Currently reading : Amund Dietzel exhibition at the Milwaukee Art Museum
A late reminder to say that the incredibly exciting looking exhibition Tattoo: Flash Art of Amund Dietzel closes next week on the 13th of October at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Dietzel can only be referred to in legendary terms for his expansive influence on tattooing. His beautifully refined flash paintings are having some what of a renaissance with contemporary traditional tattooers who are currently reapplying his iconic and sometimes bizarre flash paintings on to new skin.
Celebrating 100 years since Dietzel’s arrival in Milwaukee, where at twenty three years old as a Norwegian merchant shipper he opened his first shop surpassing time and inlaying the skin of residents of the city through two world wars and up until 1963.
It is interesting that a museum as seemingly traditional as Milwaukee’s has taken time and effort to dedicate an exhibition to a tattoo artist.Dietzel is considered the king of the Americana style so choosing him seems like no place to go wrong. Usually exhibitions about body modifications are focused through themes or subjects and study the cultures of tattoo practice on an ethnographic level. Curating a show meant for the public about one individual tattooer shows us just how popular tattooing has become.
Tattooing was banned in Milwaukee from 1967 until 1998 and the exhibition has been curated in conjunction with Harley Davidson’s 110th anniversary celebration in the city. So in essence this exhibition has been made for the thousands of motorbike fanatics who will have transcended the city for that event. The museum has stated that it is the first ever tattoo related exhibition that they have staged, perhaps the notion that they have catered for an audience who they automatically expect would be drawn to tattooing reinforces two obvious stereotypes which don’t progress the attitudes of either culture. Hopefully the exhibition has been visited by a large variety of people and introduced new eyes and opinoins to the beautiful naivety of Dietzel’s paintings and his historical importance as a very vital American folk artist rather than being shrouded in the kitsch essence that so many tattoo related events pull in from both the fans and rejectors or tattoo culture.