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Art in Chicago: Resisting Regionalism, Transforming Modernism
February 4 - April 2, 2006
(above: Art Green (born 1941), Deceptive Practices, 1974, oil on canvas, 49 13/16 x 38 9/16 inches. Gift of James Arthur Varchmin, 1986.49.3)
Long known as a center for architectural and literary innovation, the contributions to the visual arts by Chicagoans have, surprisingly, received less attention. From February 4 to April 2, 2006, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts will for the first time in Philadelphia survey the daring and technically brilliant work produced by major figures who passed through or made Chicago their home in Art in Chicago: Resisting Regionalism, Transforming Modernism. (right: Aaron Bohrod (1907-1992), Oakdale Avenue at Night, 1942, oil on masonite, 21 x 28 inches. Henry D. Gilpin Fund, 1943.4)
The exhibition of about 60 paintings, sculpture, and works on paper, organized by Associate Curator and Chicago native Robert Cozzolino, draws on a superb group of works from the Academy's collection and is supplemented by important loans drawn largely from private collections. It will be on view in the Academy's elegant Fisher Brooks Gallery in the recently renovated Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building.
"Art in Chicago gives the city of Philadelphia a rare opportunity to examine Chicago Modernism in context," says Cozzolino. "While most East Coast audiences are familiar with post-World War II artists and groups, this exhibition will trace the important links between figures of this era and those who paved the way for them in the 1920s and '30s.
"Chicago has long been seen as a bustling, sophisticated metropolis that has always maintained a gritty edge through its uncompromising bond with mavericks. This association has often created a climate of volatile testing among artists, lending itself to the city's rich cultural history and sense of cross-pollination evident in its visual art."
Included in the exhibition are cherished Academy paintings such as Leon Golub's (1922-2004) Seated Boxer (1960) as well as the recently acquired work by Jim Nutt titled I'm All A Twit (1969), which will be on view for the first time. Other works from the collection by Malvin Albright (1897-1983), Don Baum (b. 1922), Aaron Bohrod (1907-1992), Art Green (b. 1941), Gladys Nilsson (b. 1940), Barbara Rossi (b. 1940), William S. Schwartz (1896-1977), and H.C. Westermann (1922-1981) demonstrate the subtle relationships that developed in terms of form and content across generational lines. (left: Don Baum (born 1922), A Little Walk, 1964, assemblage of found objects, including wood, bones, and a doll, 23 1/4 x 36 3/4 x 3 7/8 inches. Gift of James Arthur Varchmin, 1986.49.2)
A unique feature of Art in Chicago is a series of murals painted by seven Chicago WPA artists in 1947 on the theme of the seven lively arts: architecture, dance, drama, literature, music, painting, and sculpture. The murals, each approximately 8 feet high and 4 feet wide, hung behind the bar at the now defunct Chicago eatery Riccardo's (which was owned by artist Ric Riccardo, who painted the mural for dance). Over the years, the murals were scattered, until in 2002 they were purchased and reunited by philanthropist Seymour Persky. Art in Chicago marks the first time they will be hung in a museum exhibition.
The exhibition also highlights the role of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and its complementary, yet alternative, relationship to the Academy. Many Academy students also studied in Chicago, while many SAIC students traveled to Philadelphia in such of further education at the Academy. This exhibition will allow audiences to see the relationship of both schools and cities, examining the crucial role they played in shaping the country's cultural life.
(above: William S. Schwartz (1896-1977), De Profundis, 1947, oil on canvas, 36 1/16 x 40 1/8 inches. Gift of the artist, 1967.11.1)
(above: Leon Golub (1922-2004), Seated Boxer II, 1960, oil and lacquer on canvas, 96 x 81 inches. Alexander Harrison Fund, 2004.10.1)
(above: Jim Nutt (born 1938), I'm All A TWit,
1969, acrylic reverse painting on vinyl window shade; enamel on wood,
58 1/2 x 32 1/2 inches. Pennsylvania Academy Purchase Fund, 2005.14)
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