By Anastasia Karpova Tinari
While Cornell bioengineers have used 3D printers to make live-tissue human ears, and a Dutch architecture firm unveiled plans to print an entire house in Amsterdam, a new retail space in Chicago promises to democratize 3D printing for general use. Although the technology has existed for nearly thirty years, 3D printers have recently become more accessible due to expired patents and new, user-friendly computer-aided design (CAD) software, much of which is open-source and free online.
With the profit-bearing potential of 3D printing, it may come as a surprise that the Midwest’s first public foray into the technology is based on promoting public access to, rather than privatizing, this revolutionizing technology. The 3D Printer Experience, located at 316 North Clark in River North, opened Monday, April 22. Complete with a soundtrack specially created by Cirque du Soleil, it is a place to play with, learn about, and experience 3D printing technology. Read the rest of this entry »
Information is hard to kill. By now we all know the strange life of data: its capacity for infinite reproduction, the aesthetics of its compression and failure, and its litigious potential to topple our concept of a one true whatever. What is perhaps less explored is the question of data’s death—and, as Christopher Meerdo explores in his exhibition, “Anthology,” its resurrection.
When you delete a file on your computer, the data is not immediately destroyed. Instead, it remains until the storage is written over by something new. While there are programs that will replace your data rather than erase it, these are more of a specialty option for those rare cases between “Who cares who sees my homework?” and putting nails through your hard drive before the cops show up. In the case of magnetic storage, data leaves something behind, even if it’s a rusting pincushion at the bottom of the river. Read the rest of this entry »
Lesley Dill. “A Word Made Flesh…Throat,” 1994. Gift of Stanley Freehling.
In conjunction with the newly opened “Picasso and Chicago” exhibit, the Art Institute’s Prints and Drawings department assembled “The Artist and the Poet”—a survey of twentieth-century collaborations and influences, though the connection is rather tenuous, as none of Picasso’s work is included within.
A poet, art critic and curator, Frank O’Hara is the most famous “poet among painters.” The curators devote ample space to his spirited collaborations, including over a half-dozen lithographs with Larry Rivers and an extraordinary print with Jasper Johns. From this last lithograph, titled “Skin with O’Hara Poem,” emerges the smeared image of a man’s face and hands pressed against glass. O’Hara’s poem, unusually gloomy, appears in faded typewriter text in the upper right corner. The ghost-like quality of the print is intensified by the fact that, of six planned prints, this was the only one realized before O’Hara’s early death in 1966. Read the rest of this entry »
“The Old Guitarist,” 1902–04.
In 1926, the Art Institute of Chicago was the first American museum to place a painting by Pablo Picasso (“The Old Guitarist”) on permanent display, so it’s a bit surprising that forty years after his death “Picasso and Chicago” is the first major retrospective for what the museum’s director calls “the most transformative artist of the twentieth century.” The current show is mostly items from the museum’s own collection, enhanced by several loaned artworks from private Chicago collections. But with more than four-hundred pieces to draw from, it still offers a memorable stroll through that exceptional artist’s seventy-year career. Read the rest of this entry »
“Color Bind: The MCA Collection in Black and White” is like a room full of brilliant introverts: the party doesn’t get interesting until each is engaged on its own terms. The premise is simple: all artworks contain black, white or both, in MCA curator Naomi Beckwith’s first thematic exhibition culled from the museum’s permanent collection. It seems the guests at this gathering don’t have much to talk about beyond the black-tie dress code. Segregated are the sociological-minded artists—Adrian Piper and Kerry James Marshall—from the aestheticians—Robert Ryman and Ad Reinhardt.
