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 Named after an unpublished manuscript by intersex pioneer Lynn Harris, “Bring Your Own Body” blends historical documents and contemporary art to provide critical perspectives on the ongoing formation of transgender identities.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 »
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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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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Claes Oldenburg. “Green Beans,” 1964 /Photo: Joe Ziolkowski
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 »
George Nelson. “Marshmallow Sofa,” 1956/Collection Vitra Design Museum
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 »
Ceramics by Noah Singer. Threewalls Seasonal Shop Showcase.
If the “buy local” consumer ethos has improved the environment and kickstarted local economies, Chicago’s art collectors would do better to build their collections the same way they fill their fridges. For aspiring and seasoned connoisseurs alike, Chicago is rife with opportunities to purchase affordable, beautiful work by emerging and established local artists. Read the rest of this entry »
Newcity will run selective live coverage of EXPO Chicago: The International Exposition of Contemporary & Modern Art throughout the weekend of the fair, September 17-20, 2015.
Wifredo Lam. “Untitled–[Arcane Dreams],” 1955.
It was still possible in 1956, the year I was born, to produce pictures based on moral conviction. Johns and Rauschenberg were little known, Warhol was a successful designer (and that’s all), and Lichtenstein was teaching at Ohio State University. Irony was a minority rhetoric, and the most ambitious art aspired, as Rothko said, to the condition of the “tragic and timeless.” It wasn’t that the Abstract Expressionists represented fraught subjects but that they painted as if the fate of mankind hinged on their every brush stroke.
There were dozens of other artists nearly as achieved as Rothko, de Kooning, Pollock, Newman, Kline and Motherwell, who never gained the same renown. Many of them happened to be on exhibition in EXPO Chicago this year. Their names are evocative of the rich, immigrant mix of New York from the 1930s to sixties and the legacy of European modernism: Robert Natkin, Michael Goldberg, Hans Burkhardt, Friedel Dzubas, Theodoros Stamos, Conrad Marca-Relli, Louis Guglielmi, Perle Fine and others. Read the rest of this entry »
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“LUMA At Ten: Greatest Hits,” Installation view, including “Silver Clouds” by Andy Warhol and “Paranirvana (Self Portrait)” by Lewis deSoto./Photo: Loyola University Chicago
Religion is often the apparent culprit in today’s war-torn world, so an exhibition with a spiritual undertone may seem unnerving. Read the rest of this entry »
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The thing that was sent to me in its intended but unsettling orientation.
By Elliot J. Reichert
The above image was sent to me anonymously in the middle of the night. Shocking as it appears, I was relieved to receive it. You see, weeks ago I had contacted a few artist friends to ask them to reflect on the upcoming fall art season in Chicago and to ask one to “take over” the task of appraising it. To my surprise, they were reluctant to describe it, even those who had exhibitions of their work opening in the coming weeks. Later, I realized that their silence was my doing, having asked a question that could produce no coherent answer.
Much like the drawing game made famous by the Surrealists, Chicago’s 2015 fall art season is an exquisite corpse—a thing of grotesque beauty that is the dream of no one, but the creation of many. At first glance, it appears sinister, like the Block Museum’s solo show of newly commissioned works by Chicago artist Geof Oppenheimer. Rumor has it that the sculptor has filled the museum’s ample galleries with austere and foreboding installations resembling the cinderblock constructions of grim institutions, like prison, or perhaps your corporate office. Even more menacing, Irena Haiduk, also Chicago-based and also exhibiting new work, will haunt the eaves of the Renaissance Society’s transformed gallery with the Sirens of Greek mythology, luring visitors unexpectedly into a debate on the revolutionary possibilities of art and social change amidst current political upheaval worldwide. Read the rest of this entry »