Visual arts of Chicago refers to paintings, prints, illustrations, textile art, sculpture, ceramics and other visual artworks produced in Chicago or by people with a connection to Chicago. Since World War II, Chicago visual art has had a strong individualistic streak, little influenced by outside fashions. "One of the unique characteristics of Chicago," said Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts curator Bob Cozzolino, "is there's always been a very pronounced effort to not be derivative, to not follow the status quo." The Chicago art world has been described as having "a stubborn sense ... of tolerant pluralism." However, Chicago's art scene is "critically neglected." Critic Andrew Patner has said, "Chicago's commitment to figurative painting, dating back to the post-War period, has often put it at odds with New York critics and dealers." It is argued that Chicago art is rarely found in Chicago museums; some of the most remarkable Chicago artworks are found in other cities (such as the brilliantly warped epic drawings of Henry Darger at the American Folk Art Museum in New York City, or Carlos Cortez' collection of early twentieth-century Chicago "Wobbly" (Industrial Workers of the World) woodcut prints, now in the Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University in Detroit).
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago was founded in 1879, from the remains of an earlier school founded in 1866 (thus the school predates the museum of the same name). Early students and faculty were conservative and derivative in their tastes, imitating popular European models. Arthur B. Davies, a former SAIC student and one of "the Eight" was considered a disappointment for being a member of a radical group of urban modernists. In 1913, SAIC students held a protest with costumes and bonfires against the Chicago showing of the Armory Show, a collection of the best new modern art; the newspapers described the students' activity as a riot.
Only a year later the African-American realist Archibald J. Motley, graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; he kept his modern, jazz-influenced paintings secret for some years after.
For many years the Art Institute of Chicago regularly held annual exhibits of local artists, but these ended decades ago. Mary Agnes Yerkes, (1886–1989), was an American Impressionist painter and one such exhibitor at AIC from 1912-1915. Born in Oak Park, she studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, where she also taught, and the at the currently named School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is noted for her plein-air painting while camping the American West and its National Parks.
The Chicago art scene was not strictly an all-boys club however; Sr. Maria Stanisia was able to overcome the patriarchal attitudes both within early twentieth century Chicago and the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church to become acclaimed as one of the greatest painters in the field of religious art. Another woman artist Gertrude Abercrombie who like Stanisia attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, sold her surrealist paintings in art fairs that took place near the Art Institute of Chicago.
Early evidence of Chicago's unique style came with Ivan Albright, with his "excruciatingly detailed surfaces depicting things in states of decay." Eldzier Cortor documented African-American life for the WPA. Vera Berdich, an influential surrealist printmaker, taught many future Chicago Imagists at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Post-War art in Chicago was more figurative and less abstract than the New York fashion dictated, and was largely ignored by New York dealers and critics. Chicago artists rejected the abstract aesthetics of New York modernists, preferring strong surrealism, "following their own vision," and "savage political satire."
In the late 1960s, a group of former students of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, many of whom had been mentored by teacher-artist Ray Yoshida, organized a series of exhibits at the Hyde Park Art Center. Their art was notable for its surrealism and cartoon-influenced grotesques.
Strictly speaking, they were three different groups: The earliest was the "Monster Roster", which included Cosmo Campoli, Leon Golub, Nancy Spero, and Karl Wirsum; then the "Hairy Who", which included Art Green, Gladys Nilsson, and Jim Nutt; and finally the Chicago Imagists, which included Roger Brown, Ed Paschke, and Barbara Rossi.
According to Imagist Ed Paschke, the Imagists felt liberated by a lack of critical coverage. "There was a sense that no one much cared what we did here. We weren't going to get a whole lot of national attention. We could do what we wanted to do." After Paschke's death, in 2004, a New York critic infamously said that Paschke's "contribution to the art of his time was somewhat obscured by his distance from New York." At that same time, Chicago artists Tony Fitzpatrick and Wesley Kimler and art consultant Paul Klein stirred outrage when they reported that not a single Chicago museum had any of Paschke's work on display (a claim that was later disputed).
