No one looked at the aging process of the human body quite like Chicago artist Ivan Albright (1897–1983). His obsession with the body’s physical decay earned him the well-deserved title, “master of the macabre.”
The Art Institute of Chicago has curated more than 30 Albright in a retrospective called “Flesh,” now showing through August 5, 2018.
Based on Albright’s 1928 “Flesh,” the exhibit covers many of his paintings. They demonstrated every wrinkle, boil and fold of human skin, equally depicting unflattering portraits of men and women.
Albright’s process was painstaking and labored, often taking him many years to complete a work. Some paintings he just gave up on to pursue other projects.
“That Which I Should Have Done I Did Not Do (The Door),” considered his most important work, is a prime example of a painting that took him ten years. But it leaves us with an acknowledgement of life’s brevity and the road often not taken.
Former Indiana University faculty member, Jerry Findley, PhD, said, “This work focuses on moments that humanity finds hard to address – about regrets and the human experience.”
Albright’s portrayal of the body’s decay led him to his most important commission – painting The Picture of Dorian Gray for the 1945 film of Oscar Wilde’s haunting novel. This hideous, well-detailed portrait captures the essence of Wilde’s “Gray” as he descends into madness.
“The works they selected were excellent choices of Albright’s depiction of flesh of the human body… the vulnerability of time that overtakes all of humanity,” said Findley.
In exploring “the way of all flesh” throughout his career, Albright purposefully pushes the envelope of decency to shock his viewers.
“Flesh” is at the Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, through Aug. 5, 2018. For more admission and other information, call (312) 443-3600 and visit AIC/IvanAlbright.
It’s no accident that Chicago’s museums plan fun exhibits to open right when youngsters are out of school and tourists jam downtown streets.
Recent fruitful pop-ins at a few of the city’s museum’s revealed the following summer bucket list of exhibits. They either just opened or will do so soon. Go because they are perfect for kids or go to satisfy your own curiosity..
A fascinating, hands-on exploration of the “The Science Behind Pixar” used in “Toy Story” and “Finding Nemo” opened May 24 at the Museum of Science and Industry. The Shedd Aquarium’s stunning “Underwater Beauty” exhibit that opened May 25 shows off the colors, patterns and movements of more than 100 species.
The Field Museum’s eye-opening “Antarctic Dinosaurs” opened June 15 and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s insightful “I Was Raised on the Internet” opens June 23.
You know Chicago’s heart beats in time to jazz, blues and ragtime and turns dramatic with modern gospel. So a new exhibit, starting this weekend at the Chicago Cultural Center, that brings back the history of the city’s music legacy is an exciting event.
Up north in Glencoe, an important exhibit is going up next weekend at the Chicago Botanic Garden. It paints eye-catching, environmentally-driven botanical stories.
Also next weekend, a world renown painter’s disturbing views of the human condition opens at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Then, another picture of life in Chicago, the good, the bad, the real, opens the following weekend at AIC.
“Bronzeville Echoes: Faces and Places of Chicago’s African American Music”
Located in the Chicago Cultural Center’s Garland and Landmark Chicago Galleries, “Bronzeville Echoes” is filled with such artifacts as 1920s records, old sheet music and even a telephone booth. Up April 28, 2018 through Jan. 6, 2019,the exhibit is an excellent way to become acquainted with the city’s musical history. Presented by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, entry is free. The Chicago Cultural Center is at 78 E. Washington St. BTW The building itself is worth a visit. For more information visit DCASE Events.
The show is a non-forgettable statement by Santa Barbara-based artist Penelope Gottlieb on what is happening in the plant world. The works, representative of the three groups: Extinct Botanicals, Vanishing Series, and Invasive Series, range from vibrant to reflective. The exhibit is up in the Joutras Gallery in Chicago Botanical Garden’s Regenstein Center, May 4 to Aug. 12, 2018. The Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe. Entry to the Garden is free but there is a parking charge. For more information visit CBG Exhibitions.
A retrospective of this Chicago native known for his nightmarish paintings will be at the Art Institute of Chicago’s Gallery 273, May 4 through Aug. 5, 2018. Considered controversial, fascinating and macabre, his works made him the perfect artist to have painted “The Picture of Dorian Gray” for the 1945 movie. For more information visit Albright.
