Phantom Limb: Approaches to Painting Today (audio tour)

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Christopher Wool

Christopher Wool
Untitled, 2010
Silkscreen ink on linen
126 x 96 in. 320 x 243.8 cm)
Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Mary and Earle Ludgin by exchange, 2011.1
Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York

May 5–Oct 21, 2012

Despite the periodic ringing of the death knell for painting, this genre of art making is alive and well. An important reason for this is its continued evolution. Painters are bound to the traditions they inherit and know that in order to keep painting alive, push it forward, and agitate for its legitimacy, they must find ways to connect it to our times. The artist’s hand—the central protagonist in modern gestural painting—has become a primary reference point for many artists intent on rethinking painting. Artists from Robert Rauschenberg to Christopher Wool have fostered skepticism about the role of the hand-made as an indicator of artistic genius or authenticity, a doubt that has found an outlet in a wide variety of paintings and artistic practices since the 1960s. This ambivalence toward the hand inspired the title of this exhibition, Phantom Limb, which brings together a wide cross-section of painterly activity by artists who are defining the terms by which we understand this tradition today.

Rashid Johnson: Message to Our Folks (audio tour)

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Rashid Johnson

Rashid Johnson
Triple Consciousness, 2009
Black soap, wax, vinyl in album cover, shea butter, plant, and brass
48 x 96 in. (121.9 x 243.8 cm)
Collection of Dr. Daniel S. Berger, Chicago
Courtesy of the artist and moniquemeloche, Chicago

Apr 14-Aug 5, 2012

MCA Chicago presents Chicago-born, New York-based artist Rashid Johnson’s first major solo museum exhibition, surveying the first fourteen years of his career. Deftly working in a range of media—including photography, painting, sculpture, and video—Johnson incorporates commonplace objects from his childhood into his work in a process he describes as “hijacking the domestic.” The artist transforms these everyday materials—such as plants, books, record albums, photographs, shea butter, and soap—into conceptually loaded and visually compelling works that challenge entrenched ways of thinking about the black experience and emphasize its plurality. Johnson investigates the construction of identity in a practice that is steeped in individual experience while invoking shared cultural references. Throughout his work, he enters into dialogue with black American creative and intellectual figures whose impact has transcended race, extending their legacy. Message to Our Folks, Johnson’s first major solo museum exhibition, examines how this work has developed over the first fourteen years of his career.

This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s (audio tour)

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Mary Heilmann

Mary Heilmann
Tehachapi #2, 1979
Collection of David Doubilet, Toronto. © Mary Heilmann. Image courtesy of the artist; 303 Gallery, New York; and Hauser & Wirth.

Feb 11–Jun 3, 2012

This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s covers the period from 1979 to 1992. During this era, the political sphere was dominated by the ideas of former US President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the music scene was transformed by punk and the birth of hip-hop, and our everyday lives were radically altered by a host of technological developments, from the Sony Walkman and the ATM to the appearance of MTV and the first personal computers. In the United States, the decade opened with an enormous anti-nuclear protest in New York’s Central Park and closed with mass demonstrations against the government’s slow response to the AIDS crisis. This exhibition attempts to make sense of what happened to the visual arts in the United States during this tumultuous period.

The artists represented in This Will Have Been belong to the first generation of artists to grow up with a television in the home. They came of age in a culture saturated with images designed to promote desire—desire for objects, for lifestyles, for fame, for conformity, for anti-conformity. So too the majority of these artists lived through the heady days of the 1970s feminist movement and witnessed that broad-based social movement’s demands for equality in all areas of life—work, family, and intimate relationships. It became the task of the 1980s to assimilate these powerful social forces—the rise of television and movements for social justice—as they converged.

For many of the artists represented in this exhibition that meant grappling with complex questions: In a world increasingly filled with mass-media images, what is the role of the visual arts? How can artists make images that either compete with or counter the powerful images produced by advertising and Hollywood? In a society struggling for increased equality, how do historically marginalized people—women, people of color, and gays and lesbians—find their public voice? Toward the end of the decade, as the rise of HIV/AIDS created a growing political and medical crisis in the United States, these questions increased in urgency. This Will Have Been features a wide range of artworks, made by a diverse group of nearly one hundred artists, demonstrating the decade’s moments of contentious debate, raucous dialogue, erudite opinions, and joyful expression—all in the name of an expanded idea of freedom, long the promise of democratic societies.

