Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Review: The Freedom Principle/Museum of Contemporary Art

Activist Art, Collage, Design, Drawings, Galleries & Museums, Installation, Michigan Avenue, Multimedia, Painting, Performance, Photography, Prints, Video No Comments »
Nick Cave. "Speak Louder," 2011. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Photo: James Prinz Photography.

Nick Cave. “Speak Louder,” 2011.
Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Photo: James Prinz Photography.

RECOMMENDED

The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), the Chicago-born kaleidoscope of experimental musicians, had a motto: “Ancient to Future.” That rallying call pervades the MCA’s “Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now.” The show animates the dawn of the black American avant-garde, born out of the Civil Rights era and African anti-colonial movements, and its legacy in contemporary society.

Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Zack Whitford/Hilton Asmus Contemporary

Galleries & Museums, Media & Genres, Michigan Avenue, Photography No Comments »
Weinstein_IMG_1

Zack Whitford. “These Are Our Times.” Courtesy of Hilton Asmus Contemporary

RECOMMENDED

A gifted young street photographer, who just happens to be the son of Aerosmith’s rhythm guitarist, Brad Whitford, is set loose with the band. The result is a take on rock photography that blows through all the commercial conventions of hype-driven money shots.

Read the rest of this entry »

Eye Exam: What Good is Art?

Activist Art, Collage, Drawings, Galleries & Museums, Hyde Park, Installation, Michigan Avenue, Multimedia, Painting, Performance, Photography, Prints, Sculpture No Comments »
Installation view, "The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now," MCA Chicago. July 11-November 22, 2015. Glenn Ligon. Give us a Poem, 2007. Black PVC and white neon. 75 5/8 x 74 1/4 in. The Studio Museum in Harlem, gift of the artist. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

Installation view, “The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now,” MCA Chicago. July 11-November 22, 2015. Glenn Ligon. “Give us a Poem,” 2007. Black PVC and white neon. 75 5/8 x 74 1/4 in. The Studio Museum in Harlem, gift of the artist. Photo: Nathan Keay,  MCA Chicago.

By Elliot J. Reichert

Each time I venture deeper into the tangled economy of art making and its contingent endeavors, I ask myself: What good is art? I am not an artist, but I work with artists and artworks every day. By all accounts, I should believe deeply in art, and yet I routinely question its value. As such, when I go to look at art, I often search in it for signs of doubt, and I am usually comforted to know that I am not alone in my questioning. For if contemporary art can be united under one banner, it would be doubt itself: doubt about politics, about social relations, about economic and class structures, about the very importance of human life. Ironically, this might be why I gravitate toward art in the first place, despite my ambivalence toward its significance. Art turns my fears into forms; it makes real what I cannot, or do not want, to imagine.  Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Frances Stark/Art Institute of Chicago

Digital Art, Galleries & Museums, Installation, Michigan Avenue, Multimedia, Photography, Video 1 Comment »
Frances Stark. "From therealstarkiller #1298," 2015 Archival inkjet print, 7" x 7". Courtesy the artist.

Frances Stark. “From therealstarkiller #1298,” 2015
Archival inkjet print, 7″ x 7″. Courtesy the artist.

RECOMMENDED

Intimism, a term associated with paintings of domestic scenes filled with family and friends, expertly describes the video and digital offerings in this expansive, beautiful and playful show. Leave it to Stark, best known for “My Best Thing,” a video animation of a relationship formed on Chatroulette, to shed light on the contrast between private and public in our digitized lives.

Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Timothy J. Clark/Loyola University Museum of Art

Drawings, Michigan Avenue, Painting No Comments »
Timothy J. Clark. "Vernazza, 1994," 1994 watercolor on paper

Timothy J. Clark. “Vernazza, 1994,” 1994
watercolor on paper

RECOMMENDED

Exemplified by Brunelleschi’s demonstration of one-point perspective in depicting the Baptistery in Florence 500 years ago, Renaissance pictorial space was built to encompass ecclesiastic architecture, and it’s been the standard for European painters to either meet or disrupt ever since. Watercolorist Timothy J. Clark has joined that tradition in his depictions of Baroque churches. Following Monet’s renditions of Rouen Cathedral, he has emphasized the qualities of light and shadow rather than space and volume. But the gravitas, once thought appropriate for such revered subjects, just isn’t there. Nor is the vibrant excitement that an Impressionist like John Singer Sargent could give to the effects of strong Mediterranean light falling on Italian buildings. Read the rest of this entry »

Portrait of the Artist: Richard Renaldi

Michigan Avenue, Photography No Comments »
Richard Renaldi. "Touching Strangers: Donna and Donna."

