Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Review: James Krone/Kavi Gupta Gallery

Galleries & Museums, Media & Genres, Painting, Prints, Sculpture, Video, West Loop No Comments »
James Krone. Installation view of "An Ornithology for Birds," 2016.

James Krone. Installation view of “An Ornithology for Birds,” 2016.

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In 1952, the painter Barnett Newman dismissed philosophical aesthetics by saying: “Even if aesthetics is established as a science, it doesn’t affect me as an artist. I’ve done quite a bit of work in ornithology; I have never met an ornithologist who ever thought that ornithology was for the birds.” Newman later turned his quip into a simple analogy “Aesthetics is for the artist as ornithology is for the birds.” Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Phases of Faces/Jean Albano Gallery

Digital Art, Drawings, Multimedia, Painting, Photography, Prints, River North, Video No Comments »
Joe Tallarico. "Marold and Haude," 2014. Watercolor, ink and colored pencil, 11 x 15 inches.

Joe Tallarico. “Marold and Haude,” 2014. Watercolor and ink, 11 x 15 inches.

Five decades of the Chicago Imagists tradition are alive and well in “Faces,” the first exhibit of the new year at Jean Albano Gallery. Whether the human face is directly engaging the viewer or part of an entire figure, these faces are far removed from a Rembrandt self-portrait. They evince no naturalism, no idealism, no profound drama, no soul. These are not the faces of people on life’s journey. Read the rest of this entry »

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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Review: Intention to Know/Stony Island Arts Bank

Art Books, Collage, Greater Grand Crossing, Painting, Sculpture No Comments »
Installation view of "Intention to Know: The Thought Forms of Annie Besant" at the Rebuild Foundation's Stony Island Arts Bank." /Photo: Habib Bolat.

Installation view of “Intention to Know: The Thought Forms of Annie Besant” at the Rebuild Foundation’s Stony Island Arts Bank.”/Photo: Habib Bolat

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This isn’t another review of Theaster Gates’ Stony Island Arts Bank, part of his broader Rebuild Foundation. But what a lot more there is to say about his ambitious, inspiring and paradoxical project, part community center and part colonial outpost of the multinational avant-garde. This is only a review of the latest exhibition at the Arts Bank, “Intention to Know: The Thought Forms of Annie Besant.”

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Review: Winter Experiment: SAIC at MMG/Monique Meloche Gallery

Collage, Drawings, Galleries & Museums, Installation, Media & Genres, Multimedia, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, Wicker Park/Bucktown No Comments »
Cheryl Pope. " I ONLY NOTICE YOU WHEN I SEE YOU," 2015. Printed nylon banner, 36 x 60 inches.

Cheryl Pope. “I ONLY NOTICE YOU WHEN I SEE YOU,” 2015. Printed nylon banner, 36 x 60 inches.

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The exhibition begins outside on Division Street. There, the ruby red glow of Michelle Grabner’s painting “Untitled” from “Chicago Gingham” emanates outward through the street window and across the snow-covered sidewalk, enticing warmth and springtime nostalgia. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Spirit in the Land/Addington Gallery

Painting, River North No Comments »
Michael Dubina. "Untitled Matchbook," 3.75 x 1.5 inches.

Michael Dubina. “Fall,” n.d. Painted matchbook, 3.75 x 1.5 inches.

An uplifting Romanticism inspired the spacious, heroic American landscape painting of the early nineteenth century. Then came truth-to-nature, followed by truth-to-place and, eventually, truth-to-painting. But now, with no widely shared expectations, landscape painting is not so much a genre as an occasional mode of self-expression with a few identifiable natural features, illuminated by an inner rather than a solar light. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Scott Wolniak and John Phillip Abbott/Devening Projects + Editions

Galleries & Museums, Garfield Park, Media & Genres, Multimedia, Painting, Prints, Sculpture, Video No Comments »
Scott Wolniak. "Tablet: Vision Phase 2," 2014 - 2015. Ink, watercolor, acrylic, gouache, chalk on plaster with steel mesh on panel, 24 x 21 inches.

Scott Wolniak. “Tablet: Vision Phase 2,” 2014 – 2015. Ink, watercolor, acrylic, gouache, chalk on plaster with steel mesh on panel, 24 x 21 inches.

RECOMMENDED

For most artists, the stream of production isn’t steady and the output isn’t homogenous. “To Break is to Build,” a collection of works by multimedia artist Scott Wolniak, is inspired by the minutiae of studio activity: struggles with materials and other less acutely productive moments.  Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Surrealism: The Conjured Life/Museum of Contemporary Art

Galleries & Museums, Installation, Media & Genres, Multimedia, Painting, Sculpture, Streeterville No Comments »
Installation view, "Surrealism: The Conjured Life," MCA Chicago. /Photo: Nathan Keay.

Installation view, “Surrealism: The Conjured Life,” MCA Chicago /Photo: Nathan Keay

RECOMMENDED

In his 1951 Arts Club of Chicago talk, Jean Dubuffet decried Western humanist culture, advocating for “primitive” values of “instinct, passion, mood, violence, madness.” That same year Dubuffet painted the raw, densely textured portrait of a hat-donning gentleman, an uncanny prefiguration of Leon Golub’s heads, both currently on view in the Museum of Contemporary Art’s “Surrealism: The Conjured Life.” 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: The Street, the Store, and the Silver Screen: Pop Art from the MCA Collection/Museum of Contemporary Art

Galleries & Museums, Installation, Media & Genres, Multimedia, Painting, Sculpture, Streeterville No Comments »
Claes Oldenburg. "Green Beans," 1964. /Photo: Joe Ziolkowski.

Claes Oldenburg. “Green Beans,” 1964 /Photo: Joe Ziolkowski

RECOMMENDED

Andy Warhol’s “Troy Diptych” typifies his interest in celebrity culture. The silkscreen image shows repeated headshots of Troy Donahue, an American actor and singer: one canvas of multicolored headshots is paired with black-and-white ones on a larger canvas. The repetition causes Donahue to lose his charm as a pop star; the image becomes banal, and viewers cannot see past the flat surface of the painting. Read the rest of this entry »