Fall Arts Preview 2015: Visual Arts

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The Art Institute of Chicago created a sensation in the art world in April when it announced the largest gift of art in its 136-year-history – 42 contemporary masterworks from the Chicago-based collectors and philanthropists Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson. In addition to nine key works by Andy Warhol, this transformative donation includes top-flight examples by such pivotal artists as Eric Fischl, Jasper Johns, Jeff Koons, Brice Marden, Takashi Murakami, Cindy Sherman and Cy Twombly.

The public will get its first chance Dec. 13 to view these new additions to the collection, with member previews on Dec. 11 and 12. The museum, at 111 S. Michigan, plans to present all 42 as part of “The New Contemporary,” a reinstallation of its second-floor contemporary galleries in the Renzo Piano-designed Modern Wing (artic.edu).

Here is a look at 10 other highlights of the fall visual arts scene in Chicago:

Through Oct. 3, “Mimi Lauter,” Shane Campbell Gallery, 2021 S. Wabash (shanecampbellgallery.com). This well-respected Los Angeles artist creates lushly abstract oil and pastel drawings that find indirect inspiration in nature and the figure. “Every surface here pulses with immediacy, and also resonates with myriad currents from the past: the majesty of tapestries; the rawness of cave painting; the palettes and peculiarities of Ensor, Redon, Vuillard, Turner, Klimt,” wrote Leah Ollman in 2014 in the Los Angeles Times.


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Through Nov. 8, “Photographs Get Moving (potatoes and shells, too),” University of Chicago, Logan Center Gallery, 915 E. 60th (arts.uchicago.edu). Agnès Varda is renowned as one of the leaders of the French New Wave, having directed more than 40 films for television and cinema, beginning with “La Pointe Courte” in 1954. Less well known is that the 87-year-old director is also a significant visual artist, and she will show that side of her creativity with this exhibition of four recent video installations and a selection of photographic work. In addition, Varda will take part in an Oct. 8-15 celebration of her artistic accomplishments at the university that will include public conversations and film screenings.

Sept. 12, 2105-July 2, 2017: “Rose’s Inclination,” University of Chicago, Smart Museum of Art, 5550 S. Greenwood Ave. (smartmuseum.uchicago.edu); Through Jan. 16, “Door Hinges,” Kavi Gupta Chicago, 219 N. Elizabeth (kavigupta.com). Jessica Stockholder has built an international reputation through her playfully inventive approaches to installation art. As head of the University of Chicago’s department of visual arts, she is one of the city’s best-known artists. At the Smart Museum, Stockholder has taken over the lobby with an enveloping installation that stretches out to the sculpture garden, and her show at Kavi Gupta features studio works that merge painting and sculpture.

Sept. 17-20, Expo Chicago, Festival Hall, Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand (expochicago.com). Drawing more than 32,500 visitors in 2014, including local residents and collectors from across the country, this annual event has gained a place as one of the top international contemporary art fairs in the United States. This year’s edition will feature 140 leading galleries from 15 countries, with an array of panel discussions and other subsidiary programming

National Museum of African American History and Culture Washington Monument DC D.C.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., is a creation of David Adjaye, subject of an Art Institute exhibit this fall. | Courtesy of Adjaye Associates. Photo by Steve Hall, Hedrich Blessing

Sept. 19, 2015-Jan. 3, 2016 — “Making Place: The Architecture of David Adjaye,” Art Institute of Chicago. Adjaye first made his name with innovative approaches to urban residences and collaborations with artists such as Chris Ofili, but his practice has since exploded in scale with four offices spread around the globe. He is one of the principal architects of the National Museum of African American History and Culture under construction in Washington, D.C., and he is rumored to be a frontrunner to design the Obama presidential library. This is the first major museum exhibition to take stock of his accomplishments to date.

Oct. 1, 2015-Jan. 10, 2016 — “Expressionist Impulses: German and Central European Art, 1890-1990,” Smart Museum of Art. While Expressionism in German and Central European art tends to be associated primarily with the socio-politically charged movement that reached its peak there in the 1920s, its impact has stretched much further across time. This exhibition looks at a century of Expressionist-tinged works, including examples by such well-known artists as Josef Albers, George Grosz, Erich Heckel, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Käthe Kollwitz, Jan Matulka, Emil Nolde and Kurt Schwitters.

Oct. 3, 2015-Jan. 3,2016 — Chicago Architecture Biennial, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington and four other locations (chicagoarchitecturebiennial.org). This much-anticipated biennial is the first such event in North America, offering a counterpart to long-established architectural expos in Venice, Italy, and São Paulo, Brazil. It will feature exhibits by more than 100 international architects in five venues, with an array of lectures, symposia and other supporting programs. Concurrent tie-in exhibitions are taking place across the metropolitan area, such as “Lessons from Modernism,” running through Nov. 29 at the Elmhurst Art Museum (elmhurstartmuseum.org).

Oct. 17, 2015-Feb. 14, 2016 — “Homegrown: The School of the Art Institute in the Permanent Collection,” Art Institute of Chicago. Many of Chicago’s best-known artists studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Art Institute has in turn carefully built a representative collection of their work over the decades. This exhibition celebrates the long, intimate association of the museum and its school with about 120 objects, mostly works on paper, created by SAIC attendees, including notable members of the Hairy Who as well as their Monster Roster predecessors like Leon Golub and Nancy Spero.



Nov. 8, 2015-Jan. 24, 2016 — “Paul McCarthy Drawings,” University of Chicago, Renaissance Society, 5811 S. Ellis Ave. (renaissancesociety.org). Never shying away from blood, sex and gore, McCarthy is the true bad boy of the art world. Although he is best known for his three-dimensional works, he is also a skilled draftsman – a side of his artistry represented here with “White Snow,” an on-going series that offers a darker take on the Disney version of “Snow White.” The show is part of the renowned independent art space’s centennial celebration, a series of exhibitions and other events that run from September through January.

— Dec. 19, 2015-March 27, 2016— “Pop Art Design,” Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, 220 E. Chicago (mcachicago.org). It is hard to believe there is any aspect of pop art that has not already been exhaustively investigated, but this touring exhibition seems to have uncovered one. Organized by the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany, it explores pop’s influence on 1960s and ‘70s design and vice versa, pairing iconic creations from the two realms.

Kyle MacMillan is a local freelance writer.

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