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Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA)

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To You, From Me // Meditations on the Poetics of Revolution: A Letter to Kerry James Marshall

by Tempestt Hazel
I. I don’t subscribe to transcendental notions, generally. I like for things to be firmly rooted in reality and then negotiate from there. I’m not evading, trying to avoid, or trying to distance myself from anything. Let’s get in it. As most of us recognize...no matter how dire circumstances seem to be for human beings, we always find a way to preserve the capacity for joy and the capacity for pleasure at the same time that we’re negotiating disturbing and troubling circumstances. This is just how we do it. I think we should never forget that. [1] Sometimes it&rsqu... [more]
Posted by Tempestt Hazel on 4/29
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Behind the Grin: Unmasking the Political Aesthetic in Kathryn Andrews' Run for President

by Stephanie Cristello
Few things could be as topical. The image-culture created out of broadcast television’s commoditized framing of electoral coverage is precise, yet entirely ubiquitous. Kathryn Andrews’ Run for President, currently on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, pictures the hamster wheel of these aesthetic politics. Under the premise of a fictive presidential campaign, Andrews uses Bozo the Clown as the central figure within her electoral landscape. The personas born from Bozo represent either the Left or the Right (his party is unclear—he is, after all, red and blue). Th... [more]
Posted by Stephanie Cristello on 1/18
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Office Life

By: Amy Haddad A five-piece art exhibition evokes how office life, and our world, is changing. Eric Wesley, “DPS #9 (Pomegranate).” The movie “Office Space” satirizes white collar office jobs during the 1990s, mocking the hierarchical structure, rows of cubicles and endless amount of paperwork found in office life. Although movies and television shows have parodied office life for years, conventions appear to be changing, as the virtual and physical worlds continue to collide. This being so, the “Out of Office” exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago is... [more]
Posted by Amy Haddad on 9/5/15
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Sizing the Immaterial: S, M, L, XL at MCA

by Stephanie Cristello
Stratospheres of experience have been described in art since the early narratives of heaven and earth. Since Biblical cosmology, our understanding of time and place has been oriented according to predetermined concepts of measure—even time is an invented unit. But how do we measure the intangible? In a system where contemporary art is increasingly judged by scale, how do we quantify the poetics of experience? Robert Morris, Portal, 1964. Collection of the MCA Chicago, gift of Mrs. Robert B. Mayer. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago. © 2014 Robert Morris / Artists Rights Socie... [more]
Posted by Stephanie Cristello on 5/12/15
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Space in All of Its Capacities

By: Amy Haddad Kris Martin, “T.Y.F.F.S.H.” The “S, M, L, XL” exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in Chicago is a small but compelling show. The exhibition opens explaining how some sculptors in the 1960s moved art from the pedestal into the viewer’s space. This theme has continued over the past five decades in various sizes, as the exhibition’s title suggests. As visitors experience the physical and mental attributes of space, they may begin to think about other ways artists are using space today. Of the exhibition’s four pieces, two st... [more]
Posted by Amy Haddad on 8/21/15
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The Making of Violence: Doris Salcedo at the MCA Chicago

by Ionit Behar
Internationally acclaimed artist Doris Salcedo opened her first US museum retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA) last week to great anticipation: Latin Americanists had been anxiously awaiting the opening of the Bogotá-born artist’s survey, and it seemed all of Chicago was enthusiastic as well. Co-curated by MCA Director Madeleine Grynsztejn, Curator Julie Rodrigues Widholm, and with assistance from Steven L. Bridges, the exhibition presents Salcedo’s large body of work in roughly chronological order, from her early mid-1980s Untitled installations to... [more]
Posted by Ionit Behar on 2/25/15
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Models of Translation: The Work of Sarah and Joseph Belknap

