Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Review: Lilli Carré/Western Exhibitions

Art Books, Drawings, Video, West Loop No Comments »
Lilli Carré. "Solution Drawing (no. 2)," 2014, maze: pencil on paper, solution: colored pencil on paper

Lilli Carré. “Solution Drawing (no. 2),” 2014,
maze: pencil on paper,
solution: colored pencil on paper

RECOMMENDED

Humans make mazes for themselves so they can solve them. Crosswords, sudoku, Rubik’s Cubes: we’re frustrated with the concept of being lost, but we’re also fascinated with the process of unlocking, the discernment involved and the discovery that happens along the way.

Lilli Carré’s “The Pleasure of Getting Lost” explores this mentality through drawings, animations and a book. Carré’s multidisciplinary practice successfully makes visual the array of sensations associated with the concept of being lost. She invites viewers to lose themselves with her, to follow her process and even step into her roles as creator, explorer and solver of the puzzles. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Kavi Gupta Opens Art Bookstore in West Loop

Art Books, Comics, News etc., West Loop No Comments »
Kavi Gupta Gallery's new bookstore space Editions

Kavi Gupta Gallery’s new bookstore space Editions

Kavi Gupta Gallery (KGG) has announced that it will open Editions (not to be confused with Edition, the satellite art fair held in the West Loop during Expo Chicago), a curated art bookstore, next Friday, September 19 with a book launch for “Seen/Unseen” a new artist book project by Tavares Strachan. Editions will feature monographs, zines, theory and criticism, as well as rare artist editions and out-of-print art books by major contemporary artists. The store will carry books that KGG has played some part in producing, as well as work by artists on their roster including blanket, tote bag and plate editions by Mickalene Thomas; a 3D-printed rock produced by Glenn Kaino for the occasion of his exhibition at the gallery’s 219 North Elizabeth Street location; placemats designed by Jessica Stockholder; and artist books by Scott Treleaven. Along with art-theory powerhouses like semiotext(e), Editions will stock books from local publishers including Green Lantern Press, Poor Farm Press and Sara Ranchouse. The store is located in the same building as Kavi Gupta’s space at 835 West Washington, just down the hall from their exhibition space. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Medium Cool Book Fair Returns This Weekend

Art Books, Design, News etc., Prints, West Loop No Comments »
Andrew Holmquist.  Ten books in the conXion box set, offset printed books, 2014

Andrew Holmquist.
Ten books in the conXion box set, offset printed books, 2014

Now in its second year, Chicago’s young art book fair has expanded for its latest iteration this weekend, spread across two days, at two sites, with two different focuses. Founded by designer Ria Roberts, Medium Cool is one of the most recent additions to Chicago’s literati culture of fairs, independent presses and book-minded artist projects. Read the rest of this entry »

Eye Exam: The Artist’s Library

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Mindy Rose Schwartz's art studio library

Mindy Rose Schwartz’s art studio library

By Jason Foumberg

To coincide with Newcity’s annual feature, Lit 50: Who Really Books in Chicago, and the Printers Row Lit Fest (June 7-8), we asked a handful of visual artists for recommendations and anecdotes about books that have had profound influence on their artistic perspectives.

Mindy Rose Schwartz: How to gift a book. My favorite book to gift is one I got as a gift from a dear friend who is a flawless gift giver—”On Ugliness,” by Umberto Eco. The pictures and writing are fascinating and beautiful and, of course, disgusting. You can’t put it down. It’s a great and satisfying combination of creepiness, humor and kind of a sick feeling in my stomach. It’s not every gift that can deliver all that. Mindy Rose Schwartz shows through June 29 at Queer Thoughts, 1640 West 18th, #3. Read the rest of this entry »

Art Break: A Handmade Utopia

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LBD_cover-FRONT

Trailing characters involved in the establishment of an aspirational interdisciplinary research site in a late 1960s pioneering Southern California, we enter the world behind the new book by Robert Kett and Anna Kryczka, “Learning by Doing at the Farm.” Students, researchers and indigenous “informants” coalesce and cohabitate space on an off-site ranch of the University of California, Irvine. Goals of the experiment include simulating native environments and possible realities. Rooted in the research of research, “Learning by Doing at the Farm” elevates the historical narrative of the loosely engineered engagements of the Farm to near sublime status, offering an aerial view that hovers between waxing counter-culture poetic and a just-out-of-reach synthesis of the relevance of events taking place there.

Having approached the book with a budding assumption that the insides reflected motivations of a new farmers movement—a personal projection of dreamed alternative living—I’m left with the word Farm ringing in my ear. Its application stands rooted in an echoed yearning for a pastoral life beyond societal confines. Its use offers cultural insight to an era when intellectualism assumed the foreminds of the dominant class, and actual farming had fallen out of sight and out of mind. Read the rest of this entry »

Art Break: New Books by Artists

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Even though we often see artworks by artists, it is also good to hear their voices. Print is alive and well; artists help make it so.

