Through January 27, 2019, see selections of Dick Blau’s family photography from his Thicker Than Water series in the Haggerty Museum’s The Nohl Fellowship at 15 exhibit. Blau is one of 96 individual artists, most from the greater Milwaukee area, who have received a Nohl fellowship in the award’s first 15 years. The Greater Milwaukee Foundation administers the Nohl fellowships, which are funded with part of a bequest from Fox Point artist Mary L. Nohl (1914-2001). Nohl is known nationally for the art environment she created on her property on the shores of Lake Michigan.
“Since the 70s, artists like Nan Goldin, Dick Blau and Robert Mapplethorpe have used photography to challenge our cultural ambivalence towards images of children. Their project has been to overthrow the 18th-century Romantic idealisation of childhood in art, which fetishised children for what they were not: not sexual, not knowing, not polluted by adult experience, and, in so doing, to challenge the viewers’ interior sense of what childhood ought to look like.” Libby Brooks, guardian.co.uk, July 2012
In his book-in-progress, Thicker Than Water, Blau explores two major relationships through a set of individual portraits and a series of domestic scenes. In these photographs, he looks at both the ordinary and the extraordinary aspects of family life. Love, ambivalence, and pleasure; dailiness, conflict, and drama; the birth and growth of children, the death of a marriage: all this unfolds in his photographs as he negotiates the complicated terrain of feeling in family life.