“Never a Lovely So Real: Photography and Film in Chicago 1950-1980”
The exhibit, whose title was taken from a Nelson Algren description of the city in Chicago: City on the Make, opens May 12 at the Art Institute of Chicago. Up in Galleries 1-4, the show reveals different sides of city during the second half of the 20th century. “Never a Lovely So Real” is part of Art Design Chicago sponsored by the Terra Foundation for American Art and the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation. It runs through Oct. 28, 2018. The museum’s admission is fee based with some free days and times. The Art Institute of Chicago is at 111 N. Michigan Ave.. For more information visit ARTIC/exhibition.
Head over to the Chicago Botanic Garden before Spike, a nearly seven-foot tall flower, is moved from the semitropical display greenhouse back to its production home on the grounds.
Called the corpse flower because of its rotting garbage odor when it blooms, Spike’s real designation is Amorphophallus titanium (titan arum).
Spike fully opened to show off its huge flower with burgundy fringe (spathe) and emitted its telltale smell on April 26.
But even though it is now closing and the odor has mostly dissipated, a bit of colorful fringe can still be seen. And, after all, a flower this tall, the largest corpse flower to bloom at the Botanic Garden, is still a site to behold.
“It certainly is something to see. You can still see the burgundy color of its spathe and then turn around and read about it in the posters,” said Botanic Garden outdoor floriculturist Tim Pollak.
“It’s never going to close tightly,” Pollak said. He thought Spike might stay on display through the weekend and possibly move on Monday or early next week.
When moved, it will go dormant then start the cycle over from having its corm (bulb) repotted to leafing out and regaining the energy needed to bloom.
“Next time it will be big, the corm will be big. This weight was over 100 pounds. Then in three to five years it may bloom again.
With Mother Nature, you don’t know. Spike did try to bloom in August, 2015 but didn’t seem to have enough energy to open.
To see what a corpse flower looks like when leafing, go next door to the tropical greenhouse. The plant looks like a tree and has a number, not a name.
“We don’t name them until they flower,” Pollak said.
No matter how dismal April has been (minus one great beach day) Spring is in the air. You know that because organizations and institutions such as the Shedd Aquarium are celebrating Earth Week with a clean-up day April 21, because One of A Kind Spring Show will be back at the Mart with lots of gift ideas for Mother’s Day, friends and family and because it’s time to fly a kite in Lincoln Park.
Shedd gets down and dirty for Earth Week
Shedd, working with a GLAD team (Great Lakes Action Days) is looking for volunteers at some specifically designated beaches from 10:30 a.m.to noon on April 21. For beaches in the program and how to sign up visit GLAD or call (312) 692-3330. You’ll be GLAD you did. For more Shedd info visit Shedd Aquarium Conservation.
Think art, gifts and craft demonstrations
The One of a Kind Spring Show ® returns to the Merchandise Mart April 27-29, 2018. This year’s show features more than 300 art and gift booths and the Lillstreet Art Center’s demonstrations and hands-on activigties. The Merchandise Mart is at 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza on the northside of the Chicago River west of Wells Street. For more information visit One of a kind show.
Kites fly on Cricket Hill
Kites will be flying high on Lincoln Park’s Cricket Hill (Montrose and Wilson)May 5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Lake Shore Drive between Montrose and Wilson). Fine if you have a favorite kite but if not Chicago Kite will be selling kites. Part of the fun though of going is too watch professional kite flying demonstrations with unusual kites. For more information visit Chicago Kids and Kites.
Listen up Penguin lovers. April 21 is World Penguin Day so Brookfield Zoo is celebrating with special events from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Stop by the Living Coast area where the Humboldt penguins reside. The first 1,000 children to participate in the activities get a World Penguin Day ID wristband similar in color to those the penguins wear. Youngsters can find the matching penguin color on the ID guide at the Living coast’s Rocky Shores habitat.
The penguins will be fed at 10:30 a.m. and again at 3:30 p.m. These are good times to hear about the penguins because there will also be “Zoo Chats” about Brookfield’s penguin colony. Other good times to hang out at their habitat are noon and 1:30 when the staff does enrichment with the penguins and answer visitors’ questions.
To see some penguins paint, be at these “artists’” habitat for their watercolor activity from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. To win one of three paintings made that day, visitors, age 13 or older, can enter a drawing held between 9 a.m. April 11 through 5 p.m. April 25 at CZS.org/PenguinDay. Winners will be announced on the zoo’s Facebook page and website April 26.