Shifter

Shifter, issue 20
Edited by Sreshta Rit Premnath and Matthew Metzger

The special theme of Shifter issue 20 is “What We Can Knot.” (It puts a positive spin on the cliché “he who cannot, teaches,” and offers anecdotal antidotes to James Elkins’ 2001 book, “Why Art Cannot Be Taught.”) What are art instructors thinking about today? What is the current state of art education? More than fifty contributors discuss the roles of professors, mentors, pupils, muses and Top Chef challenges. Many of the statements are formatted as conversations through which a collective understanding is talked out (this is an ideal of the classroom seminar) on timely topics such as de-skilling, re-skilling, friendship versus mentorship, CalArts versus SAIC, and the fate of the adjunct teacher. “Do part-time teachers work craft-services in the edu-tainment business?” asks Andrew Falkowski in his essay. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Structures for Reading/Center for Book and Paper Arts

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from Silvio Lorusso and Sebastian Schmieg’s “56 Broken Kindle Screens”

from Silvio Lorusso and Sebastian Schmieg’s “56 Broken Kindle Screens”

RECOMMENDED

Visual and literary artists often partner, resulting in beautiful works like “Prose of the Trans-Siberian and of Little Joan of France” currently on view in MoMA’s “Inventing Abstraction,” in which Sonia Delaunay’s Orphic, abstract shapes literally bleed into Blaise Cendrars’ poetry, or becoming one and the same in the case of the Conceptual group Art+Language. A current exhibition curated by Jessica Cochran at Columbia College Chicago’s Center for Book and Paper Arts, “Structures for Reading,” considers a refreshingly novel aspect of the interplay between literary and visual arts: the relationship between book and human body as well as the physical exercise of reading.

New possibilities for reading are presented by Gareth Long’s “Invented Desk for Copying,” a wood desk in an S-shape with two facing working spaces, from Flaubert’s last novel, or Johana Moscoso’s “Delirio/Delirium,” a bean-shaped pillow that sits on the ground and provides a huggable support for readers’ contemplative heads. Czech artist Eva Kotatkova imagines an apparatus for attaching books to the body, either a medieval torture-device or a multi-functional spider Halloween costume and book carrier in one. These alternative structures spark curiosity: why are desks shaped that way, and why have their shapes remained unchanged through the years? Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Johanna Drucker/Center for Book and Paper Arts

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page 6 from “Simulant Portrait”

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Book artist extraordinaire Johanna Drucker, who has done more than perhaps any other contemporary artist to increase the critical recognition of book as art form, is often most closely associated with language/concrete poetry and the avant-garde of the Bay Area scene in the 1970s and eighties; but her retrospective, “Druckworks,” at Columbia College’s Center for Book and Paper Arts evidences the astonishing depth and breadth of Drucker’s creative and critical work—and shows the artist and scholar deeply engaging with current aporias and future incarnations of the book as form. Some wall text—“We think we know what a book is… but a book is a snapshot, a slice across networked streams of conversations, ideas… a temporarily configured intervention in a living field”—could stand in for Drucker’s prolific career over the past forty years as she has been in conversation with poets, book artists, scholars, printers, graphic designers and cartographers nationally and internationally. Throughout, her primary concern with the visual and material dimension of text anchors the show as different threads (unreadable writing, ekphrasis, synesthesia, digital poetry, post-alphabetic writing in digital media) emerge from the dozens of books and works on paper, interrogating the relation between image and meaning from seemingly endless angles. Read the rest of this entry »

Eye Exam: Not-Bestsellers Inspire Anyway

Art Books, Digital Art, Drawings No Comments »

Molly Springfield, from “The Proto-History of the Internet”

By Jason Foumberg

If there was an awkward reveal during “Publication in the Expanded Field,” Triple Canopy’s presentation this past March (as part of Columbia College’s Interdisciplinary Arts Department visiting artist program) of their Internet art magazine, it didn’t come via their slogan, “Slowing down the Internet,” nor in their ability to convince writers and artists to transform their materials into purely digital terms, such as a downloadable program that randomly casts shadows across your desktop, nor in their conviction that technology is finally satisfying both the archival impulse and the creative drive. No, the eye-opening moment arrived as an aside during the Q&A: Triple Canopy, the art magazine on the cutting edge of the digital divide, confessed the hope to one day anthologize its online magazine into a printed book. It’s too expensive to keep up with ever-evolving technology, said their web developer, so a book would be permanent, a safeguard against the dematerialization of electronic content. This reversal, this coveting of the physical, ink-and-paper format by a new media group, turns the crisis of the publishing industry on its head. We have experienced the future of the published page, and it is inadequate.

If Triple Canopy were a book, it might read like “Blast Counterblast,” a newly published collection of artists’ writings and short fiction from the WhiteWalls imprint, edited by Anthony Elms and Steve Reinke. Both Triple Canopy and “Blast Counterblast” envision an ideal reader who wants to be educated, inspired and surprised, all at once—and they push readers through exciting interfaces and design enhancements. Triple Canopy presents text as a multimedia experience, and the essays in “Blast Counterblast” have words heightened with colored ink, like suggestions for hyperlinks that the reader must connect. These modifications are subtle, respecting the fact that content should ensnare readers too. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Jindrich Heisler/Art Institute of Chicago

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Jindrich Heisler. Untitled, 1944.

RECOMMENDED

This first museum retrospective brings together seventy works that Jindrich Heisler (1914–1953) made between 1938, when he joined the Czechoslovakia Surrealist Group, and his death, in 1953. Disobeying a summons to deportation to a concentration camp in 1941, Heisler remained in hiding until the war’s end. Undeterred by the suppression of surrealism in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia, Heisler made much of the work in the exhibition while in hiding.

In a series of photographs from 1944-1945 titled “From the Same Ilk (De la meme farine),” the moth-eaten bodies of figures form inverted silhouettes against black backdrops. Stretched into being across stark landscapes, cobwebby striations connect hand to hand, hand to face. The hues and rough textures recall Alberto Giacometti’s painted bronze sculptures. Heisler achieved these existentially wrought images through an inventive process of drawing, possibly with petroleum jelly on a glass photo plate or through image transfers, then printing the results on photosensitive paper, often applying color by hand. Read the rest of this entry »