Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Review: Thomas Grünfeld/Corbett vs. Dempsey

Galleries & Museums, Media & Genres, Multimedia, Sculpture, Ukrainian Village/East Village 1 Comment »
Thomas Grunfled. "HdL (orange)," 2014. Iron, wood, mirror and leather. 21 1/2 x 9 3/4 x 14 inches.

Thomas Grünfeld. “HdL (orange),” 2014. Iron, wood, mirror and leather. 21 1/2 x 9 3/4 x 14 inches.


What one is dealing with here are the dreams of a designer: sculptures and wall-mounted pieces of extreme oddity and pulchritude wherein the former masks the later, with the strangeness even further couched in a design sensibility not too far from the elegance and desire one finds evoked in the sweeping arms and spinal column of a chair or the glorious lucifer, a beautifully crafted lamp. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Florian Baudrexel/Corbett vs. Dempsey

Collage, East Village, Galleries & Museums, Media & Genres, Noble Square No Comments »
Florian Baudrexel. "Cogaxed," 2015. Collage with magazine paper, Styrofoam passe-partout, wooden frame. 16.5 x 12.5 x 0.75 inches.

Florian Baudrexel. “Cogaxed,” 2015. Collage with magazine paper, Styrofoam passe-partout, wooden frame. 16.5 x 12.5 x 0.75 inches.


Like many historic artists, Florian Baudrexel seems less concerned with presenting new or personal visions than with outperforming his rivals, packing more wallop per square inch than other artists who cut and paste printed material. Expecting his work to be the same scale as similar graphic collages in this gallery’s recent Albert Oehlen show, I could not at first find his miniatures on the gallery wall. Recalling the highly detailed woodcuts of Albrecht Dürer, Baudrexel is certainly not the first German artist to fit a lot of energy into a very small space. Read the rest of this entry »

Art 50 2015: Chicago’s Visual Vanguard

Art 50 1 Comment »


Long heralded as a mecca for alternative practices, collectivity and socially engaged art, Chicago increasingly finds itself among the most visible international art destinations precisely because of its distinct character and openness to change and growth. What makes this city fertile ground for launching new talent and sustaining confirmed genius? A complex and ever-changing network of curators, collectors, administrators, critics, dealers, educators and other enthusiasts cultivate Chicago’s artistic vitality and diversity. The Art 50 is Newcity’s annual snapshot of Chicago’s art ecosystem. This year, we track the power players who shape the terrain in which we thrive.

The Art 50 was written by Elliot J. Reichert, Maria Girgenti, Abraham Ritchie, Kate Sierzputowski and B. David Zarley.

Cover and interior photos by Joe Mazza/Brave Lux on location at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Albert Oehlen/Corbett vs. Dempsey

Collage, Painting, Ukrainian Village/East Village No Comments »
Albert Oehlen. "Untitled (cow 4)," 2011 paper on canvas, 59" x 72 3/4"

Albert Oehlen. “Untitled (cow 4),” 2011
paper on canvas, 59″ x 72 3/4″


Cutting and collaging advertisements to fill the gallery with a herd of cattle—bright, cacophonous and just on the edge of perception—Oehlen’s new show at Corbett vs. Dempsey is called “Rawhide.” The cows-on-canvas (which seem intimidatingly large, though they’re almost all just shy of five feet by six) are rounded up for market, but Oehlen has confused the juxtaposed advertisements to the point of mere decoration, so they can’t sell us anything beyond themselves. True to “Rawhide,” the 1959-1966 TV series that saw cowboys lead a cattle drive to market, Oehlen is giving us cows neither here nor there: the bovines shimmer in and out of view, competing with the flashiness of billboards. The theme song incites us, like the collagist headed to market, to “Cut ’em out/ Ride ’em in.” Read the rest of this entry »

Breakout Artists 2015: Chicago’s Next Generation of Image Makers

Artist Profiles, Breakout Artists 1 Comment »
Cover by Matthew Hoffman, Breakout Artist 2006. Photo: Cheryl Hinman

Cover by Matthew Hoffman, Breakout Artist 2006. Photo: Cheryl Hinman

Breakout Artists is our annual showcase of Chicago artists we think you should know. This is our twelfth edition.