by Caroline Picard
“The ways by which men arrive at knowledge of the celestial things are hardly less wonderful than the nature of these things themselves.” —Johannes Kepler Walking down Franklin Boulevard in Chicago’s Garfield Park, an otherwise nondescript bungalow stands out because of the strange, multicolored rock jutting out of its front yard; this object—like a meteor from a sci-fi B movie—hovers 15 feet above the ground, mounted on a long metal pole. It marks the beginning of Planetoids, a solo exhibition at Franklin Gallery where artists Sarah and Joseph B... [more]
Posted by Caroline Picard on 12/8/14
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Sarah and Joseph Belknap Translate the Solar System for Earthlings

by Caroline Picard
The ways by which men arrive at knowledge of the celestial things are hardly less wonderful than the nature of these things themselves. —Johannes Kepler Walking down Franklin Boulevard in Chicago’s Garfield Park, an otherwise nondescript bungalow stands out because of the strange, multicolored rock jutting out of its front yard; this object—like a meteor from a sci-fi B movie—hovers over 10 feet above the ground, mounted on a long metal pole. It marks the beginning of Planetoids, a solo exhibition at the Franklin Gallery where artists Sarah and Joseph Belknap careful... [more]
Posted by Caroline Picard on 12/8/14
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David Bowie Is: Star Power – An Interview with Michael Darling

by Thea Liberty Nichols
David Bowie Is, coming to the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in just a few weeks, is unprecedented to the extent that it is the first massive solo show the MCA has ever given to a musician. But as James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator Michael Darling discusses below, he was drawn to the exhibition because Bowie emulates the blending of media, the crossing over of disciplines he finds so relevant to contemporary artists’ practices. Darling was kind enough to sit down with me this month and explain how the globe–trotting blockbuster will be articulated by the MCA. In addition, he outl... [more]
Posted by Thea Liberty Nichols on 8/29/14
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Bowie Victims: Confessions from David Bowie Is at the MCA Chicago

by Natalie Hegert
I’m not sure exactly what Jon Savage meant when he referred to “Bowie victims” in his book about the birth of punk rock, England’s Dreaming, but ever since I read that phrase it stuck with me. In a way I identified with it—being a big David Bowie adherent—and didn’t necessarily consider it as a derogatory term. I figure he meant teens obsessed with Bowie, the young androgynes with their flared high waters and platform boots, teased mullets and green eye makeup, coyly copying the style of Ziggy Stardust with items patched together from charity shops and the... [more]
Posted by Natalie Hegert on 9/29/14
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Spiral Stories: Simon Starling at the MCA Chicago

by James Pepper Kelly
An Italian/Polish Fiat, wheels to the wall, is anchored over your head. In the next room, two slabs of marble dominate the space—250 kg from Italy, one ton from China—floating above the floor. They support each other by means of a simple pulley. Further into the exhibition, helium-filled jacks hold up and balance a 4,900 lb. plate of Romanian steel. These three works are given top billing in Simon Starling: Metamorphology, the artist’s first major American museum survey. Starling is overdue for recognition in the United States, where a handful of one-person shows and representation by... [more]
Posted by James Pepper Kelly on 8/22/14
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Remaking the World Around Her: Isa Genzken in Retrospective

by Thea Liberty Nichols
A career retrospective that looks like a massive, unwieldy group show. Work made over the past thirty plus years, much of which looks like it was made yesterday, some of which looks like it was made tomorrow. Isa Genzken is one of those rare artists who seems to have begun her career fully formed. Even the earliest work on view in her retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago has the presence and bearing that usually comes with the sureness of age. She’s the kind of artist, like Picasso or Bruce Nauman, who is so overflowing with good ideas that a lesser artist could steal jus... [more]
Posted by Thea Liberty Nichols on 5/2/14
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Press Release 2014 WCA Lifetime Achievement Awards

