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Chalk It Up

POSTED BY , ON September 09, 2011, 1 COMMENTS

With their often ghastly depictions of war, the larger-than-life posters in Windows on the War have a way of eliciting strong reactions from museum-goers. So perhaps for this exhibition more than others, it made sense to provide a place for visitors to leave behind their own points of view. On one hand, the chalkboard is a time-honored medium many of us remember from our old school days; but in this case it also serves as an interactive space allowing visitors to creatively engage with the exhibition and each other.

We have been keeping a collective eye on the board since the show’s opening, posting some of our favorite comments to a Facebook photo album. In many ways, it has been an enlightening, if flummoxing, experience to see what kinds of comments get the greatest response. Despite plenty of earnest reflection and personal testimony (even some from survivors of the war), the most popular comments are usually non sequiturs like “PANTS” or “Ponies Not War.” It’s almost as if the chalkboard has been co-opted in many ways by the language of social media. Pithy musings are met with jocular barbs as visitors react to one another in a kind of nonreciprocal correspondence.

Check our Facebook photo album as we update it each week and see if people ‘like’ what you have to say. Also, don’t forget visitors are welcome to take photographs of many of the posters on display in Windows on the War. Tag us if you post a picture from TASS to Flickr, and we’ll share it. Now if somebody wants to draw a cat playing the piano, maybe our TASS chalkboard photo album will go viral.

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TASS Poster Recreation

POSTED BY , ON August 26, 2011, 3 COMMENTS

In order to demonstrate the complexity of creating one of the stenciled posters in the TASS exhibition, the Prints and Drawings department worked with contemporary artist Alexis Petroff to recreate the poster titled The Moralistic Wolf.

But instead of working with an assembly line of individuals, Petroff did all the steps that TASS studio workers would have done himself besides creating the original artwork. The finished poster took many dozens of hours to make and includes approximately 40 colors and a dozen precisely cut stencils. Check out the video above for a more comprehensive look at his incredibly detailed process, putting those color-by-number drawings you did when you were younger to shame.

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Air and Water

POSTED BY , ON August 19, 2011, Comments Off

Two million people are expected to attend the 53rd Annual Chicago Air and Water Show this weekend. That’s a veritable throng! Headliners include the US Air Force Thunderbirds, the US Army Parachute Team (AKA the Golden Knights), and the US Navy Parachute Team (Go Leap Frogs!). These aviators and parachuters will showcase their talents in decidedly friendlier ways than how their skills were intended. In contrast, two exhibitions open now at the museum illustrate the daring escapades these airmen are specifically trained to do. Windows on the War: Soviet TASS Posters at Home and Abroad, 1941–1945 presents giant stenciled posters created by the TASS News Agency to rally compatriots to the Soviet war effort. Artists and writers produced hundreds of these storefront window posters, one for nearly every day of the Second World War. The image above illustrates the friendship that occurred between Soviet and British airmen during the course of the war.

Also, be sure to check out the companion show, Belligerent Encounters: Graphic Chronicles of War and Revolution, 1500–1945.

Kukryniksy. Meeting over Berlin (detail), c. 1941. Ne boltai! Collection.

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Installing TASS, Part 5

POSTED BY , ON July 29, 2011, 1 COMMENTS

Our Extreme Makeover is officially complete, so I’m finally including some shots of the exhibition. The interior shots—which include a poster as it would have been seen in a storefront as well as posters created throughout the war—are dramatic and quite moving, but I have to say, the image above of exhibition research associate Jill Bugajski examining the graphic panel at the entrance of the exhibition is a personal favorite.

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Installing TASS, Part 4

POSTED BY , ON July 28, 2011, Comments Off

Installing more than 250 artworks—not to mention text panels, labels, and graphic murals—is no small feat. It took a group of museum art handlers and department technicians just under three weeks to install the TASS exhibition. (Think about that the next time you freak out when you hang a picture or two in your apartment.) They worked with curators to space the artworks and determine the height at which they should all hang. (Fun fact: objects are generally hung according to a predetermined center height.) According to Aza Q. pictured above, one of the challenges of this exhibition was maintaining consistency and ensuring that all artworks were level—see pics for evidence.

If you’re a member, we invite you to enjoy the fruits of their labor now! Member previews began today and will continue through Saturday.

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