The Walker 75th Anniversary exhibition seeks to answer the question of how art can remain relevant in a changing time. How does modern art continue to comment on our past and our future? Philosophical questions aside, the exhibit also seeks to remind patrons of the history of the Walker Art Center’s past, but also seeks to understand where it is headed in the future.
The exhibit reminds people of the Walker’s inception as a public art space in 1927. Thomas Walker Barlow, who became rich off of lumber, created a private collection, as well as funded the building of numerous libraries in Minneapolis. While his gallery was in his home, individuals were able to ring at the front door for access. In time, he wanted to create a public art space. Though Minneapolis was reticent to help Walker Barlow build; through his perseverance the Walker was then established in 1927.
As part of the exhibit, the historical documents that established the Walker are on display. These pieces are housed in a gallery space that hints at the origins of the Walker space and remind an observer of the cluttered smorgasbord of early twentieth century private art galleries with floor to ceiling paintings and numerous curios and sculptures on display. Many of Walker Barlow’s pieces were sold off to other institutions, including the United Methodist Church on Hennepin Avenue. A familiar carved jade piece, Jade Mountain (1784), is on loan from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
In the space, some of the Walker’s most famous pieces of early modern art are on display, and will be for the next two years. Franz Marc’s The Large Blue Horses (1911) is featured, as well as newspaper articles on how Adolf Hitler considered the avant-garde piece degenerate. Edward Hopper’s Office at Night (1940) and Chuck Close’s Big Self Portrait (1967-1968) are also on display.
The exhibit runs through September 11, 2016.