The MCA presents a number of projects by artists from around the world, including a video installation by French filmmaker Pierre Huyghe; a large-scale photographic installation by Swiss photographer Beat Streuli; an installation of sculpture and works on paper by Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara; a sculptural garden installation by German artist Tobias Rehberger; and a film installation and suite of photographs by British filmmaker Isaac Julien.
The MCA also presented a number of collection exhibitions, including the major exhibition Age of Influence: Reflections in the Mirror of American Culture; the first full installation of African American artist Glenn Ligon’s Runaways and Narratives; Tom Friedman, the first survey of the artist’s work debuts at the MCA; and Chicago artist Anne Wilson receives her first solo museum exhibition. The MCA also features major exhibitions on the work of Sol LeWitt, Ed Ruscha, and Catherine Opie. Greg Cameron becomes associate director. Major acquisitions include David Hammons’s Praying to Safety and Jeff Koons’s Rabbit.
A major MCA-organized retrospective of H. C. Westermann debuts at the MCA before touring the country. The MCA also debuts a survey on photographer Sharon Lockhart and a site-specific installation by German sculptor Katharina Fritsch. Project exhibitions by A. A. Bronson, Gilbert & George, and Christian Marclay are presented, along with works by Chicago artist Tony Fitzpatrick.
The MCA also takes part in a citywide exhibition of Polish art with a site-specific installation by Pawel Althamer. The year comes to a close with a dedication to Africa as the MCA presents The Short Century: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa, 1945–1994 and the retrospective of South African artist William Kentridge.
Local artists are selected to participate in the MCA’s new 12 x 12: New Artists/New Work monthly exhibition series highlighting emerging Chicago artists. Maurizio Cattalan’s commissioned sculpture Felix, a dinosaur-sized cat skeleton, is installed in the MCA atrium. The MCA/Studio Museum of Harlem organized survey of Gary Simmons is presented opposite the heralded Mies in America.
Project exhibitions Donald Moffett: What Barbara Jordan Wore and Matta in America: Paintings and Drawings of the 1940s are organized by MCA James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator Elizabeth Smith, and a major retrospective of Andreas Gursky boosts museum attendance. The MCA also debuts Gillian Wearing: Mass Observation alongside the traveling exhibition Archigram: Experimental Architecture 1961–1974. Manilow Senior Curator Francesco Bonami is named Curator of the 2003 Venice Biennale.
The MCA presents John Currin’s first solo museum exhibition in the United States, coproduced by the Serpentine Gallery, London. Kerry James Marshall: One True Thing, Meditations on Black Aesthetics presents five years of the Chicago artist’s new work in painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, and video. In February, Hiroshi Sugimoto: Architecture features the photographer’s images of landmark structures around the globe. A solo exhibition of photographer Thomas Struth traces his artistic development, from early photographs of Chicago, Tokyo, New York, and Rome to experiments with color in the mountains of Asia. Helen Zell becomes chair of the board of trustees.
In April, the Builders Association and motiroti present Alladeen, a collaborative performance based on early central Asian legends that takes on multiple forms. MCA Stage features choreographer Beppie Blanker and composer Louis Andriessen’s collaborative work Odyssey, a dance-music work based on Homer’s Odysseia and James Joyce’s Ulysses. MCA Stage hosts a performance of solo guitar by Frank Bungarten, presented in conjunction with the opening of Thomas Struth’s exhibition.
The MCA organizes an immensely popular, first-ever retrospective of the work of Lee Bontecou. The first in-depth survey of the work of Chicago-based artist Dan Peterman opens at the museum, and the MCA holds its first exhibition devoted to fashion, Skin Tight: The Sensibility of the Flesh.
Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from China, co-organized with the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago and the International Center of Photography, New York, arrives at the MCA. In conjunction with About Face Theatre, the MCA produces I Am My Own Wife, which then travels to New York and wins a Pulitzer Prize and two Tony Awards.
The MCA joins nine other museums to become one of the Museums in the Park, a collective of Chicago cultural institutions partially sponsored by the Chicago Park District. Francesco Bonami curates Universal Experience: Art, Life, and the Tourist’s Eye, examining art, history, space, and identity through the point of view of a tourist. The renowned Paul Taylor Dance Company performs at the MCA during its 50-state 50th anniversary tour, and the Asian American Jazz Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary at the MCA and other venues throughout the city. After mounting the first solo museum exhibition on the work of Dan Flavin in 1967, the MCA presents Dan Flavin: A Retrospective, the first comprehensive retrospective of his important contribution to contemporary art.
Aernout Mik: Refraction, a part of the 3M project with the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, and the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, brings a haunting video installation from the Dutch filmmaker to Chicago. Tropicália: A Revolution in Brazilian Culture showcases one of the most significant modern cultural movements in South America, and the MCA presentation appears in conjunction with a gala; five concerts; a film series; and more than a dozen lectures, classes, tours, workshops, and family programs. The Green Team begins meeting to reduce the museum’s environmental impact through revising resource-wasting practices and expanding the recycling program.