Under the leadership of Penelope and Franklin Rosemont, the Chicago Surrealist Group came together with both artistic and political ideals. In 1976 the group played a major role in organizing the World Surrealist Exhibition at the Gallery Black Swan.
Chicago produced several photorealists, including Arne Besser, and Richard Estes. Many photorealists were collected by Morton Neumann "against the grain of the prevailing critical thought at the time" (which espoused abstract expressionism), and exhibited at Chicago's Terra Museum of American Art.
Over the last few decades, many contemporary Chicago artists have become internationally successful. A persistent problem for the development of art scenes in Chicago has been the fact that, in the past, a large number of artists began in Chicago, but had to relocate elsewhere before gaining attention. Curator Robert Cozzolino sees this positively, stating that we must "recognize a powerful Chicago diaspora." Such artists include Claes Oldenburg, Elizabeth Murray, Richard Estes, Robert Indiana, Joan Mitchell, Georgia O'Keeffe, and many others.
Although no overarching theme or style characterizes Chicago's contemporary art, many contemporary critics contend that institutional support has favored Neo-Conceptual work almost to exclusion. Chicago art is nevertheless diverse and pluralistic, as is art in general. Contemporary Chicago artists continue to explore personal styles. Although abstraction has never been as strong in Chicago as in New York, there are noteworthy Chicago abstract artists, such as William Conger, who paints brightly colored, sprightly designs, and Rodney Carswell, whose work is more formal and cooler; and conceptual artists such as photographer Jeanne Dunning and installation artist Kay Rosen. Chicago's other notable contemporary artists are too numerous to name; but a few who would make any list are Kerry James Marshall, Dan Peterman, Gregg Bordowitz, Julia Fish, Wesley Kimler, Tony Fitzpatrick and Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle.
Robert Guinan paints psychologically penetrating portraits of bar patrons and jazz musicians which are very popular in France, but he is almost unknown in Chicago. Laurie Hogin continues the grotesque Chicago tradition with lush, Dutch-style portraits of cartoonishly savage animals. Ellen Lanyon's paintings show "fairy-tale gentleness and antiquarian whimsy." Riva Lehrer, herself disabled, paints intense, sympathetic, surreal portraits of disabled persons. Richard Loving paints luminous, spiritual abstractions. Tim Lowly, who has mastered the difficult medium of egg tempera, paints heartbreaking spiritual pictures of seemingly ill children. Audrey Niffenegger paints beautifully weird surreal images and writes acclaimed fiction as well. Frank Piatek paints not-quite-abstracts of giant, writhing tube-forms. Judith Raphael paints pugnacious little girls posed like classical artworks. Patrick Skoff leaves his paintings in public places for people to find and keep.Matt Lamb, a self-taught artist, creates luminous expressionist paintings with bold uses of color, whimsical figures and symbols, and unlikely combinations of mediums. Maria Tomasula paints exquisitely realistic, symbolic still-lives. Wesley Kimler paints expressive, gestural, hybrid paintings that combine abstract and figurative elements in theatrical, sometimes grotesque and highly creative ways. John F. Miller taught for a few decades at the SAIC and, during the bulk of that period, produced paintings and some drawings in an abstract style. Since the late 1990s, Miller has produced most of his work using compters and graphics software. Mark Staff Brandl combines the influences of comic books, sign-painting and philosophy in talented paintings and installations which are accessible, intellectually demanding, and warily subversive.
Cat Chow constructs dresses out of subversive materials. Richard Hunt sculpts ruggedly abstract commentaries on social issues. Kerry James Marshall paints and sculpts multi-media works commenting on African-American life.
These same impulses also appeared in Chicago's lively Street photography scene, gaining notoriety through artists centered around the Institute of Design such as Harry Callahan, Aaron Siskind, Leon Lewandowski as well as in the work of nanny-savant Vivian Maier. Ray K. Metzker and Barbara Crane studied at the Institute of Design in the 1950s. They spread the ideas of the Institute of Design teaching photography in the second half of the 20th century. Metzker was Philadelphia based and Crane was based in Chicago. Bob Thall's beautiful, bleak photographs of Chicago-area architecture have also won much acclaim.