Lists like these always risk reduction, betray biases and can say more about the limits of their host publication’s scope than about the worthiness of artists—those mentioned or not. They persist as conversation starters: their value isn’t solely in what is printed here, but in the excited discussions and debates that proceed from them. Our circulation spikes around these featured lists, and so does the mail we receive. Understanding those contexts is an important part of appreciating what a list like our annual Breakout Artists can and can’t do.

But while many lists of this sort are ranked or correspond to particular forms of prestige, our Breakout Artists have always been determined by a more mysterious (and certainly subjective) calculus. I had to begin by wondering out of what these artists were meant to be breaking. This year, we are celebrating and advocating for ten artists’ practices who have seen breakthroughs in their work and are breaking out into higher stakes, wider visibility, a broader range of media, or expansions of what art can accomplish. Their practices subvert racial and gender stereotypes, crisscross into adjacent fields like illustration and design, enmesh studio work with curating and other socially engaged creative moves, run amuck in traditional mediums like painting and sculpture, while also finding ways to work in new places outside galleries or on the web.

The artists we’ve selected are at different stages of their careers; this is not an emerging artist list, although a couple have recently completed BFAs. If there is a common feature, it is one that shows the continued gravitational pull of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago on the arts cultivated in this town. Despite being one of the most expensive college educations in the country (for art or anything else) and in the face of perpetual wondering about the relevance of higher education, each of this year’s Breakout Artists have brushed through SAIC—whether studying there or, like me, teaching there. These artists’ work happens not only in sanctioned art world temples, but in apartment spaces far out on the Green Line, in the neighborhoods surrounding Cook County Jail, from Rogers Park to Washington Park, and sometimes in Canada. Whether in major arts institutions or in the dispersed expanded field of where creative exploration can happen, these are artists worth knowing about and watching out for the great things they are doing. (Matt Morris)

Review: Saccoccio, Metzger, Barazani/Corbett vs. Dempsey

Drawings, Painting, Ukrainian Village/East Village No Comments »
Jackie Saccoccio. "Square in Hole," 2014 oil and mica on linen, 79" x 79"

Jackie Saccoccio. “Square in Hole,” 2014
oil and mica on linen, 79″ x 79″


Part of their “March Trifecta” of exhibitions, Jackie Saccoccio’s new all-over paintings are unified by a concentrated hovering apparition. The subtractive process of layering paint passages evoke openly flayed nervous systems in controlled pours, drips and squeegeed treatments of indulgent color palettes. Saccoccio’s “Square in Hole” is an enthralling break from negotiating potentially formulaic x and y-axis of “portraits.” Vectors of negative space between drips are exuberantly dashed-in. Paintings hung strategically in succession push the threshold of what one wall should be made to carry. Expansiveness and restraint are emphasized. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Artist David Hartt Appointed to MCA Board of Trustees

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David Hartt, artist and new member to the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago's Board of Trustees. Courtesy of Braxton Black.

David Hartt, artist and new member to the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s Board of Trustees/Photo: Braxton Black

In mid-December, chair of the Board of Trustees at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA) King Harris announced the addition of artist David Hartt to the MCA’s Board of Trustees. Hartt is the first artist on the MCA’s board since the new building at 220 East Chicago was constructed, which officially opened to the public in June 1996. Sculptor Richard Hunt, whom the MCA is honoring for his eightieth birthday with a special exhibition currently on view, was the first artist trustee in the 1970s. Joining Hartt as members of the board are current Norway-based telecommunications equipment company, Eltek, ASA board member Dia Weil, director of Graff Diamonds Eve Rogers and board member of the Whitney Museum of American Art and Colgate University in New York, Nancy Crown. Their appointment coincides with Teresa Samala de Guzman’s appointment as the MCA’s chief operating officer, a duty she assumed responsibility of on December 8, 2014.

