Image in Dispute: Dutch & Flemish Art from the Haggerty Museum of Art's Collection

August 25, 2023 – May 12, 2024

Images have a special ability to aid the formation of communities. From national flags to pilgrimage shrines to bumper stickers, images can draw people together for a shared experience and a common cause. But what if some feel that the appeal of images interferes with the community’s spiritual well-being? And what if not everyone agrees?

The question of art’s role in the devotional lives of European Christians took a dramatic turn in 1566, when groups of reform-minded citizens destroyed sacred images in churches throughout the Low Countries (modern Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg). The religious and political debates that followed not only led to the creation of the Dutch Republic but also transformed the professional expectations for artists working in both Catholic- and Protestant-controlled territories. Religious artworks took on new dimensions in their psychological complexity and their address to viewers’ sensory and emotive responses. At the same time, themes that previously had been less prized, such as landscape and portraiture, came to new prominence. This exhibition draws from the Haggerty’s own collection of Dutch and Flemish art to explore artists’ innovative responses to the changes reshaping community identity in the Low Countries between 1560 and 1675.

This exhibition was curated by Kirk Nickel, PhD, Marc and Lillian Rojtman Consulting Curator of European Art.

This exhibition is presented through generous support from Contributing Sponsor Dr. Mary Anne Siderits.

Additional support is provided by the Stackner Family Endowment Fund, and in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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