A fun activity, is to try walking like a penguin parent who has to balance an egg on the feet to protect it.. Replica eggs will be available and penguin artifacts from volunteers at an information station.
Zoo admission includes Penguin Day activities and is $21.95 adults and $15.95 children aged 3 to 11 and seniors 65 and over. Children 2 and under are admitted free. Parking is $14. Brookfield Zoo is at 8400 31st Street, Brookfield. For more information about World Penguin Day at Brookfield Zoo, visit CZS.org/Events or call (708) 688-8000.
Knowing that the world sometimes forgets how wars, including civil wars, affect children, the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR in Sweden asked award-winning Swedish photojournalist Magnus Wennman to photograph Syrian children in refugee camps and temporary shelters in the Middle East and Europe.
Wennman visited camps in Lebanon, Turkey, Greece and Germany among others where he photographed children as they slept or tried to sleep.
The photos are powerful but the stories next to each one are even more so. They make up a traveling exhibit with the #I Care, now at the Illinois Holocaust Museum in Skokie, titled “Where the Children Sleep.” The I Care hash tag came from a #Who Cares question that was raised. Read More
Certainly, the Field Museum is known for its T Rex and dinosaurs in its “Evolving Planet” exhibition and for its native American exhibits including the popular Pawnee Earth Lodge.
But another favorite permanent exhibition is “Inside Ancient Egypt” where visitors descend down into a tomb and see painted mummy coffins.
Now, the contents of those coffins and others can be revealed because of current technology.
“Mummies,” the Field’s newest exhibition doesn’t just display coffins, many of which are gilded. It has wrapped mummies, mummy masks, some CT scans, a CT scanner and ceramics
It also has sculptures and 3D images that show what a mummified person likely looked like when alive.
For instance, there is a mummy of an Egyptian woman in the exhibit from 1,500 years ago that scientists say died when in her 40s, had curly hair and a slight overbite.
Just as fascinating are interactive touch-table stations where visitors see artifacts and mummies the way scientists do.
“This exhibition allows visitors to see how we use modern technologies to learn about the lives of ancient peoples and cultures,” said Curator Bill Parkinson.
“Before, you would have to unwrap the mummy, or even cut it open, to learn more about it. Now we can use non-destructive methods to learn so much more about the past,” Parkinson said.
Also featured, is Peruvian mummification done by the Andean cultures earlier than in Egypt.
“One of the unique things about this exhibition is the inclusion of the Peruvian mummification traditions, which started much earlier than in Egypt and lasted until the Spanish conquest 500 years ago,” said Curator Ryan Williams. “That seven thousand year history of Andean mummification is something most people have never heard previously.”
“Mummies,” up now through April 21, was developed as a traveling exhibit by the Field Museum but has just returned home.
“Because the exhibition is back at its home base, we’ll be able to include some cool artifacts that were too fragile to send out on the road,” said Exhibitions Project Manager Janet Hong.
Thus, a couple of two-and-a-half-foot tall Peruvian beer jars, once shown at Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair, were added to the exhibit.
Mummies is a ticketed exhibition. A Good way to see it and such exhibits available through General Admission such as “Inside Ancient Egypt” is with a Discovery or All-Access pass.
The Field Museum is at 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago. Hours: Daily 9 .am. to 5 p.m. except Christmas. For tickets and more information call (312) 922-9410 and visit Field Museum.
A timely new exhibit, “Mirroring China’s Past: Emperors and their Bronzes,” fills the Art Institute of Chicago’s Regensenstein Hall. Opened Feb. 24, 2018, to coincide with the Chinese New Year, the exhibit’s ancient ornamental containers and related art pieces were used for a variety of ceremonies.
The exhibit, which continues through May 13, 2018, brings together many objects not seen outside of China.
But no matter when visitors go there are few tips that should add to their experience.
Upon walking into the exhibition space, it is easy to start looking at all the vessels. There are nearly 200 works assembled from Beijing’s Palace Museum, Shanghai Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, other museums and from private collections. They mirrored what was important in the Chinese culture during their period.
However, turn right first to see a large, wall-sized photo reproduction of a Chinese delegation that visited Chicago in the early 20th century. Look at the bronze set being held. Then see the actual pieces in a case across the room. The spectacular set is on loan from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Next, while meandering through the exhibit, stop in front of a small, easy-to-miss video screen on a long, wall to the right.. It shows how bronzes were created in molds.
