Imaging the Imagists at the Smart Museum


The Smart Museum of Art received a grant from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation to greatly expand access and preservation of its collection of Chicago Imagist works on paper. The Smart was able to mount, conserve, and/or photograph 437 works, add 407 new images to their online collections database, expand 51 artwork texts (which can be now viewed in the online catalog records) and interview 3 artists.

The interviews with artists Barbara Rossi, Suellen Rocca, and Karl Wirsum are available online through the Smart’s Vimeo channel (and also on an iPad in the Joan and Robert Feitler Gallery for Contemporary Art through August 2014).

To view the newly added images in the Smart’s collections website, the best way to search is by artist name. After completing the grant work, the following Imagist artists are represented on their website:

Roger Brown, Art Green, Philip Hanson, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Ed Paschke, Suellen Rocca, Barbara Rossi, Karl Wirsum, Don Baum, and the Hairy Who.

If you’re in the area, be sure to visit the current exhibition at the Smart, State of Mind and sister show Bridging California and Chicago which features Chicago Imagist works.

What’s Going on in the Smart Museum Lobby?

It’s the installation of “Uppers and Downers,” a new collaboration from Chris Vorhees and SIMPARCH. Click on this link for updates throughout the week.

Uppers and Downers reworks the familiar kitchen setup of cabinetry, countertop, and sink into an abstracted version of a massive rainbow arching over a waterfall. This kitschy natural scene plays upon the utopian promise that restraint yields bliss: if only you eliminate excess and organize clutter to hide messy reality behind stylish surfaces, then happiness will follow. Or perhaps not.

Via The Smart Museum of Art Facebook page.

Smart Museum to Screen David Wojnarowicz’s A Fire in My Belly

David Wojnarowicz’s 1986–87 video A Fire in My Belly is a poetic, unfinished tribute to the artist’s friend and colleague, Peter Hujar, who died of AIDS.

An excerpt of the work was recently removed from the National Portrait Gallery’s exhibition Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture following protests by a religious group and conservative politicians. In response to the Smithsonian’s decision to pull the work, institutions around the country have joined together to host screenings as a way to draw attention to its removal and to foster discussion around the work and issues of censorship.

The Smart Museum will be screening the original, 13-minute version of the film edited by Wojnarowicz in 1986–87 followed by a 7-minute additional chapter that was later found in his collection. It will be playing on continuous loop in a black box screening area.

The film will be screened from January 4 – February 6, 2011. Via Smart Museum of Art.

Highlighting the Smart Museum’s Buddhist Caves Exhibit

The most recent University of Chicago newsletter highlights the interdisciplinary nature of the Smart Museum‘s current exhibition, Echoes of the Past: The Buddhist Cave Temples of Xiangtangshan:

Visitors can step inside re-creations of spaces and groupings of sculptural images that no longer exist today. The displays combine digital imagery of the caves with physical artifacts such as three-foot-tall limestone heads of bodhisattvas and the Buddha. The exhibition’s centerpiece is a multimedia installation known as a “digital cave,” designed by artist Jason Salavon, Assistant Professor in Visual Arts and the Computation Institute. Salavon conceived of the cave as an immersive experience, using multiple screens to give visitors a glimpse inside the largest temple at Xiangtangshan.

The article also discusses at length the extensive research undertaken by The University of Chicago’s Katherine Tsiang (exhibition curator) and Wu Hung, among others. This Sunday at 2pm, Jason Salavon will discuss the components of his installation in an Artist Talk at the Smart.

The exhibition will be open from September 30, 2010 to January 16, 2011 and, like all Smart Museum exhibitions, is free.