Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

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: Documents for the Past-Present-Future/Efrain Lopez Gallery

East Village, Galleries & Museums, Installation, Media & Genres, Multimedia, Sculpture No Comments »
Installation view of "Documents for the Past-Present-Future" featuring "Future Reliquaries" by Kayla Anderson. /Photo: at Efrain Lopez Gallery.

Installation view of “Documents for the Past-Present-Future” featuring “Future Reliquaries” by Kayla Anderson

RECOMMENDED

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 »

Review: Erin Washington/Zolla/Lieberman Gallery

River North No Comments »
Erin Washington. "Ruin and cosmic dust," 2015. 35 x 30 inches.

Erin Washington. “Ruin and cosmic dust,” 2015. 34.5 x 30 inches.

RECOMMENDED

Composed primarily with white chalk—a material not renowned for its durability—the eight drawings in Erin Washington’s arresting new show “Useful Knowledge” arouse searching questions about why some images and ideas last, while others are erased by time. These modestly sized, almost achromatic works are complex in spite of their relative formal simplicity, and contemplative despite a single off-pitch nod to spectacle.

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News: Remembering Lois Weisberg, former Commissioner of Cultural Affairs and Supporter of Chicago’s Art and Culture

News etc. No Comments »
Lois Weisberg /Photo: City of Chicago

Lois Weisberg /Photo: City of Chicago

Although Lois Weisberg, a long-time proponent of Chicago’s arts and culture, passed away on Wednesday at age ninety, her presence will continue to be felt through the countless programs and initiatives she fostered in the city. 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 »

Review: The Greeks/Field Museum

Ceramics, Museum Campus, Sculpture No Comments »
Bust of Alexander the Great. /Photo: Archaeological Museum of Pella.

Bust of Alexander the Great/Photo: Archaeological Museum of Pella

RECOMMENDED

“This exhibition is not your typical art-historical display of pretty vases and statues,” states curator William Parkinson. “It gives the visitor an opportunity to see the evolution of Greek culture, politics and economics over the long-term.” 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 »

Review: Gordon Parks/Rhona Hoffman Gallery

Galleries & Museums, Media & Genres, Photography, West Loop No Comments »
 Gordon Parks. "Untitled, Mobile, Alabama," 1956. Photograph by Gordon Parks, courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation.

Gordon Parks. “Untitled, Mobile, Alabama,” 1956. Archival pigment print, 16 x 20 inches. /Photograph by Gordon Parks, courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation.

RECOMMENDED

I am conflicted about the classification of a photograph as fine art or photojournalism; more often than not the distinction of fine art is assigned in hindsight after the documented event has been deemed culturally significant. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »