It’s off-season in a slow economy, so many galleries this summer are showing off their taste rather than any one particular artist, and one of the most tasty is Galleries Maurice Sternberg in the Hancock Building. It’s also one of the most unusual—presenting that most European of themes, the human figure, not as a concept or angry cartoon, but as a savory dish. Plus the savory environs, landscape and still life, in which beautiful people should be found. All of which would belong in a suburban shopping mall, except that it’s accompanied by that high level of formal intensity that officially divorced figure painting about a hundred years ago. Rotating through the gallery this month are paintings by Ian Hornak (New York), Izvor Pende (Croatia), Robert Amft (Chicago) and, the most intense of all, Niels Strobek (Denmark). Actually, the several Strobek figures and landscapes are what make this a great show, with a beautifully evil “Bathsheba” that deserves to hang beside Manet’s “Olympia.” Slowly but surely, this gallery has been building a market for this alternative kind of contemporary art in the Chicago area. (Chris Miller)
Through September 7 at Galleries Maurice Sternberg, Hancock Building, 875 N. Michigan.