Richard Renaldi. “Touching Strangers: Donna and Donna.”

Since 2007, Richard Renaldi has been casting, staging and capturing ephemeral connections between complete strangers. “I’m looking for people that look as if they have a story to tell… Someone that makes you want to know more, want to look more, want to continue looking at them because they have something about them that is beautiful,” Richard tells me. It’s early afternoon, and he’s phoned me from inside his vehicle parked on a New York City side street. “And I don’t mean the traditional classical sense of beauty, but instead something that is an attractive quality—strong features, individuality, a visible hardship or softness in their face.” Read the rest of this entry »

News: Julie Rodrigues Widholm Named New Director of DePaul Art Museum

Lincoln Park, Michigan Avenue, News etc. No Comments »
Julie Rodrigues Widholm. Photo by Nathan Keay.

Julie Rodrigues Widholm/Photo: Nathan Keay

DePaul University announced Wednesday its selection of Julie Rodrigues Widholm as the next director of the DePaul Art Museum. Widholm, a curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, has been with the MCA since 1999, starting as a research assistant and rising through the ranks. She holds a master’s degree in art history, theory and criticism from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Currently, Widholm curates three to seven exhibitions a year, amassing a portfolio of more than fifty exhibitions at the MCA. She starts at DePaul August 31. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: David Hartt: Interval/Art Institute of Chicago

Installation, Loop, Michigan Avenue, Multimedia, Photography, Video No Comments »
David Hartt. "Interval V," 2014

David Hartt. “Interval V,” 2014

RECOMMENDED

David Hartt’s “Interval” is a visually stunning multimedia installation of photography, video, sculpture and sound that approximates distances—physical, temporal, historical and sonic—to examine uneven development among geographic and economic peripheries and the global forces that centralize capital accumulation. Set to a haunting score and evocatively documented in high-definition video and large-format photographs, Hartt’s camera records everyday moments in Sakhalin Island—a historically contested territory between mainland Russia and Japan—and the city of Whitehorse, the frontier capital of the Yukon Territory in Canada. With an ambivalent stillness that is neither voyeuristic nor detached, the videos and photographs portray these places as simultaneously restless and static as they are caught between an unhappy present and an uncertain future. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: S, M, L, XL/Museum of Contemporary Art

Gold Coast/Old Town, Michigan Avenue No Comments »
Robert Morris. "Untitled (Passageway)," 1961 Photo Courtesy Castelli Gallery, New York

Robert Morris. “Untitled (Passageway),” 1961 Photo Courtesy Castelli Gallery, New York

RECOMMENDED

Robert Morris’ sculpture “Untitled (Passageway),” of the MCA’s “S, M, L, XL,” is the epitome of what said exhibition explores: the corporeal relationship between observer and object. In its throttling of the viewer, its fearsome auguring in to compaction, “Passageway” puts the precedence not only on proximity to the audience, but their trepidation and/or courage. It is a self-contained hallway, a sculpture-cum-scorpion tail lit by the custard glow of naked bulbs; as one walks along the ecru curve, the walls quietly come together, their malevolence obfuscated by the gentle approach of the constriction, creeping forward, forcing an awkward step, a hesitation, a turning of the shoulder blades, a looming threat to the chest, until finally it becomes too much and one must turn around—fuck! too tight! slide back warily, as if an injured animal!—with the full intention of tearing through whatever callous museum goer may be blocking freedom as the drowning do the surface of the sea, fast and urgent with the dread animal exegesis to breathe … Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Charles Ray: Sculpture 1997-2014/Art Institute of Chicago

Loop, Michigan Avenue, Sculpture No Comments »
Charles Ray. "Huck and Jim," 2014.  Installation view at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Charles Ray. “Huck and Jim,” 2014.
Installation view at the Art Institute of Chicago.

RECOMMENDED

Charles Ray’s figurative sculptures sparsely populate the second floor of the Modern Wing in this major midcareer retrospective. Walls were removed to give the nineteen works plenty of breathing room. The pieces, cast in white and silver materials, create a cool, calming effect. Combined with the hushed atmosphere, examining the work feels like sneaking up on someone, as in “Sleeping Woman,” where a stainless-steel rendering of a homeless woman naps on a public bench. Read the rest of this entry »