Contemporary illustrators include Jay Ryan, whose hand-silkscreened posters have advertised many a rock band, and fantasist Scott Gustafson. Tony Fitzpatrick etches wild, detailed, tattoo-like pop images.
Chicago had a revival, dating to the 1960s, of public mural art, involving local artists and community members. Chicago Public Art Group is a non profit cultural organization in Chicago that organizes and promotes creation of community public art. Founded in 1971, several of its recent works have been large bricolage mosaics in city underpasses.
Today, Jeff Zimmerman paints photorealistic portrait murals, which can be found in various neighborhoods and restaurants in Chicago and Cincinnati.
Chicago has a strong tradition of satirical, even grotesque art and illustration. The early books of L. Frank Baum were illustrated with the strange work of William Wallace Denslow. The Chicago tradition of political satire is seen in installation artist Öyvind Fahlström, cartoonish artist Hy Roth, and actual cartoonists Heather McAdams and Nicole Hollander. Other Chicago cartoonists recognised by the art world include Lynda Barry, Dan Clowes, Jay Lynch and Chris Ware (whose work was shown at the 2002 Whitney Biennial). Significant comics artists from Chicago include Jessica Abel, "Herblock" (Herbert Block), animator Walt Disney, adventure satirist Phil Foglio, and goth cartoonist Jill Thompson.
In the 1990s, a group of Chicago collectors, including Bob Roth, founder of the Chicago Reader, and Ann Nathan and Judy Saslow, both of whom have opened acclaimed galleries, organized Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, which leads tours of Midwestern self-taught artists and has its own exhibition space.
Paul Waggoner, an eccentric himself, was an art dealer and champion of outsider art.
Carl Hammer, an art dealer in Chicago, has handled much strange, figurative outsider art, including the epic novel, illustrated with hermaphroditic girls traced from coloring books, of Henry Darger, and the naive portraits of society ladies of Lee Godie. Hammer also represents Mr. Imagination, a self-taught bottlecap muralist Mr. Imagination, whose work is in several museums, also participated in the 2007 public art project, "Cool Globes: Hot Ideas for a Cooler Planet".
In the 1980s, the Museum of Contemporary Art, along with the Art Institute of Chicago and Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs, attempted to put on a show of contemporary Chicago art. Called "The Chicago Show", it was supposed to celebrate Chicago's artistic diversity. Embarrassingly, 84 of the 90 artists chosen by the 5-member blind jury were found to be white. The organizers published an apology in the exhibit catalogue and invited twenty minority artists who had not been juried in to participate. Half of the invited artists, angered by this condescension, refused and organized a counter-exhibit at the Chicago Cultural Center.
On April 15, 1989, the same night that the Hyde Park Art Center celebrated its 50th anniversary, a devastating fire destroyed most of an entire block of important galleries and art spaces in the River North gallery district.
In spring of 1996, the Feigen, Inc. gallery's exhibit of Gregory Green's "10,000 Doses" and "Recipe for Making 'LSD' in the Kitchen" was raided by the Chicago police, who confiscated and broke open the artworks. No drugs were found.
In 1996 the Museum of Contemporary Art, to get over the embarrassment of "The Chicago Show", attempted a survey of Chicago Art called "Art in Chicago: 1945-1995". It was criticized by the press as cramped, inadequate, and incomprehensive. Its catalogue was judged a disappointment by Dennis Adrian, an art critic and participant, who called it "visually ... an atrocity of staggering proportions."
In the last decade, all major print publications in Chicago have ceased seriously covering the visual arts . In 2009, the Chicago Reader, an alternative weekly newspaper, reduced its formerly complete art listings of galleries and museums and regular art reviews by Fred Camper to "a smattering of listings and pictures". The Chicago Tribune, one of Chicago's two major newspapers, never had gallery or art listings and fired its sole dedicated fine arts reporter, Alan G. Artner, in 2009. And the Chicago Sun-Times, the other of Chicago's two major newspapers, has no gallery or art listings and no dedicated arts reporter, although Kevin Nance has covered some fine art issues along with movies and popular culture.
