POSTED BY , ON September 26, 2011, 1 COMMENTS

Exposure, on view in the Modern Wing’s gallery 188, is the fourth in a series of exhibitions dedicated to showcasing emerging artists working in the field of contemporary photography. The three artists featured in this installment of the series illustrate the diversity of current photography practice: Matt Keegan combines street photography, sculpture, and text to present and comment on the history of American urban development; Katie Paterson uses astrophotography techniques to simultaneously describe space and time; Heather Rasmussen photographs paper models of shipping container disasters, reminding us of another risk involved in the business of intricately interconnected global trade.

Within this series, curator Katherine Bussard aims to exclusively feature artists who haven’t shown work in a venue of the Art Institute’s stature. Which makes the process of discovering artist’s work and planning the exhibition a bit different than your average show of, say, dead painters. Bussard and a colleague were drawn to Paterson’s work at the Armory Show in New York. However, the two had to work through virtual channels to organize the show, since logistical circumstances prevented a studio visit (Bussard’s preferred method for viewing an emerging artist’s work). Matt Keegan doesn’t maintain an artist’s website, so, after seeing his work on view in a group exhibition, Bussard reached out to him through Facebook. Finally, an image by Heather Rasmussen showed up on an email list Bussard subscribes to—the image caught her eye, so she printed it out and got in touch to do a studio visit.

Behold the power of the interwebs.

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Whose Flag is it Anyway?

POSTED BY , ON June 14, 2011, Comments Off on Whose Flag is it Anyway?

In honor of Flag Day, we thought we’d share a little background with you about our newest acquisition, Robert Rauschenberg’s Short Circuit.

Short Circuit was originally submitted by the artist for an annual exhibition at the Stable Gallery in 1955. As the story goes, participants in the gallery’s annual shows could propose new artists for the following year’s exhibition—but that rule changed the year Short Circuit was submitted to the gallery. To protest this new policy that excluded new artists, Rauschenberg invited artist friends Jasper Johns, Ray Johnson, Stan VanDerBeek, and his ex-wife, Susan Weil, to produce small works of art that could be incorporated into the cabinet-shaped construction of Short Circuit. Johns and Weil were ultimately the only artists who contributed works in time to be “smuggled” into the exhibition, behind Short Circuit ‘s two hinged doors of different sizes. A painting by Weil appears behind the right door, and a flag composition by Johns once sat behind the left door but was stolen ten years after Short Circuit was made, in 1965.

Following the theft, Rauschenberg asked the artist Sturtevant—whose artistic practice centered on repeating immediately recognizable works by contemporary artists, particularly Johns, to question notions of originality and authorship—to create a reproduction of Johns’s flag painting as a replacement. As a result, the Sturtevant Flag within Short Circuit is an original work of art by Sturvetant, neither a copy nor a nostalgic replica. This replacement Flag fits perfectly into Rauschenberg’s practice of placing existing images into new referential contexts that challenge accepted definitions of art.

See the flag-based-on-a-flag-within-a-Combine for yourself in Gallery 297!

Robert Rauschenberg (American, 1925–2008), Short Circuit (Combine Painting), 1955. Oil, fabric, and paper on wood supports and cabinet with two hinged doors containing a painting by Susan Weil  (American, born 1930) and a reproduction of a Jasper Johns (American, born 1930) Flag painting by Sturtevant (American, 1930). 41-1/2 x 38-1/4 x 4-1/2 in. Grant J. Pick Purchase Fund.


POSTED BY , ON May 24, 2011, Comments Off on GO DO GOOD

This morning, Kay Rosen’s GO DO GOOD was unveiled at the corner of State and Washington Streets. The message—go do good—will permeate the loop this summer and calls on Chicagoans to engage in good deeds and works. In addition to the six-story sign, you’ll also see the message pop up in a variety of places, including street banners, the el platform at State and Lake, and on buttons worn by Art Institute security officers!

As you might remember, Rosen is known for text-based works that explore how we decode and structure language. Similar to the Art Institute’s Hug Hugh Ugh, GO DO GOOD uses just three letters, but cleverly creates a series of words that unfold to the reader over time. Check out more of Rosen’s visual wordplay in Gallery 293C at the Art Institute. Then, in the spirit of the work, do something nice!

Image courtesy of United Way of Metro Chicago

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Restless Rainbow

POSTED BY , ON May 12, 2011, 5 COMMENTS

If you’ve noticed some rather psychedelic changes on the Bluhm Family Terrace of the Modern Wing, don’t worry, you’re not hallucinating. It’s a new installation by SoCal contemporary artist Pae White. For the very first time, White is transforming the terrace from a location for art to an art installation in and of itself.

The piece, called Restless Rainbow, references White’s interest in textiles, graphic design, and animation and effectively answers the question, “What would it look like if a rainbow fell from the sky?” The resulting vibrant, geometric pattern will completely cover the space, as if a rainbow collapsed on to the terrace. Above you can see a shot mid-installation, as the art installers adhere and smooth out the complicated graphics. The vinyl wrap will eventually cover all the visible glass walls with a spectrum of bright colors. Instead of using the space as a site for looking out at the city skyline, White invites visitors to immerse themselves in the polychromatic pattern of a fallen rainbow.

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Recent Installation

POSTED BY , ON May 04, 2011, Comments Off on Recent Installation

The newly installed Vater Staat by German artist Thomas Schuttë cuts an imposing figure in the Modern Wing’s Griffin Court. Over 12 feet tall and made of bronze, the monumental sculpture dominates the space around it. The title, which translates to “Father State,” references Schuttë’s ongoing interest in the effect of totalitarian regimes on the human condition. Also, like many artists raised in post-war Germany, he is also responding to his native country’s history and politics, as well as the difficulty in creating public memorials. However, although the stoic figure overwhelms visitors walking by, the binding around his body renders him powerless.

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