The Women’s Caucus for Art Announce the 2014 Lifetime Achievement and President’s Art & Activism Awards July 1, 2013 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEContact: Priscilla Otani, President, WCApresident@nationalwca.orgPhone: 415.606.7059 ANNOUNCING THE 2014 LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT ANDPRESIDENT’S ART & ACTIVISM AWARDS FEBRUARY 15, 2014 The Women’s Caucus for Art (WCA) announces the 2014 recipients for the Lifetime Achievement Awards: Phyllis Bramson, Harmony Hammond, Adrian Piper and Faith Wilding. The recipients for the 2014 President’s Art & Activism Award are Janice Nesser-Chu... [more]
Posted by Brenda Oelbaum on 12/10/13
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Tête-à-Tête

by Stephanie Cristello
In his 1973 text,The Anxiety of Influence, Harold Bloom cited a term called poetic misprision. What he was referring to was a process that artists, in his case literary authors, adopted in order to further themselves from their sources and avoid being derivative. As an artistic process, it’s a brilliant explanation of how to deal with appropriation and context in contemporary art – to consciously and deliberately misread your source in order to create new meaning. For The Character and Shape of Illuminated Things, the latest MCA Plaza Project by Amanda Ross-Ho, which was unveiled th... [more]
Posted by Stephanie Cristello on 7/26/13
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The Artwork of Daniel Clowes: Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron

by Thea Liberty Nichols
Daniel Clowes’ career trajectory has had a weird sort of herky-jerky-ness to it. When he started out making comics in the 1980’s, his narratives were amorphous and meandering, at times borrowing from the Surreal, with paranoid/delusional plotlines and violent, and sexually perverse, graphic imagery. This was married to his early drawings which were highly restrained; in the press walk through of his current exhibition, “Modern Cartoonist: the Art of Daniel Clowes,” on view at The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, he mentioned, while clenching an imaginary pen in his... [more]
Posted by Thea Liberty Nichols on 7/6/13
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Theaster Gates: Space is the Place

by Thea Liberty Nichols
Artist. Entrepreneur. Potter. Bureaucrat. Singer. Arts Administrator. Host. Urban Planner. Collector. The list could go on and on, but the take away from all these labels might be that Theaster Gates is hard to pinpoint or define. Because his practice combines so many disparate disciplines and mediums, it's counter productive to try and categorize the work he does, and the work he makes. Up until now, that hasn’t been too much of an issue—he’s fit comfortably in the trending, self-reflexive debates within the field of art regarding “Social Practice” or “Social... [more]
Posted by Thea Liberty Nichols on 8/30/13
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The Stillness of Destruction

by Thea Liberty Nichols
This twenty-six artist-deep group show that just opened at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago is an interesting re-examination of work by renowned artists such as Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein, Robert Rauschenberg and Antoni Tàpies, among others. Re-framed and linked together based on the work’s general responsiveness to war, specifically World War II and the Cold War, all these square pegs are smartly made to fit in round holes despite their typical standing as loners, exceptions, outcasts and iconoclasts. In addition, since artists working across Europe, the United States and Japan have been round... [more]
Posted by Thea Liberty Nichols on 2/21/13
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REVIEW from Sixty Inches From Center: Color Bind: The MCA Collection in Black in White

by Rehema Barber
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago Curator Naomi Beckwith’s latest exhibition, Color Bind: The MCA Collection in Black and White, currently on view through April 28, is a dynamic and engaging mix of works from the MCA’s collection. Conceived from the examination of the formal, conceptual and sociopolitical ideas associated with the colors of black and white, the exhibition provides viewers with the opportunity to reflect upon their own attitudes toward and notions of these contrapositive shades. Composed of works that span from the likes of Jaume Plensa, the artist who created Chicago’s Millen... [more]
Posted by Rehema Barber on 3/16/13
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Chicago Animated by Color: Jessica Stockholder

by Beth Capper
Chicago has a complicated relationship with public art. Anish Kapoor’s beloved Cloud Gate aside, many of the City’s outdoor works have been met with contempt or irreverence by critics and the public alike. Tony Tasset’s Eye fascinated some, but perplexed most; Seward Johnson’s Forever Marilyn sculpture was denounced as “kitsch” and was repeatedly vandalized — once with streaks of red paint surely meant to evoke menstrual blood — until it was taken down in May; and even works that are now symbols of the art establishment, such as Chicago’s Picasso sculpture in Daley Plaza, are treated with an air... [more]
Posted by Beth Capper on 6/27/12
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In Defiance of History: Rashid Johnson & Cauleen Smith

Rashid Johnson employs an afrofuturist methodology to create an alternative universe out of black cultural detritus so that histories and possibilities of black life in America can be imagined otherwise. In his current solo show, Message to Our Folks, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Johnson projects a concept of blackness that cannot be confined or defined—it is the blackness of the universe, perhaps, which extends beyond the realm of our ability to completely grasp it. At the same time, Johnson creates space for a celebration of this indefinable blackness—albeit a celebrat... [more]
Posted by Joel Kuennen on 5/30/12
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In Defiance of History: Rashid Johnson & Cauleen Smith

by Beth Capper
Rashid Johnson employs an afrofuturist methodology to create an alternative universe out of black cultural detritus so that histories and possibilities of black life in America can be imagined otherwise. In his current solo show, Message to Our Folks, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Johnson projects a concept of blackness that cannot be confined or defined—it is the blackness of the universe, perhaps, which extends beyond the realm of our ability to completely grasp it. At the same time, Johnson creates space for a celebration of this indefinable blackness—albeit a celebration of blac... [more]
Posted by Beth Capper on 5/30/12
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Playfully Curious: Martin Creed at the MCA

by Mia DiMeo
Eleven months ago, Martin Creed started a year-long residency at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA) bringing monthly creative interventions to the non-gallery spaces in and around the building. During this time, work on display by Creed, cohesively called “Martin Creed Plays Chicago,” has ranged from the hard-to-miss neon marquis Work No. 1357 (MOTHERS) spinning in the museum’s front plaza, to a brand new four-track record by Creed and his band, CHICAGO (Work No.1370). The residency gave Creed’s faceted practice a lot of exposure by positioning old work in new contexts of the muse... [more]
Posted by Mia DiMeo on 11/28/12
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Being O(there)d

by Courtney R. Thompson
Walking into Ron Terada’s current exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) was an out-of-country experience. As a Canadian, I was curious about how the MCA was going to convey Terada’s Vancouverite roots and Canuck art heritage in its wall text. Terada is hard to shoehorn in terms of his influences, with many a passive-aggressive wink-and-a-smile to materials, artists, and movements. Is he a card-carrying second generation member of the Vancouver photoconceptual school; rubbing shoulders with Jeff Wall, Stan Douglas, and Rodney Graham? Depends on whom you ask. My feeling is that Terad... [more]
Posted by Courtney R. Thompson on 12/5/11
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Watershed Moments Revisited

by Monica Westin
Considerations about the Vancouver School and photoconceptualism have seemed ubiquitous in Chicago during these recent winter months, from the Rodney Graham show at Donald Young, to the ambitious “Light Years” show at the Art Institute and the Museum of Contemporary Art’s exhibition on Ron Terada shown across the hall from IAIN BAXTER&. BAXTER& remains an elusive, trickster figure, one with deep historical influence but whose position is sometimes easily lost from our current moment. Walking through IAIN BAXTER&’s first retrospective is occasionally reminiscent of, at least for me, watching a pioneering... [more]
Posted by Monica Westin on 12/12/11
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Less Risky

by Abraham Ritchie
With Scott Reeder’s new show up on the walls and the exhibition space turned over to a show on Gordon Matta-Clark, the Museum of Contemporary Art’s (MCA) long-running UBS 12x12 program is officially over.  There have been a number of opinions aired about the end of the 12x12 program, most of them approving of ending the program and approving of the replacement program series, “Chicago Works.” But with the end of the UBS 12x12 hasn’t something been lost that was important?  First a quick recap on the UBS 12x12 program: begun in 2001 by then-director of the MCA, Robert Fitzpatrick, the program’s tagline was “New Art... [more]
Posted by Abraham Ritchie on 11/21/11
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The Future

by Amelia Ishmael
Anxiety over the “end of history” has led an amusing discourse in Western academic cultures throughout the turn of the 21st century. A throwback from Hegel’s lectures on history and art in the first decades of the 19th century (these things take time to really get rolling), it may have even threatened this website when art and art criticism were pronounced to be within their final death throes. Behind this theoretical threat to art and its writing, which has mostly led to a lot of naval gazing and arguments of what the hell the art community is doing and whether it has any meaning, the concept of t... [more]
Posted by Amelia Ishmael on 10/24/11
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Stay a Little Longer

by Amelia Ishmael
Standing within the living installation Naked at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA) a decision must be made—how long to stay. I am inside of a room-like structure that consists of three walls of canvas panels strewn with black Indonesian feathers, salt, rice paste, and burnt holes. A similar fourth canvas panel covers the floor. A nest-like pile of black feathers lays before a dark reflecting pool, and past the reflecting pool—or somewhat within it—a black wall hosts a video projection of Eiko and Koma’s performance. The two nude bodies lay within a similar nest of feathers, intimately... [more]
Posted by Amelia Ishmael on 9/26/11
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Inside the Box

by Mia DiMeo
Joseph Cornell (1903-1972) was an American Surrealist, well-known for his imaginative boxes, sculptural environments with interior assemblages that may include birds, shells, and collaged or appropriated images along with other ephemera. Large holdings of these are owned by the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), and the boxes mark an important halfway point between modern aesthetics, like collage and found object sculpture, and more contemporary concepts. In “Pandora's Box: Joseph Cornell Unlocks the MCA Collection,” Chief Curator Michael Darling thoughtfully pulls f... [more]
Posted by Mia DiMeo on 7/25/11
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What is the Form of Color?

by Abraham Ritchie
Matthew Metzger’s paintings in “Nocturne” at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, mark the beginning of his highly ambitious, perhaps quixotic, project.  Metzger aims at nothing less than answering the question, posed by the artist himself during his gallery talk on May 10th, “What is the form of color?” Metzger also identified three traits of color during his discussion: “Expansion and contraction within a limit,” malleability and affect on the senses, and resistance to language.  It would seem that the three works from Metzger on view enact these traits of color that he identified. ... [more]
Posted by Abraham Ritchie on 5/23/11
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Poetics of Light

by Robyn Farrell Roulo
On March 28, 2011, a small crowd gathered outside 1230 North Burling, better known as Cabrini-Green. It was an eclectic mix that witnessed this eventon Chicago’s north side: neighbors, former residents, security, journalists and art enthusiasts.  This last set of onlookers are of course not commonly found hanging around an inner-city housing project, but they turned out for the lighting of Project Cabrini Green, a public art installation conceived by artist and educator Jan Tichy. Tichy's project marks the beginning of the last building's transformation from neglected high-rise to high-art to rubble. ... [more]
Posted by Robyn Farrell Roulo on 4/17/11
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If It Be Your Will

by Erik Wenzel
Tucked away in a corner of the Museum of Contemporary Art’s fourth floor is We Shall Be All (2011), a commissioned installation by the Turner Prize-winning artist Susan Philipsz. While Philipsz is widely billed as a “sound artist” the medium listed as you enter the gallery is 35mm film transferred to DVD.  This multi-step process seems a bit excessive because for the majority of the piece’s eight-minute duration the projector projects nothing.  What we see rather than the blackness of the sustained absence of a picture is a ghostly purple rectangle. The exhibition space is a narrow unlit tunnel,... [more]
Posted by Erik Wenzel on 4/18/11
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New Chicago Comics

by Thea Liberty Nichols
“New Chicago Comics” is a group show featuring the work of Jeffrey Brown, Lilli Carré, Paul Hornschemeier and Anders Nilsen, organized by Curatorial Assistant Michael Green, and on view now at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA) in the space commonly used for “12x12” exhibitions. Brown, Hornschemeier and Nilsen, along with John Hankiewicz, had all formerly collaborated on The Holy Consumption, a website that featured a new post by one of the artists every Sunday. The addition of Carré is a welcome one, and all of the artists in the show hold their own by displaying a boatload of art, indicating... [more]
Posted by Thea Liberty Nichols on 1/24/11
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Welcome to the Playground

by Joel Kuennen
Pulling from the Museum of Contemporary Art’s (MCA) own collection, curator Tricia Van Eck, with the help of Dominic Molon (a former curator at the MCA, now Chief Curator at the Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis), presents this season’s bread-and-butter exhibition. Running until May, “Without You I’m Nothing” addresses an issue that has defined art from the ‘60s onward: the viewer. What is the role of the audience in art? Does art exist without an audience? How can art affect and effect the viewer or participant? All these questions came to the fore when art began questioning its traditional role... [more]
Posted by Joel Kuennen on 1/3/11
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Contesting Haussmann in Urban China

by Joel Kuennen
Snuggled into the corner of the Museum of Contemporary Art’s (MCA) second floor is a fascinating exhibition, “Informal Cities” that focuses on methods of organizing information. In the modern West, the urban has been a critical site of theoretical and experimental thought throughout the last century, coming to a head with the iconic publication of La révolution urbaine by Henri Lefebvre in 1970. Following the student upheavals of May ‘68, the urban announced its importance with a shout and a shake, though the revolutions themselves, by most accounts, failed. The city, always a site o... [more]
Posted by Joel Kuennen on 11/29/10
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Painting Memory

by Abraham Ritchie
Luc Tuymans’ painting of the bespectacled and smiling man could be anyone; he looks like your best friend’s dad from the old photos in the den.  Included in the Luc Tuymans retrospective currently on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the man seen in The Heritage VI is hopefully not your best friend’s dad.  Like the buried history that Tuymans consistently paints, The Heritage VI is actually a very particular person: Joseph Milteer, KKK member, right-wing extremist, and a possible conspirator in the Kennedy assassination.  It was also painted at a very particular time... [more]
Posted by Abraham Ritchie on 10/11/10
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A Hardcore Commitment to Abstraction

by Erik Wenzel
Carrie Gundersdorf’s two concurrent exhibitions, collages of reference material at Julius Cæsar and the main event, large format drawings at Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), display what I would term a “hardcore” commitment to abstraction. A bit like classic rock, or a new band that carries on the tradition, Gundersdorf is a committed Modernist.  Both exhibitions closed on August 29th. The text accompanying the MCA exhibition names Ellsworth Kelly and Piet Mondrian as historic references, but Gundersdorf’s artistic motif of repeated line segments that are more or less parallel, some... [more]
Posted by Erik Wenzel on 8/30/10
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Calder and his Children

by Victor M. Cassidy
Using tin snips and pliers, Alexander Calder fashioned his mobiles from sheet metal, wire, and bits of junk. After painting the sculptures in bright colors, he hung them from the ceiling where they move slowly in the air. Calder’s work is instantly recognizable, completely approachable, and a treat to the eye. There’s no other artist like him. Everyone loves Calder, but critics underrate him, says Lynne Warren, the long-time Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) curator. Also, she adds, Calder has influenced many younger artists. To prove these points, Warren organized “Alexander Calder... [more]
Posted by Victor M. Cassidy on 7/19/10
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Culture: Yours or Ours?

by Abraham Ritchie
It’s impossible to enter the Museum of Contemporary Art’s (MCA) current exhibition “Rewind: 1970s to 1990s, Works from the MCA Collection” without first encountering Kay Rosen’s new work Yours/ours, 2010.  Rosen’s language-based works explore the significant shifts in meaning that can happen to words or phrases when seemingly insignificant shifts in their presentation are made.  At the MCA, Rosen presents the word “YOURS” divided by the entrance to the galleries in such a way so that when one encounters the work it reads, “Y” and “OURS”.  This is a signature move by Rosen to provoke... [more]
Posted by Abraham Ritchie on 5/17/10
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Studio Visits

