A recent screening and lecture at the Art Institute titled “Warhol before Warhol” featured five early Warhol films—“Jim Rosenquist at Work,” “Henry in the Bathroom,” “Jill and Freddy Dancing,” “Haircut (No. 1)” and “Elvis at Ferus”—all silent black-and-white meditations that require quite a bit of effort and focus to stick with but pay off in fun ways if you do. [Read more…]
By Elliot J. Reichert
Last week, James Rondeau became the twelfth president and director of the Art Institute of Chicago after eighteen years with the museum. Formerly the chair and curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Rondeau sat down with Newcity at the end of his first day as director to share his vision for leading the museum. Diversity, data, digital access and building expansion were among the topics we discussed.
It’s your first day at the director’s desk, but you’ve been with the Art Institute for eighteen years. Given your long tenure with the museum, you must have a good sense of how the institution operates. Considering that, do you already have a sense what your immediate priorities will be?
It’s in a large part about transitioning from a fairly specialized area of interest, which was being in charge of modern and contemporary art, and expanding that to take on the full scope of the encyclopedic mission. It’s moving from being curatorially specific to being curatorially general, and moving from a role of actually executing curatorial projects to one of supporting other’s projects. In this transition, I am very mindful of what the mandate is.
I feel very lucky that in eighteen years I’ve had the opportunity to work for three different directors: James Wood, James Cuno and Douglas Druick. I’ve really seen how different people do it differently. I’ve almost been able to apprentice under three very different approaches and I think I’ve been able over the years to synthesize in my mind what those approaches entail. I have also seen how expectations in the local community, the national community, the international community have changed over almost two decades since I’ve been at this museum. All this has informed my perspective. So, it’s day one, but I feel like there is an extraordinary continuity from what I’ve been learning and seeing here all these years to what I start to do today. [Read more…]
By Elliot J. Reichert
A mixture of shock and dread has been circulating among Chicago’s arts community since Threewalls, a nonprofit gallery and longtime fixture of the alternative arts scene, announced it could no longer afford its West Loop loft space. Albeit saddening, the news came as no surprise to those who have witnessed the past decade or more of the West Loop’s aggressive development from meatpacking and cold-storage warehouses to luxury condos and Michelin-starred restaurants. As former Newcity art editor Jason Foumberg recently reported in Chicago magazine, more gallery move-outs are slated for the summer to make way for development projects, and by the fall, there will be little left of the West Loop art scene as we know it. [Read more…]
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.
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 more…]
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 more…]
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 more…]