In an email exchange, MCA director Madeleine Grynsztejn explains that the museum is very much artist-activated and audience-engaged, saying, “Artists are central to everything we do and the artist’s presence assures integrity at the governance level around our artist-activated commitment in particular.” When selecting board members, they take into account the expertise and wisdom each individual can bring to the MCA currently, as well as how their knowledge can work with the MCA’s future aspirations. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Josiah McElheny/Corbett vs. Dempsey

Sculpture, Ukrainian Village/East Village No Comments »
Josiah McElheny. "End of a Love Affair," 2014, handblown and polished glass, douglas fir, speakers, amplifier, industrial audio player, electric wiring, cut and polished blue sheet glass, brass control knobs, felt, hardware, 55 x 43 x 23 inches

Josiah McElheny. “End of a Love Affair,” 2014,
handblown and polished glass, douglas fir, speakers, amplifier, industrial audio player, electric wiring, cut and polished blue sheet glass, brass control knobs, felt, hardware,
55 x 43 x 23 inches

Aided by a fake ID, I was baptized into the church of hard-bop sometime in the mid-nineties in one of Cleveland’s many hidden jazz spots; a cramped subterranean chamber where sound and smoke, perfume and sweat mixed freely in the dimly lit haze. The music was immediate: thundering drums coupled with blowing horns that rang-out joyous one moment, mournful the next. Spiritual by way of the body—the experience possessed a physicality so intense it was transcendent.

In contrast to that overwhelming sensuality, MacArthur award winner Josiah McElheny’s “Dusty Groove,” a meticulously crafted four-piece sculptural ode to some of the twentieth century’s great musical minds (among them jazz legends Wes Montgomery and Sun Ra), comes off coolly intellectual, even a little remote. Imagine jazz goes to grad school featuring Donald Judd as your thesis advisor, and you’re part way there. These pieces stimulate the mind, but they don’t necessarily stir the soul. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Magalie Guérin/Corbett vs. Dempsey

Painting, Wicker Park/Bucktown No Comments »
Magalie Guérin. "Untitled (hat-profile), 2013-14, oil on canvas

Magalie Guérin. “Untitled (hat-profile),” 2013-14, oil on canvas


Modest in size but not shy at all, five colorful oil paintings by Magalie Guérin dance with each other across Corbett vs. Dempsey’s west wing. The dance is a type of choreographed freestyle—alive, morphing and flirtatious, the canvases beckon toward viewers to come closer. Through the physicality of the paintings’ surfaces, one can easily trace the artist’s mark and extensive process of rework. Colorful shapes float, overlap and morph together at the mercy of the artist and the observation of the audience. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Gene Siskel Film Center to Host Screening of Chicago Imagists Documentary

Loop, News etc. No Comments »
Karl Wirsum, Art Green, Gladys Nilsson, Suellen Rocca, Jim Nutt, 1967 (Photo by Charles Krejcsi)

Karl Wirsum, Art Green, Gladys Nilsson, Suellen Rocca, Jim Nutt, 1967/Photo: Charles Krejcsi

The Gene Siskel Film Center has announced that in the first week of October it will host a run of Leslie Buchbinder’s first feature-length film, “Hairy Who & the Chicago Imagists,” a documentary that introduces broader audiences to the lively Chicago-based art movement that contested the primacy of Pop Art in the 1960s with wacky and cleverly funny cartoon figurative painting. The documentary will screen daily from Friday, October 3 through Thursday October 9 (full schedule here). Friday’s screening on opening night will feature appearances from director Leslie Buchbinder, producer Brian Ashby and editor Ben Kolak. Then on Sunday, artists Jim Falconer, Art Green, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Suellen Rocca and Karl Wirsum will be present at the 5:30pm screening. On the last evening of the run, Thursday, October 9, Ashby returns with screenwriter/music advisor John Corbett and sound designer/engineer Alex Inglizian. Read the rest of this entry »