Additionally, The New Art Examiner (from Chicago) and Dialogue magazine (Columbus, Ohio) reported on Chicago and midwestern arts communities until they both folded in 2002, though the New Art Examiner relaunched in 2015' Chicago Gallery News, a glossy color magazine published three times a year, lists gallery shows but has no articles. Gallery Guide magazine publishes a Chicago/midwest edition which is similar.
However, smaller online and print publications have continued to cover the art scene in Chicago and have increased dramatically in number in recent years. Since 1988, New City Magazine has covered the visual arts in Chicago, joined in the 1990s by Lumpen Magazine.. Gapers Block, a Chicago-focused web publication established in 2003, added coverage with their arts and culture section. They were soon followed by Paul Klein's Art Letter in 2004 and the Bad At Sports podcast and blog in 2005. In 2008, print-based Proximity Magazine was established, joined by two more print publications, Jettison Quarterly, and The School of the Art Institute's F News Magazine in 2009. Also in 2009, Chicago Art Magazine broke off of Art Talk Chicago, part of the Chicago Tribune-sponsored blog network, to start their own independent online platform. Chicago Art Review, which ran from 2009-2011 and is currently in hiatus, began in 2009 as well. In 2010, Sixty Inches From Center was established and includes The Chicago Arts Archive, a web publication focusing on visual art in Chicago.
Additionally, Chicago Artists Resource, launched by the Department of Cultural Affairs in 2005, provides articles on visual art in addition to providing resources and tools for Chicago artists.
Local artists' interests are represented by the Chicago Artists' Coalition, a nonprofit advocacy organization, which has a monthly newsletter, the Chicago Artists' News.
American Realism was a style in art, music and literature that depicted contemporary social realities and the lives and everyday activities of ordinary people. The movement began in literature in the mid-19th century, and became an important tendency in visual art in the early 20th century. Whether a cultural portrayal or a scenic view of downtown New York City, American realist works attempted to define what was real.
In the U.S. at the beginning of the 20th century a new generation of painters, writers and journalists were coming of age. Many of the painters felt the influence of older U.S. artists such as Thomas Eakins, Mary Cassatt, John Singer Sargent, James McNeill Whistler, Winslow Homer, Childe Hassam, J. Alden Weir, Thomas Pollock Anshutz, and William Merritt Chase. However they were interested in creating new and more urbane works that reflected city life and a population that was more urban than rural in the U.S. as it entered the new century.Architecture of Chicago
The buildings and architecture of Chicago have influenced and reflected the history of American architecture. The built environment of Chicago is reflective of the city's history and multicultural heritage, featuring prominent buildings in a variety of styles by many important architects. Since most structures within the downtown area were destroyed by the Great Chicago Fire in 1871 (the most famous exception being the Water Tower) Chicago buildings are noted for their originality rather than their antiquity.
Chicago is world-famous for its plethora of unique architectural styles, from Chicago Bungalows and Two-Flats to the grand Graystones along Logan Boulevard and Lawndale Avenue, from the skyscrapers of the Loop as well as a wealth of sacred architecture such as the city's ornate "Polish Cathedrals".Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute of Chicago, founded in 1879 and located in Chicago's Grant Park, is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the United States. Recognized for its curatorial efforts and popularity among visitors, the museum hosts approximately 1.5 million guests annually. Its collection, stewarded by 11 curatorial departments, is encyclopedic, and includes iconic works such as Georges Seurat's A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, Pablo Picasso's The Old Guitarist, Edward Hopper's Nighthawks, and Grant Wood's American Gothic. Its permanent collection of nearly 300,000 works of art is augmented by more than 30 special exhibitions mounted yearly that illuminate aspects of the collection and present cutting-edge curatorial and scientific research.
