To subscribe to the MCA Podcast and receive automatic updates of our audio tours and talks & discussions, add it directly to iTunes with a single click. Alternatively, you can add our feed, http://feeds.feedburner.com/mcachicago, to your favorite non-iTunes podcast app or other feed reader.

Isa Genzken: Retrospective (audio tour)

Posted

Isa Genzken is one of the most important and influential female sculptors of our time. Yet, although she had a solo show at Chicago’s Renaissance Society, in 1992, she has never had a large-scale retrospective in an American museum. This exhibition of work by the Berlin-based German artist, organized jointly by MCA Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Dallas Museum of Art, seeks to correct that oversight, introducing American audiences to the breadth of Genzken’s 30-plus-year career.

Genzken cannot be defined by a single medium or tradition and has made compelling and influential contributions in numerous fields. It is difficult to pinpoint a contemporary artist who has pursued such an intentionally varied path, and in recent years, a new generation of artists, curators, and art lovers has been inspired by her radical inventiveness. The past decade has been particularly productive for Genzken, who has taken her interest in found objects and collage and created several bodies of work that have redefined assemblage for a new era.

This exhibition encompasses the artist’s work in all media, produced over the past four decades. Divided into chronological sections and arranged thematically within those sections, the exhibition presents these major works and series as nodal points that signal new phases or chapters in the artist’s oeuvre. Together with the accompanying catalogue, which will place Genzken’s work in an art historical context as well as trace her influence on an international array of sculptors working today, the exhibition secures Genzken’s legacy as a transgenerational force in international contemporary art.

This exhibition is organized by Michael Darling, James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Sabine Breitwieser, Chief Curator of Media and Performance Art (until January 31, 2013) at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Laura Hoptman, Curator in the Department of Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and Jeffrey Grove, Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the Dallas Museum of Art.

William J. O’Brien (audio tour)

Posted

William J. O’Brien, the artist’s first major solo museum exhibition, demonstrates his prolific output in a broad range of media, from sculpture and ceramics to drawing, textiles, and painting. His works on paper usually feature exuberant colors and geometric patterning that mimic the automatic drawings of the Surrealists while faintly evoking psychedelia and dream paintings. His ceramics are playfully formed, often drizzled with vividly colored glazes, and exhibit a range of cultural references, from ethnographic objects of the ancient past to “face jugs” of the antebellum American South. His paintings are accumulations of pigment, fabric, string, and other materials that appear to droop toward the floor, and his sculptures of tenuously attached die-cut shapes, while stiff and upright, seem to create more negative space than positive forms.

Stemming from the artist’s interest in language and poetry, the exhibition will be organized like a poem and is divided into several sections, or stanzas. Each section features works in several media to underscore the connections between disparate objects, as well as the artist’s interest in scale. Above all, the exhibition develops new language around O’Brien’s contemporary abstract artworks—language that focuses on process rather than individual expression or technique and that considers his body of work as a reflection of a multitude of cultural sources. O’Brien’s first artist’s monograph, produced by MCA Chicago, accompanies the show.

The Way of the Shovel (audio tour)

Posted

The Way of the Shovel: Art as Archaeology traces the interest in history, archaeology, and archival research that defines some of the most highly regarded art of the last decade. Consisting almost entirely of work produced after the year 2000, The Way of the Shovel re-imagines the art world as an alternative “History Channel” that is as concerned with remembering histories as it is with challenging their truthfulness. Archaeology is considered both metaphorically and literally, with an emphasis on historical and archival research and the relationship between objects and historical truth.

MCA Chicago Plaza Project: Amanda Ross-Ho (audio tour)

Posted

Los Angeles–based artist Amanda Ross-Ho premieres her first outdoor public art project, THE CHARACTER AND SHAPE OF ILLUMINATED THINGS, in which she explores how photography is a direct analogue to the act of seeing. Updating Joseph Beuys’s famous declaration “Everyone is an artist,” Ross-Ho suggests more specifically that today everyone is a photographer, as the ubiquity and speed of digital photography shapes the way we view and experience the world. In Ross-Ho’s hands, the plaza is transformed into an enormous photo studio, with objects on display for the purpose of being photographed by the public, while the sun serves as a shifting source of light, affecting both our perception of how the objects look in real life and how they appear in our photographs.

THE CHARACTER AND SHAPE OF ILLUMINATED THINGS is the third iteration of the MCA Chicago Plaza Project, which has previously featured work by Mark Handforth (2011) and Martin Creed (2012).

