saturday, 10 am–10 pm; Sunday, 10 am–5 pm)
Suds & Sounds
Enjoy local craft beer (and root beer) with festival fare as you listen to live music and DJs at the Walker’s very own beer garden. (All weekend long) Thursday: DJ Christy Hunt, cameo by the Jack Brass Band. Friday: DJ Jake Rudh, cameo by Tropical Depression. Saturday: DJ Paper Tiger, cameo by Southwire.
Free Family Fun
What kind of creative kid are you? Kids and grown-ups explore their creative side with family activities, artist-led projects, and art-making inspired by the Walker’s collections. (Friday–Sunday, 10 am–4 pm)
Be Part of Walker History with Our Selfie Station
What is your most vivid Walker memory? Help us look back by adding your voice and pictures to the Walker People’s Archive (WPA). At the Selfie Station, snapworthy settings and props in the gallery set the scene for time-traveling photos. Take Walker
Art at the Center: 75 Years of Walker Collections _6
history into your own hands! (All weekend long)
Walker People’s Archive
What is your most vivid Walker memory? Help us look back at the museum’s 75 years by adding your voice and photos to the Walker People’s Archive (WPA). Throughout the weekend, we’ll show you how. On Thursday night from 7 to 9 pm, have your party picture taken by our New Deal–era photographer. Head into the galleries with a WPA-inspired scavenger hunt, and share your snapshots with #OurWalker. Visit online at walkerart.org/wpa. (All weekend long)
75 Gifts for 75 Years
February 5, 2015 – August 2, 2015
Target and Friedman Galleries
The exhibition 75 Gifts for 75 Years focuses on the significant impact that gifts of art have made on the collection through its history on the occasion of the Walker’s 75th anniversary. While the Walker has always made important purchases of art, often acquiring the work of artists early in their careers, this activity alone could not have built the museum’s collection into the preeminent repository of contemporary art that it is today. As institutions struggle to compete in today’s global art market, the Walker is more indebted than ever to the donors who have helped to strengthen its holdings. 75 Gifts for 75 Years features a range of key gifts through the decades that have broadened the scope of the Walker’s collections by artists such as Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Joan Mitchell, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Ellsworth Kelly, Donald Judd, Gerhard Richter, and Vija Celmins. These will be accompanied by a broad range of more recent gifts that have come to the Walker on the occasion of its 75th anniversary—by such artists as Siah Armajani, Tauba Auerbach, David Hockney, Dianna Molzan, Frank Stella, Kara Walker, and many more.
This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.
Walktoberfest is made possible by generous support from Martha and Bruce Atwater.
Art at the Center: 75 Years of Walker Collections is sponsored by Target.
Major support for the exhibition is provided by Elizabeth Redleaf. Additional support provided by Ann Birks. Media partner Mpls.St.Paul Magazine.