Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Eye Exam: Charlotte Moorman’s Network for One

Evanston, Galleries & Museums, Media & Genres, Multimedia, Performance, Photography, Prints No Comments »
Charlotte Moorman performs Nam June Paik’s "TV Cello" wearing "TV Glasses," New York, 1971. /Photo: Takahiko Iimura.

Charlotte Moorman performs Nam June Paik’s “TV Cello” wearing “TV Glasses,” New York, 1971 /Photo: Takahiko Iimura

By Chris Reeves

Among the banquet of actions presented in the Block Museum’s “A Feast of Astonishments: Charlotte Moorman and the Avant-Garde, 1960s-1980s”—violin-smashing, dress-cutting, sandwich-eating—it might be thumbing through a Rolodex that gets to the crux of this exhibition. Read the rest of this entry »

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.

RECOMMENDED

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: Kathryn Andrews/Museum of Contemporary Art

Galleries & Museums, Installation, Multimedia, Photography, Prints, Sculpture, Streeterville No Comments »
Installation view of "Kathryn Andrews: Run for President" at the MCA Chicago. /Photo: Nathan Keay.

Installation view of “Kathryn Andrews: Run for President” at the MCA Chicago/Photo: Nathan Keay

A nineteenth-century general sits atop a mound of skulls. Set against overlapping neon pink and yellow backgrounds (the aluminum support adding an incongruous sheen), the general and his sword, plumed helmet and squat pose summed up a satirical critique of Whig politics in the 1848 Currier & Ives print from which Kathryn Andrews worked. A plexiglass panel along the piece’s right edge reveals the folded costume of the Joker, worn by Jack Nicholson in Tim Burton’s “Batman.” American politics has long been the province of murderous fools, but what, precisely, does Andrews offer in her argot of visual culture? What does it mean to repurpose old satire as new satire?

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.

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 »

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Dionysos Unmasked/Art Institute of Chicago

Galleries & Museums, Media & Genres, Michigan Avenue, Prints, Sculpture No Comments »
Statue of Young Dionysos, 100 B.C.–A.D. 100. On anonymous loan to the Art Institute. /Photo: Richard Valencia.

Statue of Young Dionysos, 100 B.C.-A.D. 100. On anonymous loan to the Art Institute /Photo: Richard Valencia

RECOMMENDED

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 the rest of this entry »

Review: Homegrown/Art Institute of Chicago

Drawings, Galleries & Museums, Media & Genres, Michigan Avenue, Multimedia, Prints No Comments »
Gladys Nilsson. "Big School Picture; Little Paper Mural," 1992.

Gladys Nilsson. “Big School Picture; Little Paper Mural,” 1992.

RECOMMENDED

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 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 »