Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Review: Thomas Grünfeld/Corbett vs. Dempsey

Galleries & Museums, Media & Genres, Multimedia, Sculpture, Ukrainian Village/East Village 1 Comment »
Thomas Grunfled. "HdL (orange)," 2014. Iron, wood, mirror and leather. 21 1/2 x 9 3/4 x 14 inches.

Thomas Grünfeld. “HdL (orange),” 2014. Iron, wood, mirror and leather. 21 1/2 x 9 3/4 x 14 inches.


What one is dealing with here are the dreams of a designer: sculptures and wall-mounted pieces of extreme oddity and pulchritude wherein the former masks the later, with the strangeness even further couched in a design sensibility not too far from the elegance and desire one finds evoked in the sweeping arms and spinal column of a chair or the glorious lucifer, a beautifully crafted lamp. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Katie Pennachio and Matt Mancini/Fernwey

Galleries & Museums, Media & Genres, Painting, Sculpture, Ukrainian Village/East Village No Comments »
Kate Pennachio and Matt Mancini. "Feel Flows," installation view. Fenway Gallery.

Katie Pennachio and Matt Mancini. “Feel Flows,” installation view. Fernwey Gallery.


Consider two moments: the meme-deluged aftermath of Drake’s James Turrell inspired “Hotline Bling” video and the so-called “Renoir Sucks at Painting” movement, a facetious rally for collective action against the perceived aesthetic tyranny of the Impressionist painter. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: INsite ONview/Matthew Rachman Gallery

Architecture, Design, Galleries & Museums, Installation, Media & Genres, Photography, Ukrainian Village/East Village No Comments »
Kate Joyce, “INsite ONsite No.4.”

Kate Joyce, “INsite ONsite No.4.”


“No one knows what it is like to live in a glass house,” claimed Edith Farnsworth, the original occupant and owner of the famous Farnsworth House designed by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Chicago Connection/Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art

Galleries & Museums, Ukrainian Village/East Village No Comments »
Richard Hunt/ "Thru the Branching," 1987. Color lithograph, 22 x 30 inches.

Richard Hunt/ “Thru the Branching,” 1987.
Color lithograph, 22 x 30 inches.


It is difficult to imagine late 20th century Chicago art without the irreverent pop culture attitude of the Imagists, but that’s exactly what this exhibition has done. It begins with the non-figurative sculpture of Konstantin Milonadis and Mychajlo Urban, co-founders of the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art. Coming from war-torn Eastern Europe, they chose to create a happier world with rationally organized space surrounding their playful, finely tuned sculptures. The exhibition pulls in other artists who, like them, studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the decade following the Second World War. These Americans were far more involved with their inner lives than with changing the world. Despite changing trends, the artists in this exhibition who worked into the 80s, 90s and beyond continued to pursue their own vision in later work that is more refined in its expression of established maturity rather than turbulent youth.

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Eye Exam: Chicago is an Exquisite Corpse

Activist Art, Architecture, Art Fairs, Art Schools, Collage, Comics, Design, Digital Art, Drawings, Evanston, Fall Preview, Galleries & Museums, Garfield Park, Gold Coast/Old Town, Humboldt Park, Hyde Park, Installation, Little Village, Logan Square, Loop, Michigan Avenue, Multimedia, Museum Campus, Outsider Art, Painting, Performance, Photography, Pilsen, Prints, Public Art, River North, River West, Rogers Park, Sculpture, South Loop, Street Art, Streeterville, Suburban, Ukrainian Village/East Village, Uptown, Video, West Loop, West Town, Wicker Park/Bucktown No Comments »
The thing that was sent to me in it's intended but unsettling orientation.

The thing that was sent to me in its intended but unsettling orientation.

By Elliot J. Reichert

The above image was sent to me anonymously in the middle of the night. Shocking as it appears, I was relieved to receive it. You see, weeks ago I had contacted a few artist friends to ask them to reflect on the upcoming fall art season in Chicago and to ask one to “take over” the task of appraising it. To my surprise, they were reluctant to describe it, even those who had exhibitions of their work opening in the coming weeks. Later, I realized that their silence was my doing, having asked a question that could produce no coherent answer.

Much like the drawing game made famous by the Surrealists, Chicago’s 2015 fall art season is an exquisite corpse—a thing of grotesque beauty that is the dream of no one, but the creation of many. At first glance, it appears sinister, like the Block Museum’s solo show of newly commissioned works by Chicago artist Geof Oppenheimer. Rumor has it that the sculptor has filled the museum’s ample galleries with austere and foreboding installations resembling the cinderblock constructions of grim institutions, like prison, or perhaps your corporate office. Even more menacing, Irena Haiduk, also Chicago-based and also exhibiting new work, will haunt the eaves of the Renaissance Society’s transformed gallery with the Sirens of Greek mythology, luring visitors unexpectedly into a debate on the revolutionary possibilities of art and social change amidst current political upheaval worldwide. Read the rest of this entry »

Portrait of the Artist: Ben Eine

Artist Profiles, Galleries & Museums, Media & Genres, Street Art, Ukrainian Village/East Village No Comments »
Ben Eine at the site of his mural on South Wabash.

