In this first major retrospective for a prominent figure of abstract art in Chicago, over 60 mostly large-scale works trace the evolution of the artist’s style over the course of his 50-year career. Conger’s vibrantly colored abstract paintings emphasize geometric forms and formal composition, yet still reflect figurative, organic, and architectural points of reference. Often, the works’ titles connect them to literature, the artist’s memories, and metaphoric content.
William Conger: Paintings 1958-2008 will be on view in the Chicago Cultural Center’s Fourth Floor Exhibit Hall from January 24 through March 29, 2009. There will be an opening reception on Friday, January 30, from 6 to 8 p.m. On Thursdays, February 5, March 12, and March 26, at 12:15 p.m., the public is invited to gallery talks with Lanny Silverman, Curator of Exhibitions for the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. Artist William Conger will be at the talks on February 5 and March 26. Admission to the exhibition and these associated programs is free.
While Chicago has gained a wide-ranging reputation as a breeding ground for image-based art, there exists a much wider range of art production in the city than many suppose. Abstraction is alive and well, and arguably its preeminent master, William Conger, is well deserving of this long-awaited 50-year retrospective.
William Conger’s work is informed by his life in Chicago and the art made there. Adeptly bridging abstraction and representation with subtle infusions of figure and landscape, the art blends very formal abstract composition with glimpses into the actual world. The content that is at once personal and worldly alludes to the nature of art-making, history, and geography. Many of these contain local references evident in his titles including teasing hints of Nelson Algren, Chicago history, and the city’s street names.
Also on the fourth floor of the Chicago Cultural Center, the exhibit “Collaborative Vision: The Poetic Dialogue Project” will be on view from January 31 – April 5, 2009, in the Sidney R. Yates Gallery. On exhibit in the Chicago Cultural Center’s first floor Michigan Avenue Galleries is “Two Lithuanian Printmakers: Eglė Vertelkatė & Birutė Zokaitytė” through March 29, 2009 and “Robert Davis/Michael Langlois: House of the Rising Sun” and “Scott Wolniak – Ungray: Color, Light, and Other Balms” through April 5, 2009. “Louis DeMarco: Meteorology of the Mind” is on view in the Project Onward Gallery through February 16, 2009, and “Hidden Treasures: The Lane Tech Murals” continues through March 1, 2009, in the Chicago Rooms.
Viewing hours for William Conger: Paintings 1958-2008 and other exhibitions at the Chicago Cultural Center are Mondays through Thursdays, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Fridays, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturdays 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Chicago Cultural Center is closed on holidays. Admission to Chicago Cultural Center exhibitions is free.
Organized by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, William Conger: Paintings 1958-2008 is made possible through the generous Presenting Support of David and Mary Winton Green.
This exhibition has also been made possible, in part, through the Leadership Support of The Barrad Family, Northwestern University, and Mary Valerio, with additional support provided by Tony Fitzpatrick, Brian Herbstritt, Ruth Horwich, Sandra and Michael Perlow, Jeffrey K. Mercer and Linda Glass, James and Brenda Grusecki, Bill and Chris Robb, and three anonymous donors.
Exhibitions and related educational programming presented by the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs at the Chicago Cultural Center are partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency. Transportation support is provided by United Airlines, the Official Airline of the Chicago Cultural Center. Lawry’s the Prime Rib is the restaurant sponsor of Chicago Cultural Center exhibitions.
For more information about William Conger: Paintings 1958-2008 and Chicago Cultural Center exhibitions, the public can visit www.chicagoculturalcenter.org or call 312.744.6630. (TTY: 312.744.2947).