Martin Creed Plays Chicago (audio tour)

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Martin Creed

Martin Creed
Work No. 845 (THINGS), 2007
Multicolored neon
6 in. (15.2 cm) high
Collection of Toby Webster, Glasgow, Scotland
Courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown’s enterprise

Jan–Dec 2012

In works that range from intimate poetic objects to large-scale neon signs, Martin Creed (British, b. 1968) reevaluates the status of art with a generous sense of humor. As part of a yearlong residency at MCA Chicago, Creed brings his avant-garde sensibility to the building and the city. In each month of 2012, Creed unveils an artwork in a different space of the MCA, progressing upward through four floors of the building and extending his work outward to the sculpture garden and plaza and into the city of Chicago. Some works live as sculptures in the museum’s public spaces, and some projects are site specific—for instance, murals in the atrium and café. Others still, such as a work that takes the form of crumpled balls of paper placed in each of the museum’s public spaces, play with the notion of the carefully curated object. Extending his project beyond the MCA, Creed—who fronts a rock band—explores the city’s vibrant music scene as well.

IAIN BAXTER&: Works 1958-2011

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IAIN BAXTER&

IAIN BAXTER&
Television Works (detail), 1999–2006
Acrylic paint on reclaimed televisions; reclaimed pedestals; and reclaimed metal wall brackets
Dimensions variable
Promised gift of Yvonne and David Fleck, Steven and Michael Latner Families, and Eleanor and Francis Shen
Photo: Art Gallery of Ontario. © 2011 IAIN BAXTER&

Nov 5, 2011 – Jan 15, 2012

Iain Baxter legally changed his name to IAIN BAXTER& in 2005. He appended an ampersand to his name to underscore his belief that art is about connectivity, contingency, and collaboration with a viewer. A relentless emphasis on reaching out to the viewer, a core concern with ecology and the environment, and a belief that art must assume plural means and media, inform BAXTER&’s early credo: understanding that “art is all over.” This exhibition seeks to appraise the remarkable achievement of this artist, and to position his contribution in relation to mainstream histories of conceptual art, photography, and installation art.

Ron Terada: Being There

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Ron Terada

Ron Terada
See Other Side of Sign, 2006
Courtesy of Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver

Nov 5, 2011 – Jan 15, 2012

Ron Terada is a Vancouver-based artist who has exhibited extensively in Canada and Europe over the past 15 years but has had relatively little exposure in the United States. Working in the high-tech and multicultural British Columbian city, where influences back and forth across the Pacific Rim are numerous and complex, as well as exploring his own Japanese Canadian identity, Terada has built a fascinating body of work that includes paintings, photographs, video, sound, books, and graphic design. Often using his position within the art world of Vancouver as the starting point for measuring his self-worth, self-esteem, and self-identification, he has used signage, advertising, and Hollywood films in unusual and inventive ways. This is his first solo exhibition in the United States.

The Language of Less (Then and Now) Audio tour

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Richard Serra

Richard Serra
Prop, 1968
Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Mrs. Robert B. Mayer, 1978.44.a–b. © 2011 Richard Serra / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo © MCA Chicago

Then: Oct 8, 2011–Apr 15, 2012
Now: Oct 8, 2011–Mar 25, 2012

Pandora’s Box: Joseph Cornell Unlocks the MCA Collection

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Pipilotti Rist

Pipilotti Rist, Sip My Ocean (Schlürfe meinen Ozean), 1996. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Bernice and Kenneth Newberger Fund and restricted gift of Carol and Douglas Cohen. © 1996 Pipilotti Rist. Photo: Michael David Rose, © MCA Chicago.

Jun 18 – Oct 16, 2011

Jim Nutt: Coming Into Character

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Jim Nutt

Jim Nutt: Plumb, 2004. Private collection. Photo courtesy of David Nolan Gallery, New York.

January 29 – May 29, 2011

Join Lynne Warren, MCA Curator and organizer of Jim Nutt: Coming Into Character for a personal tour through the exhibition.

Seeing is a Kind of Thinking: A Jim Nutt Companion

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Eric Lebofsky

Eric Lebofsky, The Distractionist, 2009. Courtesy of the artist

January 29 – May 29, 2011

MCA’s Pamela Alper Associate Curator Julie Rodrigues Widholm, Paul Nudd, Diane Simpson and Gladys Nilsson provide insight into this companion exhibition to Jim Nutt: Coming Into Character.