Giuseppe Arcimboldo's "Fire" arrives in Minneapolis in April for an exhibition on the Habsburgs. Credit: Submitted image

Giuseppe Arcimboldo's "Fire" arrives in Minneapolis in April for an exhibition on the Habsburgs. Credit: Submitted image

From Devo to da Vinci, a centennial celebration

Updated: October 20, 2014 - 11:19 am

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts plans to celebrate 100 years in style. Plus: Walker Art Center celebrates 75 years

WHITTIER — The Minneapolis Institute of Arts plans several major exhibitions, a slew of special events and some surprises for art lovers for its 100th-anniversary year in 2015.

Those surprises include three mystery masterpiece paintings on loan from European museums, the first of which will be unveiled in January. Each will be announced just days before it goes on view at the institute.

As for what those paintings might be, no hints were offered by museum Director and President Kaywin Feldman, who previewed the special anniversary year with some of her lead curators in early October. Stay tuned.

The centennial celebration really gets going in February, when “The Habsburgs: Rarely Seen Masterpieces from Europe’s Greatest Dynasty” arrives in Minneapolis from Vienna’s Kunsthistoriches Museum. It includes 93 artworks and artifacts collected by the royal house during its six-century reign in Europe, stretching from the late Middle Ages to the twentieth century.

“The Habsburgs” is organized in three sections covering the early, middle and late stages of the dynasty, each with a tableau of court objects at its center. The displays of arms and armor, precious antiquities and royal finery will be shown alongside major artworks, including paintings by Caravaggio, Titian and Velázquez.

The next two big anniversary exhibitions demonstrate the MIA’s encyclopedic range.

Opening June 18, “Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia” explores the wide-ranging visual art of Mothersbaugh, perhaps better known as a founding member of 1980s art-punk outfit Devo and, later, as a prolific composer for film and television. His Pop Art and comics-influenced paintings, photographs and sculptures will be shown alongside a collection of 30,000 hand-drawn postcards Mothersbaugh has been producing daily for nearly four decades.

Starting just three days later, the institute hosts a rare opportunity to view one of Leonardo da Vinci’s personal notebooks. The 72-page Codex Liecester — currently owned by Bill Gates, who purchased it at auction in 1994 for $30.8 million — dates from the early 1500s and reveals da Vinci’s observations and theories on a variety of scientific topics, from the properties of water to where fossils are found to the composition of the moon.

As the centennial draws to a close next fall, the MIA hosts “Eugène Delacroix and Modernity.” Organized in collaboration with the National Gallery in London, the exhibition explores the impact of the celebrated French artist through a selection of Delacroix’s own artworks and paintings from the Impressionist movement he inspired in the decades after his 1863 death.

The MIA has three Delacroix paintings in its collection courtesy railroad tycoon James J. Hill, one of the institute’s founders. They’ll be paired with works by Van Gogh, Cézanne, Manet and others assembled through loans from about 40 museums in Europe and the U.S.


Minneapolis Institute of Arts 100th Anniversary

WHEN: Through 2015

WHERE: Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2400 3rd Ave. S.

INFO:, 870-3000

This Carmen Herrera sculpture and a painting by Frank Stella both appear in the Walker’s 75th-anniversary exhibition. Submitted image.

Evolving into contemporary

LOWRY HILL — It’s a bit disorienting spotting “Jade Mountain” in the Walker Art Center’s 75th-anniversary exhibition, and not just because the intricately carved boulder is roughly 10 to 20 decades older than most of the museum’s collection.

“Doesn’t this belong at the MIA?” you might think.

Yes, it does, but that jewel of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts’ collection was once owned by Thomas Barlow (T.B.) Walker, the Minnesota lumber baron who, in 1879, opened up part of his Hennepin Avenue home — a salon-style gallery of paintings, antiques and Persian rugs — to the people of Minneapolis. That somehow Walker’s personal collection gradually became one of the nation’s premier modern art museums seems now almost like an act of transubstantiation.

Walker died a decade before the Depression-era Federal Art Project set about establishing art centers across the country, and in 1939 and ’40 what was then called the Walker Art Galleries began its transition into today’s institution. With a gift from the wife of Walker’s son Gilbert, the Walker Art Center in its first decade made signature acquisitions, including Franz Marc’s gorgeous 1911 painting of three blue horses in a primary-colored landscape and Edward Hopper’s noir-toned “Office at Night.”

Those are just two of the 100 artworks curators chose to tell the museum’s story. It’s much more than a greatest-hits collection, blending some of the Walker’s most recognizable pieces, like Chuck Close’s monumental “Big Self-Portrait,” with equally wonderful but lesser-known works, including a 1950’s abstract painting by French-Chinese artist Zao Wou-ki and a rare minimalist sculpture by Carmen Herrera acquired just four years ago.

Executive Director Olga Viso said the exhibition tells the story of how the Walker became “contemporary” and then continued to redefine what it meant to be contemporary as it evolved through the decades. The museum, Viso said, has “re-imagined and reinvented itself several times during its history.”


“Art at the Center: 75 years of Walker Collections”

WHEN: Through Sept. 11

WHERE: Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Ave.

INFO:, 375-7600