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Renaissance Society

Venue  |  Exhibitions  |  Reviews
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An Actual Location for This Moment: Gabriel Sierra at the Renaissance Society

by Gan Uyeda
Gabriel Sierra creates structures of relation, platforms where humans, architecture, and paper media collaborate on the creation of artworks. His current exhibition at the Renaissance Society—the first solo exhibition in the United States for the Bogotá-based artist—is a scatter piece of sculptures, rules, and relationships in which 14 constructions, mostly in modernistically white plywood, lie on the gallery floor. They look at first like a kind of stern minimalism in the Ren’s soaring angular ceilings.[1] This straight-faced formalism, it turns out, is a ruse, the bu... [more]
Posted by Gan Uyeda on 5/19/15
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Who is Responsible for the American Dream?

by Caroline Picard
I had a dream a couple years ago in which a new, previously unknown continent was discovered on Earth. The knowledge entered my consciousness first like the ambient news of a radio dispatch. It was an impersonal knowledge, born through the slippery medium of dream space, the source of the transmission overlooked as my dream self wondered instead about the profound consequence such a discovery might have on the rest of humankind. The next thing I remember is that I stood on the ground of the new country. It was made of gypsum, entirely empty except for many animals who seemed to have been living th... [more]
Posted by Caroline Picard on 10/17/14
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Our Love is a Cage Match

by Stephanie Cristello
If you walk through the stacks of Barnes & Noble, you might find yourself in the aisles of young adult fiction, which despite its implied age bracket is one of the largest and most profitable sectors in the commercial publishing industry. If you are like Hamza Walker, you may have discovered this aisle through your preteen daughter. But you do not have to know a preteen girl in order to have insight as to what this fiction is about, or to understand its contents. You know the melodrama this genre promotes well – the harrowing and theatrical stakes within its pages, the stories of the in... [more]
Posted by Stephanie Cristello on 3/20/14
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Watchlist Artist: Nora Schultz

Nora Schultz’s site-­‐specific installation, parrottree-­‐building for bigger than real, is now on view at the Renaissance Society and will be through February 23, 2014. This exhibition is the first curated for the Society by new Executive Director and Chief Curator Solveig Øvstebø and the first institutional exhibition in the United States by Schultz. Assimilation to environment defines Schultz’s artworks from their genesis. The artist sources the materials she works with by scavenging around the site of exhibition. In this case, she manipulates found objects pulled f... [more]
Posted by Abhilasha Singh on 1/25/14
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In a world full of bombastic imagery where colors have dominated, we have almost forgotten that a world of black and white imagery exists. It seems that B/W world is reduced  only to Art history books or photocopies of B/W Printer (of my school that never seems to work). Nowadays, even people’s hair follow an artist’s color palette. John Neff recent exhibition at The Renaissance Society of Art is an attempt to bring that bygone era of Black and White photography back in the mainstream. And I believe he nailed it. The photographs seem to have a character of their own. They speak of being sentime... [more]
Posted by Agni Chemburkar on 3/28/13
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Susanne Ghez on R.H. Quaytman and the role of the Curator

by Joel Kuennen
Susanne Ghez, Executive Director of the Renaissance Society, will step down in January after a prestigious career shepherding this Chicago institution known for its impeccable programming in contemporary art. Ms. Ghez took the helm of the Ren, as it’s affectionately called, in 1974 with a meager budget of $25,000 and built one of the country’s premier, non-collecting institutions with a current yearly budget of $1.7 million. For her final exhibition with the Renaissance Society, she has selected the enigmatic postmodernist painter, R.H. Quaytman. A choice, Ms. Ghez tells us, that presented this veteran... [more]
Posted by Joel Kuennen on 11/28/12
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The March of Objects

by Joel Kuennen
A familiar eye in luminescent, freshly hewn copper stares up from a wooden cradle against a backdrop of anthropomorphic lions ripped from the palace walls of Sargon II, an Assyrian king who ruled in the 7th century BCE. This is probably the most striking installment of Danh Vo’s We the People in Chicago—an indefinite project brought to Chicago as a collaboration between the Art Institute of Chicago and the Renaissance Society that reconstructs the Statue of Liberty’s façade and installs segments of the icon around the world. Hammered in repoussage to the thickness of two pennies, pieces of the... [more]
Posted by Joel Kuennen on 10/2/12
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I Give You All

by Steve Ruiz
         Walking into the Renaissance Society, my eyes bulge and I don’t know what breaks my heart more:  the crushed figures wrapped in plastic at the foot of a mannequin draped in rags, leaning on impersonal machinery, its head trapped in a birdcage and painted with debris; bowls and dishes caked with dried out food, the empty vessels of domestic care, unclean, uncared for, color coded in tragic narratives; or the horse shoes, icons of domestic production, sharpened into symbols of domestic violence, wired and dangling from the wrist of another mannequin, a woman-as-nurse perched and p... [more]
Posted by Steve Ruiz on 1/31/12
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Minimalism's Chokehold

by Abraham Ritchie
Gerard Byrne’s name has been coming up regularly in the wider art world: in 2007 he represented Ireland at the 52nd Venice Biennale and in the summer of that year he received extended essay on his work in Artforum; then the March 2009 review in Artforum of his U.S. solo debut at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; and last October’sArt in America review of his exhibition at Lismore Castle Arts (yes, it is an actual castle).  The centerpiece of the Lismore Castle exhibit was Byrne’s A thing is a hole in a thing it is not, a multi-channel video installation that has made it across the ocean to the cavernous hall of the Renaissance Society where it is the title... [more]
Posted by Abraham Ritchie on 2/21/11
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Contact Print

by Erik Wenzel
        It is tempting to discuss Matt Saunders’ work strictly in terms of the methodology that produces it. This is because the steps he takes to make a picture are so involved and complicated. And as they cross media, each step adds a layer and embeds content. Another condition that locates the discourse in this zone is the insistence of artist and his apologists alike that the sources of the images that he works with are, while important to Saunders, not essential to appreciating the work. In the exhibition essay, curator Hamza Walker states, “Anything beyond knowing that his sources are... [more]
Posted by Erik Wenzel on 3/22/10
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Imagining Poland

by Dan Gunn
        For his show at the Renaissance Society, Allan Sekula placed little 8 1/2” x 11” printed paper texts around the exterior walls. These texts and his manuscript “Polonia and Other Fables” show Mr. Sekula’s attachment to the written word, which forms a context for his photography. The show, also titled “Polonia and other Fables,” reflects Sekula’s interest in capitalist economic systems and the structuring of societies that emerge from those systems. There are endearing portraits here, like the old man holding an accordion, or a shop selling “kiss me I’m Polish” T-shirts. One especia... [more]
Posted by Dan Gunn on 10/26/09
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Shine Your Shoes Govn’r?

by Erik Wenzel
Francis Alÿs’ installation at the Renaissance Society is perhaps the most ambitious there to date. Alÿs has constructed an observation deck that pierces the invisible ceiling created by the lighting structure. For the first time viewers can ascend into the space that is literally the size of an additional floor hitherto left empty and out of reach. Like a lookout at a forest preserve, it is built for raw utility, an aesthetic convention in itself these days. For all this work, a huge room built in and around the lighting with a deck on top displays a small video on a screen suspended by a cord... [more]
Posted by Erik Wenzel on 10/6/08