Morbid Curiosity: The Richard Harris Collection

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© Courtesy of the Chicago Cultural Center
Morbid Curiosity: The Richard Harris Collection

78 E. Washington St.
Chicago, IL 60602
January 28th, 2012 - July 8th, 2012
Opening: January 27th, 2012 5:30 PM - 7:30 PM

Michigan Ave/Downtown
Mon-Thu 9-7; Fri-Sat 9-6; Sun 10-6
prints, ethnographic artifacts, specimens, medical charts, ephemera, installation, sculpture


Morbid Curiosity showcases collector Richard Harris’ nearly 1,000 works, including creations by many of the greatest artists of our time, which explore the iconography of death across a variety of artistic, cultural and spiritual practices from 2000 B.C.E. to the present day.

The two major components of this exhibition are the “War Room,” highlighting the atrocities of war in notable works from the 17th century to present day in the 4th floor Exhibit Hall; and the “Kunstkammer of Death,” a modern-day “cabinet of curiosities” housed in the Sidney R. Yates Gallery, featuring a wide-ranging survey of mortality across cultures and spiritual traditions.

The centerpiece of the “War Room” is Mr. Harris’ collection of five great war series featuring prints by Jacques Callot, Francisco Goya, Otto Dix, the Chapman Brothers and Sandow Birk, which he has acquired over the past 30 years. This exhibition marks the first time that all five series will be exhibited together in their entirety.

Additional highlights of Morbid Curiosity: The Richard Harris Collection include:

  • Works by notable artists including Rembrandt, Albrecht Durer, Hans Bellmar, Odilon Redon, Pavel Tchelitchew, James Ensor, Jasper Johns and Robert Mapplethorpe.
  • Breathtaking 13 ft. high chandelier made entirely of 3,000 handcrafted plaster bones by contemporary British artist Jodie Carey. The piece directly engages the viewer with the irony or contradictions implicit in the decay/beauty aesthetic.
  • Visually stunning large-scale installation, “Tribute,” from Guerra de la Paz entirely built from colorful used clothing that commemorates the Holocaust.
  • Specimens, medical charts and ephemera.
  • Work by contemporary artists such as Andres Serrano, Vik Muniz and Hugo Crosthwaite, including his commissioned 10 x 25 ft. site-specific mural, “Death March,” among others.
  • Ethnographic artifacts and art from other cultures, particularly Tibet, Mexico, Africa and New Guinea.