Ben Eine at the site of his mural on South Wabash

The sky is clear and the sun is hot. Two figures stand inside a lift that reaches the top of a two-story parking garage in the South Loop. Dipping and stretching their dripping rollers, they carefully paint around a twenty-four-foot-tall letter “A.” As I get closer, I notice a third figure standing below them. Feet pacing and eyes looking up, he squints into the sun and lights a cigarette.

“Ben?” I ask. The artist turns around quickly, smiles and shakes my hand. Beads of sweat glisten on his forehead, and his hands and face are covered in orange paint. Despite my surprise visit, he is welcoming and good-humored. Motioning upwards, he wastes no time in explaining his current project. “So, seven letters. I wanted it to be positive, I wanted it to be happy—” He is interrupted by a parking attendant who’s asking the status of the lift’s next move. As he walks off to instruct, I make note of his attire: the bold décor of his countless tattoos, Hawaiian print shorts and bright blue sneakers complements the colorful 240-foot long mural-in-progress, which spells out “HARMONY” in swirls of neon paint. Read the rest of this entry »

Portrait of the Artist: Nina Chanel Abney

Artist Profiles, Galleries & Museums, Painting, Public Art, Ukrainian Village/East Village No Comments »
Nina Chanel Abney

Nina Chanel Abney

Nina Chanel Abney stands in front of a large auditorium full of people. It’s 2011, and she’s just been welcomed to the stage of Washington D.C.’s Corcoran Gallery of Art, where she’s giving a visiting-artist lecture. “I’m a little nervous, but it’s been very humbling to be a part of the ‘30 Americans’ exhibition,” she begins. “Just four years ago, I was in school and I signed up for an artist studio tour and we went to Kehinde Wiley and Wangechi Mutu’s studios—and now I’m in a show with them and it’s a little bit weird.” With a smiling mouth and quivering voice, she continues. “This is my first lecture, so I hope I do a good job for you guys.”

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Review: Brandon Anschultz/Regards Gallery

Galleries & Museums, Installation, Painting, Ukrainian Village/East Village No Comments »
Brandon Anschultz. "Spearmint," 2015 oil, watercolor, gouache on canvas, 11" x 8.5" / Photo by Eileen Mueller.

Brandon Anschultz. “Spearmint,” 2015
oil, watercolor, gouache on canvas, 11″ x 8.5″/Photo: Eileen Mueller


Contemporary art so often pursues the aesthetics of surprise that it takes a willful suspension of disbelief to find anything unexpected. In this way, the curation of the Brandon Anschultz exhibition is not especially surprising. A large wooden plank hangs casually over a balcony as if it had not yet been installed. A small sculpture is hidden away on a remote window sill; another has been placed in a dark corner on the floor, though an attached wire indicates that it was fabricated to hang from above. None of this seems unusual, nor do the drippy-glob sculptures that were made by dipping ordinary objects, like shoes, repeatedly into buckets of thick paint. So much of the world is messy and chaotic, there is nothing strange about one more room of it.

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Review: Art Paul/Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art

Design, Drawings, Painting, Ukrainian Village/East Village No Comments »
Art Paul. "Cheers," 1987, colored pencil on paper, "8 x 11.5"

Art Paul. “Cheers,” 1987, colored pencil on paper, “8 x 11.5”


Whether or not you ever found the intellectual content of Playboy magazine as thrilling as its cheesecake, you had to be impressed by the way it incorporated image and text to create excitement on every page. As art director for its first thirty years, Art Paul (born 1925) was responsible for that graphic design as well as the Playboy Bunny logo, so it’s no surprise that soon after retirement in 1982, he was inducted into the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Albert Oehlen/Corbett vs. Dempsey

Collage, Painting, Ukrainian Village/East Village No Comments »
Albert Oehlen. "Untitled (cow 4)," 2011 paper on canvas, 59" x 72 3/4"

Albert Oehlen. “Untitled (cow 4),” 2011
paper on canvas, 59″ x 72 3/4″


Cutting and collaging advertisements to fill the gallery with a herd of cattle—bright, cacophonous and just on the edge of perception—Oehlen’s new show at Corbett vs. Dempsey is called “Rawhide.” The cows-on-canvas (which seem intimidatingly large, though they’re almost all just shy of five feet by six) are rounded up for market, but Oehlen has confused the juxtaposed advertisements to the point of mere decoration, so they can’t sell us anything beyond themselves. True to “Rawhide,” the 1959-1966 TV series that saw cowboys lead a cattle drive to market, Oehlen is giving us cows neither here nor there: the bovines shimmer in and out of view, competing with the flashiness of billboards. The theme song incites us, like the collagist headed to market, to “Cut ’em out/ Ride ’em in.” Read the rest of this entry »