Modern Cartoonist: The Art of Daniel Clowes (audio tour)

Posted

Daniel Clowes is an acclaimed comic book artist and graphic novelist—although he prefers the designation “cartoonist”—with nearly fifty publications to his credit. He is also a highly reputed magazine illustrator (and regular cover artist for the New Yorker) and an Oscar-nominated screenwriter for the film adaptation of his 1997 graphic novel Ghost World, which is widely credited with establishing the graphic novel as a credible literary form. This major survey, the first museum retrospective of Clowes’s work, presents more than 125 original drawings and artifacts in an elegant, inviting installation combining today’s graphic style with shades of a Victorian parlor.

Amalia Pica (audio tour)

Posted

Born in Argentina and based in London, artist Amalia Pica explores metaphor, communication, and civic participation through drawings, sculptures, large-scale photographic prints, live performances, and installations. Pica is interested in the limits and failures of language and in what it means to have a platform to speak out from. Using simple materials such as photocopies, lightbulbs, drinking glasses, beer bottles, bunting, cardboard, and other found materials, she creates work that is formally beautiful and conceptually rigorous while addressing fundamental issues of communication. Raising questions about individual versus collective speech and the translation of thought to action, she examines the role of the artist in conveying messages to audiences. Pica’s work is also optimistic in its reflection of moments of shared experience, often incorporating signifiers of celebration and communal gatherings—found and constructed objects that revel in simple, and sometimes outmoded, technologies. Amalia Pica is the artist’s first major solo museum exhibition in the United States and includes approximately fifteen of her most significant works from the last seven years, in addition to new commissions.

Goshka Macuga: Exhibit, A (audio tour)

Posted

This exhibition is the first survey of work by Polish-born, London-based artist Goshka Macuga. Macuga’s work interweaves two strands that have helped define contemporary art in the last decade: artists’ increasing tendency toward historical and archival research and their growing interest in strategies of display and the dialogue between artistic and curatorial practice. Many of Macuga’s large-scale, research-intensive projects have been collaborative, with the resulting installations often incorporating the work of other artists. Initially, many of her projects tapped into overlooked traditions in art history, but in more recent years her work has taken a political turn, frequently featuring post-Soviet Poland or the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 as a backdrop. The exhibition features a selection of works that vary in size, content, and context, emphasizing the medium of collage, both two- and three-dimensional.

This exhibition is organized by Dieter Roelstraete, Manilow Senior Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

 

Color Bind: The MCA Collection in Black and White (audio tour)

Posted

Color Bind: The MCA Collection in Black and White investigates the museum’s rich permanent collection through one of art history’s basic formal lenses: the use of the colors black and white. In doing so, the exhibition considers how color can be used literally, formally, and metaphorically in art and reveals how apparently formal considerations are often rooted in social issues. With dozens of works in all media, Color Bind muses on the ways the English words “black” and “white” evoke both simple formal notions and metaphors for race, politics, and historical movements. Set to coincide with the recent US presidential election, this exhibition calls attention to the ways seemingly neutral formal terms assume moral dimensions that, in turn, complicate and politicize the very works assumed to be neutral.

 

Jimmy Robert Vis-à-vis (audio tour)

Posted

Aug 25–Nov 25, 2012

Jimmy Robert Vis-à-vis is the first major solo museum exhibition in the United States of work by Brussels-based artist Jimmy Robert. Working in a range of media—including photography, film, video, sculpture, and collaborative performance—Robert gently breaks down divisions between two and three dimensions, image and object. Extending into the space of the gallery, Robert’s sculptural photographic works create a relationship to the viewer’s body, while their materials underscore a sense of impermanence. Robert’s films and videos, broadly inspired by the French New Wave and work by feminist filmmakers such as Marguerite Duras and Chantal Akerman, convey a sense of the ordinary in their scale, subject, and material. Of a similarly intimate register, Robert’s dance and performance works value gesture and chance over elaborate choreography, referring to Fluxus and the Judson Dance Theater.

Skyscraper: Art and Architecture Against Gravity (audio tour)

Posted

Skyscraper: Art and Architecture Against Gravity examines contemporary works of art that take as their subject the form, technology, myth, message, and image of that iconic building structure, the skyscraper. While the exhibition has particular relevance to Chicago, the city that is widely known as the birthplace of this architectural type, artists throughout the world—in addition to authors, filmmakers, poets, and undoubtedly architects—have been enthralled by the human desire to build farther and farther into the sky, testing technological limits while embodying a yearning for spiritual connection to the heavens. Artists’ endeavors to explore this desire have taken many forms, from video and film to sculpture, painting, and photography.