MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) — A new special exhibit is now taking over at the Warehouse Art Museum in Milwaukee.
“He is one of the major artists in the world today. People compare him to Picasso, to DaVinci, for his know-how, his inventiveness, his sense of humor”, says John Shannon, collector of art and founder of Milwaukee’s Warehouse Art. Museum on the works of William Kentridge.
Kentridge was born in 1955 in South Africa and became known for his work in different mediums.
“We have works that you can’t see anywhere else,” said Shannon, who along with his wife runs the city’s only independent contemporary museum.
“We have well over 100 pieces from Kentridge. There are 97 on display. All but one of the pieces are part of our collection,” Shannon said.
The aptly named See for Yourself exhibit spans decades of art across multiple platforms.
“There are things that are very old, artists sometimes cover things they did many years ago, but there are also pieces in the show that were done in 2022,” Shannon said. .
Kentridge grew up in South Africa under strict apartheid law. His parents were both lawyers handling high-profile cases like that of former President Nelson Mandela.
“His sense of justice, of injustice, was something he grew up with and lived with,” Shannon said.
This is what Shannon says drew him to Kentridge’s art, its reflection of struggle and humanity.
“There’s an expression he has: making art, making sense,” Shannon said. “Kentridge works a lot on issues and has been from the beginning about how to live a good life, a decent life, in a world that makes it very difficult to live that way.”
Some pieces hide a darker message in a simple image.
“He takes something quite common and he sees the unusual in it. The deepest meaning,” Shannon said.
Some of the pieces are self-portraits or family portraits. Others have recurring images of typewriters and rotary telephones.
“When you walk into this space, the museum, it’s almost like walking into his studio,” Shannon said of one of the exhibit’s recreations.
Among the works of art are the addition of touch stations and interactive installations that are not original works by Kentridge, but props to insert the visitor into his world.
“Usually when you walk into a museum, they say, don’t touch, don’t do this, don’t do that. We encourage people to touch certain things,” Shannon said.
The Shannons say they’ve dreamed of sharing their Kentridge collection for years and this opportunity has been deeply touching.
“He’s a man of ideas that apply to our world, and that would be insane…It would be selfish to keep that to ourselves and not share it,” Shannon said.
L’Entrepôt is a private art museum and research center specializing in modern and contemporary art that opened to the public in 2018. L’Entrepôt is free and open to the public Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.