The University of Minnesota was the lucky recipient of a very large legacy from Frederick R. Weisman, a native Minnesotan who moved to California and married the sister of billionaire Norton Simon, made billions of dollars himself in multiple businesses (the man had the Midas touch), amassed a huge modern art collection, and gave most of it away.
The part given to the University of Minnesota is housed in a museum designed by the renowned architect Frank Gehry, and with its stainless steel-coated twisting and turning exterior, it reminds me a lot of the Gehry-designed Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles:
Neither can I, but I love it anyway.
The museum has a lovely setting alongside the river with a great view of downtown Minneapolis:
The angular, airy foyer introduces the museum well:
On the far wall opposite the entrance is this shimmering landscape made of 36,000 plastic sequins by American/British artist Richard Barlow and entitled Pixelated Bromide (2012):
Barlow was fascinated by the classic photograph below, Trees and Reflections, an 1842 image created by William Talbot of Great Britain. Originally, Barlow was interested in the process used to create this photo, but then he realized that his connection to it was through a JPEG file, which made him think about the fact that the pixel is now the basic building block of photography, which realization led to his re-creation of the image using tiny plastic discs.
The third piece in the opening foyer is Moutons (Sheep) (1970s) by realist Francois-Xavier Lalanne, a Frenchman, who declared that "the supreme art is the art of living" (not that the quote has anything to do with these sheep):
Note the reflections in the steel arch below. It is named The Sound Between the Light (2015) and was created by American artist Andrea Stanislav. Look again and you'll see a taxidermied white peacock perched atop the arch. What is it doing there? I have no idea.
The Fruit Tree (about 1930) by American painter Paul H. Winchell has puzzled thousands of critics. Very little is known about either the artist or the painting. The information card next to the painting reads, "This mysterious painting is undoubtedly full of meaning, if only we knew what it was [the way I feel about a lot of art]. . . . It includes an incongruous lineup of characters from children to an elegant couple to workers to a tap dancer."
I was drawn to this painting, Two Heads with Yellow Background (1928-1929) by Alfred Maurer, who often painted double portraits like this one. The museum's label asks, "Are these girls twins? Are they mirror reflections of the same person? Do they represent a psychological portrait--a split personality?"
My favorite of the African etchings, also by Azaria Mbatha, is this Nativity (1962-79). Again, the story reads from right to left, with an obviously pregnant Mary traveling with Joseph on the right, a much thinner Mary admiring her baby in the center, and the approach of the three wisemen on the left. Note the cow and sheep on the roof of the stable, traditionally the place for angels: