Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Eye Exam: Two Rules of Bad Mixtapes

Ceramics, Collage, Craft Work, Design, Drawings, Galleries & Museums, Installation, Media & Genres, Multimedia, Outsider Art, Painting, Performance, Photography, Prints, Sculpture, Streeterville, Textiles No Comments »
Installation view of "Pop Art Design" at the MCA Chicago. /Photo: Nathan Keay.

Installation view of “Pop Art Design” at the MCA Chicago/Photo: Nathan Keay

By Ruslana Lichtzier

I enjoy thinking about the structure of the museum as a mixtape. Within an expanded taste, different exhibitions are organized with loose connections in an evolving tempo, hopefully with a mutual understanding regarding the role of the institution. Back in the day, mixtapes were a tool of courting; in making one, the mixtape-maker demonstrated how cool they were, how broad, complex, versatile and surprising was their taste. The danger was, and still is, in them exposing themselves as being…well, not cool.

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In Profile: Robert Burnier

Artist Profiles, Design, Digital Art, Logan Square, Sculpture No Comments »
Robert Burnier. /Photo: Paul Germanos.

Robert Burnier/Photo: Paul Germanos

In his fourth-floor studio at Mana Contemporary, Robert Burnier sits easily with one leg crossed over the other. A small, neon-orange traffic cone protrudes from the wall behind him, politely framed by carefully arranged clippings of paint swatches. Much of Burnier’s recent work has left his studio for “The Ship’s Carpenter,” his current exhibition at Elastic Arts. Small photographs of the works litter the walls, neatly arranged as they might be curated. Read the rest of this entry »

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: Pop Art Design/Museum of Contemporary Art

Design, Galleries & Museums, Media & Genres, Streeterville No Comments »
George Nelson. "Marshmallow Sofa," 1956. Collection Vitra Design Museum.

George Nelson. “Marshmallow Sofa,” 1956/Collection Vitra Design Museum

RECOMMENDED

There have been moments in history when the fine and applied arts were closely aligned. Neoclassicism and Art Nouveau are two examples. In the 1920s, Russian Constructivism, as the art historian Christina Kiaer has shown, was a unified style in painting, sculpture and the decorative arts. The same is true about Pop as revealed by “Pop Art Design.” Read the rest of this entry »

Review: So-called Utopias/Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts

Activist Art, Architecture, Design, Galleries & Museums, Hyde Park, Installation, Media & Genres, Multimedia, Photography, Prints, Sculpture, Video No Comments »
Melanie Smith. "Fordlandia ," 2014. Video still.

Melanie Smith. “Fordlandia ,” 2014. Video still.

RECOMMENDED

Utopias have vexed the art world of late. To name but one example: the first Summer Forum residency recently took place in New Harmony, a site of failed utopian living in Indiana. Meanwhile the critical currents of queer pessimism have forcefully militated against utopian longing, exemplified in the anti-futurity espoused by Lee Edelman. Utopias are dangerous and dreamy. Alluring and exclusionary. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: ASSISTED/Kavi Gupta

Design, Drawings, Galleries & Museums, Installation, Media & Genres, Multimedia, Painting, Sculpture, Textiles, Video, West Loop, West Town No Comments »
Tony Tasset. "Cup (2)," 2013. Cast bronze and paint, 4 x 4 x 4.5 inches.

Tony Tasset. “Cup (2),” 2013. Cast bronze and paint, 4 x 4 x 4.5 inches.

RECOMMENDED

Jessica Stockholder’s solo show on the first floor of Kavi Gupta’s Washington Boulevard location features a new body of work which includes her “Assists,” a set of sculpted pieces that might hold up other art. In that show, Tony Tasset’s “Cup,” a cast bronze imitation of Styrofoam, makes a cameo appearance resting on one of them.

Tasset’s work is a stray object from “ASSISTED,” an insightful show occupying the gallery’s second floor that mingles Stockholder’s work with representative examples from artists who have inspired (“assisted”) her. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: La Muerte Niña: Day of the Dead/National Museum of Mexican Art

Activist Art, Collage, Craft Work, Design, Galleries & Museums, Installation, Media & Genres, Multimedia, Painting, Photography, Pilsen, Sculpture, Textiles No Comments »
Rocío Caballero. “On the Threshold of Silence/En el umbral del silencio,” 2014. Mixed media on canvas.

Rocío Caballero. “On the Threshold of Silence/En el umbral del silencio,” 2014. Mixed media on canvas.

RECOMMENDED

Including over ninety artists from both the United States and Mexico, “La Muerte Niña: Day of the Dead” is an exhibition in which the private becomes public. The space is awash with orange and yellow marigolds, sequins, skeletons and religious iconography, but beyond this visually stunning assembly of cultural symbols are carefully constructed personal stories. Read the rest of this entry »

Eye Exam: Freedom From Information

Activist Art, Collage, Design, Digital Art, Galleries & Museums, Installation, Loop, Media & Genres, Multimedia, Painting, Performance, Photography, Prints, Sculpture, Video No Comments »
Dora Garcia. "Ulysses," since 1999. Trimmed book, unlimited edition.

Dora Garcia. “Ulysses,” since 1999. Trimmed book, unlimited edition.

By Elliot J. Reichert

It is difficult to think about art these days. Witnessing the world unravel in daily news reports makes questions of culture seem superfluous. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Christopher Michlig, Amy Yoes/Devening Projects + Editions

Collage, Design, Digital Art, Galleries & Museums, Garfield Park, Media & Genres, Multimedia, Prints No Comments »
Amy Yoes. "Structural 004," 2014. Mixed media collage, 14 × 16 inches.

Amy Yoes. “Structural 004,” 2014. Mixed media collage, 14 × 16 inches.

RECOMMENDED

Dan Devening, proprietor of the eponymous ‘projects + editions,’ painter, curator and faculty at SAIC, has a good eye for pairing artists. While his Garfield Park gallery typically runs concurrent solo shows in separate rooms within the same space, the aesthetic frisson generated by the works’ proximity is almost always palpable and the dialogue between them inescapable. Case in point: Christopher Michlig’s “To Everyone” and Amy Yoes’ “Structurals and Sightlines.”

In Yoes’ multi-paneled installation, an initial feeling of cool intellectualism (possibly provoked by the works’ lack of color) gives way to something more primitive, more vigorously physical. As hard-edged geometric shapes collide head-on with snippets of casual brush strokes and glued-down half-tone dots, the vertiginous spaces they create exact a tidal pull upon the body forcing the viewer to move in close and then take several large steps back in order to reckon with the arrangement. In contrast, her stop-motion animation “Sightlines” literally brings the paintings’ forms to life, but at the cost of our kinesis; we cease moving and instead merely watch.

Christopher Michlig. "To Everyone V," 2015. Collage, high-gloss enamel on poly-coated poster paper, 22 × 14 inches.

Christopher Michlig. “To Everyone V,” 2015. Collage, high-gloss enamel on poly-coated poster paper, 22 × 14 inches.

While Yoes’ “Structurals and Sightlines” rapidly shift from passive to aggressive, the collages in Michlig’s “To Everyone” move in the opposing direction. What begins as an assertive display of hyper-saturated, West Coast color yields a more deliberate exploration of duplication, theme and variation. Based on screen-printed reproductions from a 1961 André Bloc exhibition catalogue, Michlig’s pieces reverse engineer objects that have been reduced to code back into objects again. This process is most apparent in the nine paper constructions whose simple geometry—embellished with stylized drips—resembles a kind of 3D clip art. Immediately appealing, over time the works in “To Everyone” become more ambivalent.

Michlig’s luminous collages and constructions hit fast then slow down, while Yoes’ achromatic modular panels seem reserved but then get bossy. On the face of it, these works seem designed to accentuate their differences. But both shows underscore a shared sense of art’s history, an appreciation of the visual language of reproduced imagery and the fusion of different forms of “touch” through collage as a quintessentially contemporary medium. (Alan Pocaro)

Through December 12 at Devening Projects + Editions, 3039 West Carroll.

Review: Stanley Tigerman/Volume Gallery

Architecture, Design, Drawings, Galleries & Museums, Media & Genres, West Loop No Comments »
Stanley Tigerman. "Sketch from Book 9, Beginning 1976, Bourges, France," 1976. Ink on paper, 5 x 8.5 inches.

Stanley Tigerman. “Sketch from Book 9, Beginning 1976, Bourges, France,” 1976. Ink on paper, 5 x 8.5 inches.

RECOMMENDED

Stanley Tigerman practices his art (450 buildings) and preaches it too (with seven books and many publications). His quick sketch on a napkin won the competition for the Illinois Holocaust Museum, so it’s not surprising that he is often cited when architects discuss the educational importance of freehand drawing skills. With 821 drawings taken from twenty sketchbooks made over forty years, this exhibition serves as his visual statement on the issue.

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