However, this exhibit is not merely about the bronzes. It also is about the emperors who valued and collected them. So when turning the corner of the main room, stop and sit a minute where a short movie on Emperor Quianlong shows some of the treasures he housed in the Forbidden City, the imperial palace of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. The complex is home to the Palace Museum.
The film and exhibition curator Tao Wang, the Art Institute’s Pritzker Chair of Asian Art explain Quianlong’s and other emperors’ views on the importance of collecting bronzes.
“For the emperor-collectors, ancient bronzes were more than a collection piece,” said Wang. “They were perceived as the Mandate of Heaven – an embodiment or symbol of moral and political authority.”
DETAILS: “Mirroring China’s Past: Emperors and their Bronzes” is at the Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave, Chicago, now through May 13, 2018. For admission fees, hours and other information call (312) 433-3600 and visit ARTIC.
“I look at my work sometimes as play… a kind of joyous play.”
So said artist Howardena Pindell at the Museum of Contemporary Art opening of “What Remains To Be Seen.”
Even though Pindell’s works have been in shows every year for the past several years, the current MCA exhibit is the first, all encompassing survey of her 50-year career.
It includes her move from figurative to abstraction and activism to occasional returns to figurative forms. But throughout the periods are personal reactions to what it feels like to be black and female. Yet, the playfulness is evident throughout the exhibit.
Pindell enjoyed finding different tools and materials to create art including hole punchers, file-folder stock and beveled cutouts found in a museum’s trash where she was an assistant curator.
The exhibit features several works where holes were either punched or painted by means of oak-board stencils. Some are best viewed up close to note that works that at first appears monochromatic, isn’t.
The show reveals a fascination with numbers, math, patterns and grids. Indeed, visitors who look closely will find numbers in some of the hole-punch designs.
But in some works, the holes are merely a fascinating pattern.
In another series, numbers and arrows add interest to Pindell’s video drawings as if they were instructions. Created on acetate held by static electricity to a television screen, they are an impressive, unusual form of art.
“I was looking for a fun way to use the videos,” she said. She pointed out that some people thought the numbers and arrows looked like football playbook arrows.
Another technique was cutting up postcards from her extensive travels to form collages.
Part of her “Autobiography” series, they were memory aids because a life-threatening accident in 1979 included a serious concussion that resulted in temporary memory loss.
Work that is play in Pinell’s career is based on a strong art background.
Born in 1943, Pindell graduated from the Philadelphia High School for Girls and studied art at the Philadelphia College of Art and other art schools before getting a BFA from Boston University and MFA from Yale.
“They all wanted me to use figurative art when I was moving into abstraction,” Pindell said at the exhibit opening.
She felt some satisfaction when an influential woman in the academic art world who had expressed a negative view of Pindell’s favoring abstraction over traditional figurative style, turned up at the Museum of Modern Art (NYC’s MoMA) where Pindell was working (first as an exhibit assistant and then an associate curator). “When she saw me, she said, “Oh.”
The MCA exhibit features her different styles. But what also comes across is her use of pattern and color.
Pindell, a longtime professor of art at Stony Brook University, New York (part of SUNY, a state university), stressed the importance of understanding color depth. She pointed out that she focused on the composition of color with her painting students.”They learn it’s not just, “red,” she explained.
No matter what the subject or materials used, exhibit visitors will see how Pindell’s use of color is very effective, ranging from ethereal to a rich.
Colors, materials and pattern movements seem to draw visitors into her works. Pindell refers to that phenomenon as “space.” “What I’m working on now is space going into the painting and space going out of the painting.”
She also puts herself into her works, literally.
Tips: Don’t walk too fast past “Autobiography: Fire (Suttee),” 1986-87. Done in mixed media on canvas and on loan from the Nancy and Peter Huber Collection, its rich colors and patterns might obscure the fact that there is an outline of Pindell’s body in the picture
It references a former custom of expecting a widow in India to kill herself after her husband dies. It also stands for human suffering and her own experiences with being black and a woman.
Also watch her in the performance video, “Free, White and 21” (1980) when she compares black and white women’s experiences.
DETAILS: “Howardena Pindell: What Remains To Be Seen,” is at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, 220 E. Chicago Ave., now through May 20, 2018. For more information call (312) 280-2660 and visit MCA Chicago.