by Erik Wenzel
      “Production Site: The Artist’s Studio Inside-Out” at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) along with the other exhibitions and events in the yearlong civic event is predicated on a cliché: the artist’s studio. This is as much acknowledged in the colorful photocopies pinned to the wall outside the exhibition. The timeline begins with the famous Rembrandt, The Painter in His Studio and ends with Maude from the Coen Brother’s The Big Lebowski. Why an exhibition, much less a citywide celebration on this theme? And why now? Answers differ from project to project. Posts on the Studio Chicago blo... [more]
Posted by Erik Wenzel on 2/22/10
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The Tree of Knowledge

by Abraham Ritchie
      From South to North in Chicago you can see Aspen Mays' work, at the Hyde Park Art Center and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA). Occupying the MCA’s UBS 12 x 12 gallery for the entire month of February is Aspen Mays’ exhibition “Every leaf on a tree.” An installation of two photographic series, Every leaf and Einstein Rainbow, Mays once again presents a concentrated investigation into a particular subject.  Despite the apparent world of difference between a tree and a physicist, Mays shows us two bodies of knowledge and how that knowledge is gained, stored and organized.Every leaf... [more]
Posted by Abraham Ritchie on 2/8/10
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Primetime Gillick

by Erik Wenzel
        “The one hundred and sixty-third floor” is the final gambit in a series of skirmishes between  Gillick and the institutions at which he’s presented “Three Perspectives and a Short Scenario,” a mid-career survey of sorts.  Both exhibitions are on view in the halls on the main floor of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA). Gillick’s strategy at each venue has been to “gift” back a portion of the gallery space allocated to his exhibition to each institution, with mixed results.The MCA had originally intended to use the space to present works of Gillick’s from its’ collection, countering... [more]
Posted by Erik Wenzel on 12/7/09
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Bucking Tradition

by Robyn Farrell Roulo
          “Italics: Italian Art Between Tradition and Revolution 1968-2008” sheds light on nearly a half-century of contemporary art not otherwise seen outside of Italy.  The brainchild of international curator, writer and critic, Francesco Bonami, and co-presented by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and the Palazzo Grassi in Venice, the exhibition gives new insight to the conventional definition of “Italian Art”. On view through, February 14, 2010, “Italics” includes more than 100 works from nearly 80 artists, highlighting the creativity, struggle and innovation of visual artis... [more]
Posted by Robyn Farrell Roulo on 11/21/09
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Alienated Production

by Erik Wenzel
    "Three Perspectives and a Short Scenario" is the midcareer survey of New York and London-based artist Liam Gillick. The show takes on the idea of what a mid-career survey is, as its subject. In dealing with institutions Gillick has a propensity for problematizing the relationship between artist and venue. For each stop of the exhibition, he “gifted” half of the space back to the venue. This forced the interactions between artist and curator out into the open. Gillick contributed four elements,  controls, if you will; the rest was the doing of each institution. Liam Gillick, Three perspectives a... [more]
Posted by Erik Wenzel on 10/19/09
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Minotauromachy

by Erik Wenzel
        Daria Martin’s Minotaur (2008) is as much a fetishization of the stuff of film as it is a fetishization of the age-old tale of a monster that devours young maidens. The choice to work in 16mm film cannot go unnoticed. Even in the realm of film, as opposed to video, it sticks out-- with its roughly squarish shape and fuzzy, rounded edges when projected. Maybe this film stock is what gives it the distinct feel of a movie made by an auteur when they were still in film school. Maybe it is also how color is reproduced through chemicals and ground up animal bones, as opposed to 1’s and 0’s... [more]
Posted by Erik Wenzel on 1/18/10
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Constellation Prizes

