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The exhibition features still life images by Grotenrath and scenes of Holy Hill by Lichtner. These pieces are part of a larger collection recently gifted to the Haggerty by the Kohler Foundation.
Ruth Grotenrath (1912-1988) and Schomer Lichtner (1905-2006) are celebrated as Milwaukee’s “first couple of painting.” They began their careers as WPA muralists, strongly influenced by the Mexican social realists, notably Diego Rivera. Lichtner’s later work shows an interest in modernists such as Matisse and Dufy. He is most well known for his whimsical depictions of ballerinas and Holstein cows. Grotenrath’s work in the 1940s became more colorful and decorative. In the 1950s she began using water-based casein paint to create work inspired by Japanese prints and watercolors.
Interior/Exterior celebrates the prolific and influential careers of Ruth Grotenrath and Schomer Lichtner. Shown side by side, the paintings reveal the couple’s shared interests and individual styles. Lichtner’s expansive exteriors are rendered in expressive, loose brushwork; Grotenrath’s interiors are intimate and orderly. The work of both artists, however, demonstrates a strong interest in color, pattern and nature.