Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Double Take: The “New Contemporary” at the Art Institute

Collage, Design, Drawings, Galleries & Museums, Installation, Michigan Avenue, Multimedia, Outsider Art, Painting, Photography, Prints, Sculpture, Video 1 Comment »
Andy Warhol. "Big Electric Chair," 1967-68.

Andy Warhol. “Big Electric Chair,” 1967-68

In “Double Take,” Newcity Art commissions two or more critics to consider a single topic or exhibition in order to offer multiple perspectives on complex, timely matters in Chicago’s visual arts.

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Review: Dionysos Unmasked/Art Institute of Chicago

Galleries & Museums, Media & Genres, Michigan Avenue, Prints, Sculpture No Comments »
Statue of Young Dionysos, 100 B.C.–A.D. 100. On anonymous loan to the Art Institute. /Photo: Richard Valencia.

Statue of Young Dionysos, 100 B.C.-A.D. 100. On anonymous loan to the Art Institute /Photo: Richard Valencia

RECOMMENDED

The ancient Greeks originated that rigorous cult of rationality that formed the basis of Western philosophies of knowledge. But they were also attracted to its uninhibited antithesis: the cult of Dionysos. Although Bacchanalian festivals were later suppressed by stern Roman patriarchs, images of Dionysos and his half-human crew of maenads and satyrs persisted in response to those powerful, primal urges that likewise never seem to go away. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Homegrown/Art Institute of Chicago

Drawings, Galleries & Museums, Media & Genres, Michigan Avenue, Multimedia, Prints No Comments »
Gladys Nilsson. "Big School Picture; Little Paper Mural," 1992.

Gladys Nilsson. “Big School Picture; Little Paper Mural,” 1992.

RECOMMENDED

In the beginning there was Ivan Albright. Over-ripening the human figure, collapsing its surrounding space and removing it from social context, he prepared the way for the angry contortions of the “Monster Roster” and eventually for the rebellious pranks of the Imagists. And the School of the Art Institute of Chicago was right in the thick of it, with visionary instructors like Ray Yoshida and Whitney Halstead and artist collaborations like the Hairy Who. That’s the story of postwar Chicago art as told by this exhibition of alumni works on paper mounted in celebration of the school’s 150th anniversary. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Alfred Stieglitz/Art Institute of Chicago

Galleries & Museums, Loop, Media & Genres, Michigan Avenue, Photography No Comments »
Julia Margaret Cameron. "Thomas Carlyle," 1867, printed 1875. The Art Institute of Chicago. Alfred Stieglitz Collection.

Julia Margaret Cameron. “Thomas Carlyle,” 1867, printed 1875. The Art Institute of Chicago. Alfred Stieglitz Collection.

RECOMMENDED

The Art Institute has one of the world’s finest holdings of photographs by Stieglitz and his circle—a gift from his wife Georgia O’Keeffe no less—and little excuse is needed to bring them out from time to time. Read the rest of this entry »

Portrait of the Artist: John Stezaker

Artist Profiles, Collage, Galleries & Museums, Media & Genres, Michigan Avenue, Photography No Comments »
Stezaker, Ghosts I, 2013 (0915031)

John Stezaker. “Ghosts I,” 2013. Collage, 13 3/4 x 8 1/4 inches. /Photo: Michael Tropea.

High on the thirty-eighth floor of the Hancock Building, John Stezaker and I stand amidst the clean white walls of Richard Gray Gallery. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Far Out Females/Mongerson Gallery

Galleries & Museums, Media & Genres, Michigan Avenue, Painting 1 Comment »
Gertrude Abercrombie (1909-1977). "Black Hat," oil on canvas, 20 x 24 inches.

Gertrude Abercrombie (1909-1977). “Black Hat.” Oil on canvas, 20 x 24 inches.

RECOMMENDED

The further we get from twentieth-century America, the more bizarre its normalized gender identities now appear to us. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: A Voyage to South America: Andean Art in the Spanish Empire/Art Institute of Chicago

Galleries & Museums, Media & Genres, Michigan Avenue, Painting No Comments »
Unidentified Artist?. "Our Lady of the Rosary of Chiquinquirá with Female Donor," late 17th/early 18th century.

Unidentified Artist. “Our Lady of the Rosary of Chiquinquirá with Female Donor,” late-seventeeth/early-eighteenth century.

The title of this dossier exhibition is misleading. There is nothing here about voyages: no ships, disembarkations, or conquistadores. It should instead be called: “An Assemblage of Colonial Andean Paintings, Mostly Religious, that Occlude Matters of Racism and Slavery.” Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Kesa: Japanese Buddhist Monks’ Vestments/Art Institute of Chicago

Craft Work, Design, Galleries & Museums, Media & Genres, Michigan Avenue, Textiles No Comments »
Kesa, Edo period (1603–1868), mid-/late 18th century. Japan. Gift of Gaylord Donnelley in memory of Frances Gaylord Smith.

Kesa, Edo period (1603–1868), mid-/late eighteenth century. Japan. Gift of Gaylord Donnelley in memory of Frances Gaylord Smith.

RECOMMENDED

Sometimes, discipline is the basis of freedom. The sonnet is a fourteen-line poem in iambic pentameter. The haiku is a three-line poem with seventeen syllables. The sonata form demands exposition, development and recapitulation. Shakespeare, Basho and Beethoven thrived within these constraints.

The kesa, the outer garment worn by Japanese Buddhist monks, imposes on its maker many restrictions. It must be quadrilateral, composed of cloth or paper (recalling the shreds and patches worn by the historical Buddha), and composed in columns (usually seven), framed by a border with mitered corners. There are often six additional blocks placed here and there, ostensibly to strengthen the garment, but really because another rule creates another opportunity for beauty. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Degas: At the Track, On the Stage/Art Institute of Chicago

Drawings, Galleries & Museums, Media & Genres, Michigan Avenue, Painting, Sculpture No Comments »
Edgar Degas. "Little Dancer Aged Fourteen," c. 1879-1881. Private Collection.

Edgar Degas. “Little Dancer Aged Fourteen,” c. 1879-1881. Private Collection.

For a man surrounded his whole life by women and horses, Degas was astonishingly unresponsive to both. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Deana Lawson/Art Institute of Chicago

Galleries & Museums, Media & Genres, Michigan Avenue, Photography No Comments »
Deana Lawson. "Mama Goma, Gemena, DR Congo," 2014. Courtesy of Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago.

Deana Lawson. “Mama Goma, Gemena, DR Congo,” 2014. Courtesy of Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago.

RECOMMENDED

Deana Lawson’s found and staged images embody photography’s contradictory nature. Her scenes are filled with black bodies in predominately black places around the world, from Africa and the Caribbean to U.S. locales including New Orleans, Detroit and the Flatbush, Brownsville and Canarsie neighborhoods in Brooklyn. For Lawson, her subjects are like extended family, though when she first encounters them, they are strangers. Read the rest of this entry »