by Erik Wenzel
Built upon the holdings in the Museum of Contemporary Art’s (MCA) permanent collection and augmented by loans from galleries and collectors, “Constellations,” curated by Julie Rodrigues Widholm, organizes the practice of painting into a series of themes. Rather than a historical lineage approach, although that can still be read in the groupings, the show places artists together based on concept or working method. There is a lot of good work in the show and a lot of old favorites. But if you’ve been to the MCA a fair amount of times over the years you probably won’t be able to withhold the b... [more]
Posted by Erik Wenzel on 9/7/09
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Elementals

by Abraham Ritchie
      On the second floor of Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) is “Elements of Photography,” curated by Curatorial Assistant Michael Green.  This area of the MCA is usually reserved for smaller, “focus” type of shows as befits the minimal square footage of that gallery and this exhibition follows that trend.  Pulled from the museum’s permanent collection, the photographs on display, “focus on the elemental materials of nature: light and water. [Which are] also the fundamental elements of traditional photography," and are to relate to the Olafur Eliasson exhibit. Thus the works on vie... [more]
Posted by Abraham Ritchie on 8/31/09
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No Such Thing As Color

by Kathryn Born
  "The bartender presses a button, and just like that the rain stops." -Barry Yourgrau, A Man Jumps Out of an Airplane     Olafur Eliasson's show at the MCA has two types of artworks: objects and experiences.  The first experience is the yellow-lighted hall (Room for one colour, 1997)which seems at first like a crushing disappointment, Dan Flavin Part Deux. Then you realize that everyone around you is in greyscale. You are in a living black and white movie. The lady with the red blazer? Grey. Green shirt = grey shirt. Black shoes stay black. Now you're starting to get it. You are a part of the show... [more]
Posted by Kathryn Born on 4/30/09
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Fuller's Visions for the Future

by Abraham Ritchie
On view until mid-June at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) is the R. Buckminster Fuller exhibit, “Starting with the Universe.”  Originating from the Whitney Museum in New York, MCA curators Elizabeth Smith and Tricia Van Eck have organized the Chicago presentation of the exhibition with additional material, including a large reading room.Although an art museum is presenting this exhibition, Fuller was not strictly an artist.  He was a renaissance man, taking on roles as architect, engineer, cartographer, inventor, and sculptor.  About halfway through the exhibit I realized why the phrase... [more]
Posted by Abraham Ritchie on 5/11/09
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When the Dawn Barks

by Erik Wenzel
St. Cecilia, 2007, is the centerpiece of an exhibition of recent work by Joseph Grigely of the same name at the MCA. The two-channel video composed of various video stock and super 8 film presents the Baltimore Choral Society singing three beloved songs: “The Czar is Afraid of Everything,” “Check Close Those Lucky Legs” and “Cy Licks Light.” These are actually the misread versions of “My Favorite Things,” “Jolly Old St. Nicholas” and “Silent Night.” Depending on which speaker you stand under, you either hear the correct lyrics or the alternate lyrics, written by Grigely. Both audio tracks are perfec... [more]
Posted by Erik Wenzel on 12/15/08
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Jeff Koons

by Abraham Ritchie
The Jeff Koons survey at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art comes exactly twenty years after his first survey there in 1988, and assembles a large body of work that spans his career. Since 1979 Koons has worked within series, “Pre-New, The New,” “Luxury and Degradation,” “Equilibrium,” etc., all of which are represented within this survey with key examples. Many important and influential pieces are gathered in this exhibit and they are the best examples from the various series that he has worked in since 1979. Rather than being shown chronologically, all the works... [more]
Posted by Abraham Ritchie on 5/31/08
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Good Boy: Nauman at the MCA

by Abraham Ritchie
As Madeleine Grynsztejn takes over as Director for the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA), their ongoing exhibition series "Artists in Depth," perhaps signals the new course that the museum is taking. After showing a "greatest hits" exhibit ("Highlights from the Permanent Collection") this series thoughtfully examines the work of several major artists that the museum has large collections of. This allows the variety of an artist's output to be displayed, so that one gets a sense of the artist, the artist's interests, and can see the way the body of work changes over time. While tourists... [more]
Posted by Abraham Ritchie on 9/1/08