Is it Art or Play? Museum-Goers Decide At These Exhibitions

A happy boy with paint all over his hands.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

What does play have to do with creating some serious art? Well, a whole lot, according to The Art Newspaper’s article, “Playtime: How Artists Have Been Unleashing Their Inner Child This Summer.”

Multiple exhibitions are now exploring the link between recreational fun and creativity. One such exhibition, titled, “Serious Play: Design in Mid-century America,” will debut at the Milwaukee Art Museum on Sept. 28, 2018, and run through Jan. 2019.

“They effectively blurred the boundaries between their work and whimsy,” said Darrin Alfred, co-curator of “Serious Play.”

The Milwaukee exhibition will explore how growing Cold War anxieties and an increased interest in child development intermingled during the postwar era. It will feature over 200 artworks, from ceramics and toys to drawings and textiles. The exhibition will also include a children’s hands-on exhibit, such as a toy building system that was developed in the 1940s.

Another exhibition taking a “serious” look at play is “The Playground Project,” at The Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn, Germany. Is it a playground, or is it art? Museum-goers have a hard time deciding. Beyond paintings and photographs depicting the history of play, the summer exhibition features Lego-building areas, ping-pong tables, skateboards, and even karaoke. The installations were created by 18 different artists. The indoor section was curated by Gabriela Burkhalter, a Swiss political scientist, city planner, and playground expert. The outdoor section was curated by Susanne Kleine.

One of the most popular installations at the exhibition is Michel Majeru’s massive skateboard ramp that was hand-stenciled. However, art-goers can only read the writing from the museum’s rooftop garden. The fun and games at the German museum won’t last for long, as the exhibition will close after Oct. 28, 2018. However, artist Höller built an instillation too loved by the museum to be taken down—a giant slide that allows visitors to fly past the face of the building.



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