Milwaukee Art Museum’s “Van Gogh to Pollock: Modern Rebels” (through Sept. 20) presents a string of great modern masterpieces.
We take in Paul Gauguin’s fabled Spirit of the Dead Watching (1892), Frida Kahlo’s Self Portrait with Monkey (1938), and finally, the cataclysm of Robert Motherwell’s Elegy to the Spanish Republic XXXIV (1953-54). An even more rewarding way to traverse these steamy rooms is to listen for the many restless conversations between things. Jackson Pollock’s magnificent Convergence (1952) faces his wife Lee Krasner’s more restrained Milkweed (1955). On a nearby wall, Chaïm Soutine takes us into the heart of darkness with show-stopping Carcass of Beef (1925).
One can clearly see how the fury of expressive painting grew from the aftermath of two world wars like fields of weeping flowers.