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Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, “Divan Japonais,” 1892-93
The mutual influence between French and Japanese printmakers comprises a complex, multi-dimensional set of exchanges that go far beyond the Impressionist period. “Awash in Color,” on view at the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art, includes several graceful Mary Cassatt aquatints whose emphasis on patterning and faded color display Cassatt’s emulation of Japanese woodblock prints coming into France in the late nineteenth-century. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s lithographic posters, whose spatial relationships and compositions break with Western pictorial traditions, and whose subject matter echo the actors and geishas of ukiyo-e, are accompanied by galleries full of stunning work by less-well-known French printmakers (and well-known artists like Degas and Vuillard) from the period in which a taste for things Japanese was referred to as Japonisme. The exchange of ideas and materials went both ways, however, and one notable import to Japan from the West was a color known as Berlin (or Prussian) blue. It was first synthesized in Germany around 1704, and was used in the 1830s in the famous woodblock landscapes of Katsushika Hokusai and Utagawa Hiroshige, among others. Aniline dyes derived from coal tar made their way to Japan where their vivid colors, like magenta and emerald green, mark the Meiji Period, which also saw a shift from woodblock printing to the imported industrial techniques of photogravure and lithography. Read the rest of this entry »
Martin Kippenberger, “Untitled (The Mark),” 1990, graphite, ink, and Letraset on hotel stationery
A few weeks ago I was watching Channel 9 for the weather. When I tired of the inane ideological background noise that is the local news, I switched to Channel 20 and “Deutsche Welle,” and I landed in the middle of an expanded story explaining in clear, comprehensible detail how futures markets create poverty in third-world countries. Moral and ethical concerns, a sense of intelligence and gravity, inspired, perhaps, by the ever-present debt to the past, likewise set the tone for the contemporary German art in “De-Natured.” This exhibition begins with Joseph Beuys—whose documents and objects obsessively reenact his experiences in the Luftwaffe, launching a new species of “social sculpture”—and fills the Block’s galleries with carefully chosen, significant minor works by important artists: It is a crucial short course on later-twentieth-century German art. Beuys’ work and cult status is related conceptually to the provocative gestures of Duchamp, but for Beuys, wit and spatial displacements are weighted with the sense of moral urgency that haunted postwar Germany. The documents (for the Free International University), multiples and objects in this collection, which belong to the Ackland Art Museum of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, provide a solid introduction to Beuys’ ideas about the connection between art and radical democracy. Read the rest of this entry »
Takumi Itow, “Drumming for a Good Harvest,” 1990, woodblock print
The shared rhythms of seasonal festivals, called “matsuri” in Japan, do not especially reflect the dynamic, fast-changing, capital-driven modern world. Some matsuri are still practiced simply because they make people feel good—does anyone still believe they are necessary to keep the community together as well as the rivers flowing, crops growing and sun rising? To outsiders, they may seem quaint and folksy, which is just how contemporary woodblock printer Itow Takumi depicts them. His work would serve quite well to promote tourist trips to rural Japan, just as many Chicago artists once specialized in travel posters for the railroads that served the American West. However, these woodblock prints do much more than attract consumer attention, and Itow’s motives for making art can hardly be attributed to mere commercialism. President of the Japanese Print Society, he teaches at Waseda University in Tokyo, and is more like a master craftsman than a gallery artist. Like a well-made tea bowl, his pieces don’t flaunt their tight design or push any of the boundaries of contemporary art, but enough is there to inspire view after view after view—leaving the spectator with a glow of contentment.
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Sandra Perlow is a mistress of discontinuities. In her oil paintings, colors clash and shapes are suspended in front of, rather than emerging out of, backgrounds of tentative brushwork. Worked surfaces—Perlow collages woodcuts and monoprints—refute any hint of pictorial depth. Like the great mid-century American painters, Perlow’s abstractions owe something to Matisse and Gorky, while the ruptures she cultivates bring the work into the present. Her dedication to visual art over time has given her the power to move through the painterly problems of modernity into a new set of postmodern formal challenges. The exhibition at Dubhe Carreño is particularly effective because the long narrow space sets up relationships among the paintings and drawings on view. Read the rest of this entry »
One thinks of a museum as a permanent civic fixture, existing to preserve its rare treasures for eternity. But the organizers of the newly hatched Chicago Design Museum understand that contemporary media is ephemeral, ubiquitous, and alive in the world, so their museum will have a temporary physical existence, from June 1-30, in a Humboldt Park loft space. The CHIDM takes cues from the modern museum exhibition format, as its five curated exhibits present poster designs in clean, neat arrangements. To isolate designed works in this way, as purely visual artifacts, diminishes their functional roles and contexts. Where an exhibition at MoMA might explore design’s influence on the way we live, the CHIDM seeks to momentarily dissociate design as an applied art, and to herald the visual creativity of designers. Although it will host many events during this month’s AIGA annual Design Week, the CHIDM is poised to attract the attention of artists and others who routinely visit art museums. Read the rest of this entry »