James Krone. Installation view of “An Ornithology for Birds,” 2016.
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 »
Activist Art, Collage, Drawings, Galleries & Museums, Installation, Media & Genres, Multimedia, Performance, Photography, Sculpture, South Loop, Textiles, Video
Zackary Drucker. “Southern for Pussy,” 2015. Video still.
“Bring Your Own Body: Transgender Between Archives and Aesthetics,” currently on view at Glass Curtain Gallery at Columbia College, provides a multilayered experience by featuring works of contemporary transgender artists juxtaposed with archival materials to illustrate the multiplicity of transgender identities as they are represented in the art world, pop culture and institutional discourses. Named after an unpublished manuscript by intersex pioneer Lynn Harris, “Bring Your Own Body” blends historical documents and contemporary art to provide critical perspectives on the ongoing formation of transgender identities. Read the rest of this entry »
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?
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Ceramics, Collage, Craft Work, Design, Drawings, Galleries & Museums, Installation, Media & Genres, Multimedia, Outsider Art, Painting, Performance, Photography, Prints, Sculpture, Streeterville, Textiles
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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Installation view of “Intention to Know: The Thought Forms of Annie Besant” at the Rebuild Foundation’s Stony Island Arts Bank.”/Photo: Habib Bolat
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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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 »
Cheryl Pope. “I ONLY NOTICE YOU WHEN I SEE YOU,” 2015. Printed nylon banner, 36 x 60 inches.
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 »
Scott Wolniak. “Tablet: Vision Phase 2,” 2014 – 2015. Ink, watercolor, acrylic, gouache, chalk on plaster with steel mesh on panel, 24 x 21 inches.
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 »
Installation view of “Documents for the Past-Present-Future” featuring “Future Reliquaries” by Kayla Anderson
This group show at Efrain Lopez Gallery questions humanity’s relationship with our environment. Through the scientific lenses of anthropology and archaeology, these artists transform geographical content. Read the rest of this entry »
Installation view, “Surrealism: The Conjured Life,” MCA Chicago /Photo: Nathan Keay
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 »