ANDY WARHOL/SUPERNOVA: Stars, Deaths, and Disasters, 1962–1964 brings enormous crowds to the galleries while early Warhol films are screened in the theater. Massive Change: The Future of Global Design, organized by guest curator Bruce Mau, raises important questions about how design influences the way we live, and brings together an unprecedented array of related programs throughout the city. The museum presents the first major US retrospectives of German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans and American artist Richard Tuttle.
The MCA is instrumental in co-organizing the first-ever Bodies of Work: The Festival of Disability Arts and Culture, a citywide festival showcasing the work of artists with disabilities. In recognition of the MCA’s commitment to providing access to the arts for people with disabilities, the museum is awarded the Arts Presenters/MetLife Foundation Award for Excellence in Arts Access.
In January, the MCA presents Rudolf Stingel in the artist’s first solo museum exhibition in the United States. The collection-based exhibition MCA EXPOSED: Defining Moments in Photography, 1967–2007 features the work of more than 60 artists and highlights the collection’s unique strength in conceptual photography. Following the passing of Sol LeWitt in April, the museum presents Sol LeWitt in Memoriam. Also in April, the Martha Graham Dance Company takes the stage in celebration of the long-time collaboration between the mother of modern dance and sculptor, Isamu Noguchi. Proceeds from the sold-out Martha Graham Dance Company Opening-Night Benefit Celebration benefits MCA Performance Programs.
The groundbreaking exhibition Escultura Social: A New Generation of Art from Mexico City portrays the city as a hub of innovation and explores contemporary Mexican art through Joseph Beuys’s multifaceted concept of social sculpture. The museum celebrates its 40th anniversary from September 29 to November 14, with 40 days of free admission, more than 120 events, 70,000 visitors, and thrilling performances, including the spectacular MCA@40 Gala that features a performance by pioneering rock legend Patti Smith. The museum also presents several collection-based exhibitions including Upon an Ether Sea: Water and Ship Imagery from the MCA Collection, featuring work by Hiroshi Sugimoto and Jeff Koons, among others; and Record Times: 40 Years from the MCA Archive, celebrating the MCA’s history.
In October, the MCA and Intonation Music Festival team up for Rock/Art, an afternoon concert featuring local musicians. Legendary singer Diamanda Galás also performs to sold-out crowds in the theater. The Complaints Choir comes to the MCA in November, creating a new work out of complaints from the greater Chicago area. In December, the Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet celebrates their 10th anniversary with a performance at the MCA. Rounding out 2007, the museum curates Sympathy for the Devil: Art and Rock and Roll Since 1967, an examination of the relationship between visual art and rock culture, reaching back to the same year that the MCA first opened its doors.
The MCA welcomes Madeleine Grynsztejn as the museum’s new Pritzker Director. Janet Alberti becomes Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer. Developed and presented exclusively in Chicago, guest-curator Francesco Bonami, along with the MCA, revisits the long-standing career of Jeff Koons with an exhibition that explores the significance of his work for a new generation. Jenny Holzer: PROTECT PROTECT immerses the MCA’s main floor galleries in flashing light and text-based installations that join political bravura with beauty, sensitivity, and power. Holzer projects excerpts from poems by Wislawa Szymborska on the facade of the MCA and other landmark Chicago buildings. Recent Acquisitions, Utopian Station, Everything’s Here, and USA Today all draw from the museum’s permanent collection to exhibit the diverse acquisitions of the MCA.
Peace Salon offers visitors on the MCA Plaza the opportunity to commit to peace and elect to have their heads shaved by artist Erin O’Brien. The MCA presents significant retrospectives of American artists Karen Kilimnik and Gordon Matta-Clark. The MCA also displays internationally recognized American artist Joseph Grigley and his new video installation, St. Cecilia. On the MCA Stage, Elevator Repair Service presents Gatz, a six-hour staging of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, unabridged and read aloud. The season also features performances by artists Laurie Anderson, Heather Raffo, and many others. Hellen Zell retires as board of trustees chair and passes the reins to Mary Ittelson.
In March, MCA Chicago presents a collection of Buckminster Fuller’s sketches, models, and other artifacts, an illuminating look at the artist’s utopian vision and organic pragmatism. The MCA also exhibits the United States’s first comprehensive survey of Olafur Eliasson’s work, whose environmental approach foregrounds the relationship between nature and culture. In October, the MCA features Liam Gillick: Three Perspectives and a Short Scenario, curated by MCA Curator Dominic Molon, which asserts the importance of interaction and engagement through sculpture. Constellations, an exhibition of paintings from the MCA’s permanent collection, explores the development of the medium from the 1940s to the present.
Jeremy Deller’s It Is What It Is: Conversations About Iraq engages visitors into dialogues with war veterans, journalists, and Iraqi nationals about the war and its aftermath. On the MCA Stage, legendary composer and pianist Phillip Glass performs an evening of piano compositions to a sold-out crowd. MCA Stage also presents a 30th anniversary performance of choreographer Lucinda Childs’s DANCE, a collaborative work which features music by Phillip Glass and film by Sol LeWitt. The season also features an interpretation of Frankenstein by The Hypocrites, as well as performances by the Chicago Human Rhythm Project, the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), and Compagnie Marie Chouinard.