As a research institution, the Art Institute also has a conservation and conservation science department, five conservation laboratories, and one of the largest art history and architecture libraries in the country—the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries.
The growth of the collection has warranted several additions to the museum's original 1893 building, which was constructed for the World's Columbian Exposition of the same year. The most recent expansion, the Modern Wing designed by Renzo Piano, opened in 2009 and increased the museum's footprint to nearly one million square feet, making it the second-largest art museum in the United States, after the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Art Institute is associated with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a leading art school, making it one of the few remaining unified arts institutions in the United States.EXPO Chicago
EXPO Chicago is an international contemporary and modern art exhibition held each year in Chicago, Illinois. In 2012, it took over the duties of a prior organization, Art Chicago, which began in 1980. Art Chicago was Chicago's longest-running major contemporary art exposition, but was cancelled after the 2011 fair, by its then owner Merchandise Mart Properties due to financial problems.Subsequently, the group under the name EXPO CHICAGO, decided to revitalize the annual International Exposition of Contemporary & Modern Art at Navy Pier.International Museum of Surgical Science
The International Museum of Surgical Science is a museum located in the Gold Coast neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. It is operated by The International College of Surgeons and features exhibits dealing with various aspects of Eastern and Western medicine. It was founded by Dr. Max Thorek in 1954. The museum's exhibits are displayed by theme or surgical discipline. Displays include photographs, paintings and drawings, sculpture, medical equipment, skeletons, medical specimens and historic artifacts. The library contains more than 5,000 rare medical texts.Housed in a 1917 mansion designed by Howard Van Doren Shaw as a replica of a building at Versailles, the museum was originally built for Chicago socialite Eleanor Robinson Countiss Whiting who died in 1931. The International College of Surgeons acquired the building in 1950. In addition to displaying medical artifacts the museum has, since 1998, hosted a number of contemporary art exhibitions in an effort to broaden its appeal to visitors. In 2010 visitor numbers were at 20,000 a year, by 2013 this had increased to between 25,000 and 30,000.List of museums and cultural institutions in Chicago
The city of Chicago, Illinois has many cultural institutions and museums, large and small. Major cultural institutions include:
the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Architecture Foundation, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Goodman Theater, Joffrey Ballet, Central Public Harold Washington Library, and the Chicago Cultural Center, all in the Loop;
Lincoln Park's Lincoln Park Zoo, Lincoln Park Conservatory, Chicago History Museum, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and Steppenwolf Theatre;
the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, and Adler Planetarium in the Near South Side's Museum Campus;
the Museum of Science and Industry, Oriental Institute, Smart Museum of Art, and DuSable Museum in Hyde Park;
the Museum of Contemporary Art, The Second City comedy troupe, and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater in Near North Side;
the Garfield Park Conservatory;
and Pilsen's National Museum of Mexican Art;
as well as the Brookfield Zoo, Chicago Botanic Gardens, and Morton Arboretum in nearby suburbs.Madlener House
The Madlener House, also known as the Albert F. Madlener House, is a 20th-century mansion located in the Gold Coast neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois, USA. It is the work of architect Richard E. Schmidt (1865-1958) and designer Hugh M.G. Garden (1873-1961). Commissioned in 1901 and completed in 1902, the house was built as the residence for Albert Fridolin Madlener, a German-American brewery owner, and his wife, Elsa Seipp Madlener. Since 1963, it has been the headquarters of the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. In 1970, The Madlener House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and in 1973, it came under the protection of a Chicago ordinance protecting the city's historical and architectural landmarks. The house was fully remodeled and renovated by architect Daniel Brenner (1917-1977) in 1963-64.Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago is a contemporary art museum near Water Tower Place in downtown Chicago in Cook County, Illinois, United States. The museum, which was established in 1967, is one of the world's largest contemporary art venues. The museum's collection is composed of thousands of objects of Post-World War II visual art. The museum is run gallery-style, with individually curated exhibitions throughout the year. Each exhibition may be composed of temporary loans, pieces from their permanent collection, or a combination of the two.The museum has hosted several notable debut exhibitions including Frida Kahlo's first U.S. exhibition and Jeff Koons' first solo museum exhibition. Koons later presented an exhibit at the Museum that broke the museum's attendance record. The current record for the most attended exhibition is the 2017 exhibition of Takashi Murakami work. Its collection, which includes Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Cindy Sherman, Kara Walker, and Alexander Calder, contains historical samples of 1940s–1970s late surrealism, pop art, minimalism, and conceptual art; notable holdings 1980s postmodernism; as well as contemporary painting, sculpture, photography, video, installation, and related media. The museum also presents dance, theater, music, and multidisciplinary arts.
The current location at 220 East Chicago Avenue is in the Streeterville neighborhood of the Near North Side community area. Josef Paul Kleihues designed the current building after the museum conducted a 12-month search, reviewing more than 200 nominations. The museum was originally located at 237 East Ontario Street, which was originally designed as a bakery. The current building is known for its signature staircase leading to an elevated ground floor, which has an atrium, the full glass-walled east and west façades giving a direct view of the city and Lake Michigan.New Art Examiner
The New Art Examiner is a bi-monthly international magazine of critical art thinking founded in Chicago in October 1973 by Derek Guthrie and Jane Addams Allen. Publication ceased in 2002. The magazine was relaunched in Chicago, IL in Sept 2016 by the original publisher and Co-Founder Derek Guthrie and original era editors Michel Segard and Tom Mullaney. In 2017 there was a split between Guthrie and Segard leading to 2 New Art Examiners. One based out of Chicago, IL (Segard) and one based out of Corwnall, England (Guthrie). In 2019, after a protracted 2-year legal battle, Guthrie changed the name of his publication to New Art Gazette.
An Anthology of representative articles and editors from New Art Examiner was published in 2011 titled Essential New Art Examiner. Each section of the book begins with a new essay by the original editor of the pieces therein that reconsiders the era and larger issues at play in the art world when they were first published.Palette and Chisel Academy of Fine Art
The Palette and Chisel Academy of Fine Art is an association of representational artists, founded in Chicago in 1895. Palette & Chisel is the second oldest artist organization in the United States.Victoria Fuller (artist)
Victoria Barrett Fuller (born May 13, 1953) is an American artist and sculptor. Fuller is also a natural science illustrator and award-winning singer, songwriter, and musician.Visual art of the United States
Visual art of the United States or American art is visual art made in the United States or by U.S. artists. Before colonization there were many flourishing traditions of Native American art, and where the Spanish colonized Spanish Colonial architecture and the accompanying styles in other media were quickly in place. Early colonial art on the East Coast initially relied on artists from Europe, with John White (1540-c. 1593) the earliest example. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, artists primarily painted portraits, and some landscapes in a style based mainly on English painting. Furniture-makers imitating English styles and similar craftsmen were also established in the major cities, but in the English colonies, locally made pottery remained resolutely utilitarian until the 19th century, with fancy products imported.
But in the later 18th century two U.S. artists, Benjamin West and John Singleton Copley, became the most successful painters in London of history painting, then regarded as the highest form of art, giving the first sign of an emerging force in Western art. American artists who remained at home became increasingly skilled, although there was little awareness of them in Europe. In the early 19th century the infrastructure to train artists began to be established, and from 1820 the Hudson River School began to produce Romantic landscape painting that was original and matched the huge scale of U.S. landscapes. The American Revolution produced a demand for patriotic art, especially history painting, while other artists recorded the frontier country. A parallel development taking shape in rural U.S. was the American craft movement, which began as a reaction to the industrial revolution.
After 1850 Academic art in the European style flourished, and as richer Americans became very wealthy, the flow of European art, new and old, to the US began; this has continued ever since. Museums began to be opened to display much of this. Developments in modern art in Europe came to the U.S. from exhibitions in New York City such as the Armory Show in 1913. After World War II, New York replaced Paris as the center of the art world. Since then many U.S. movements have shaped Modern and Postmodern art. Art in the United States today covers a huge range of styles.