College to Host Art Symposium ‘The Figure, Humor and the Chicago Imagists’ on Dec. 16

November 14, 2018 | by the Office of Communications and Public Affairs
In Vertical Shade by Gladys Nilsson, 1984

In Vertical Shade by Gladys Nilsson, 1984

Bold, graphic, irreverent and inspired by pop culture, the work of Chicago Imagist artists includes highly original, personal expressions of the human form.

On Dec. 16, Elmhurst College will host The Figure, Humor and the Chicago Imagists, a full-day symposium that explores works by Chicago Imagist artists and highlights the College’s extraordinary collection of Imagist art.

The symposium will explore the ways in which the Chicago Imagists used humor in their depictions of the figure. Featuring presentations and discussions on the topic, it also includes the opportunity to view 33 works from the College’s collection that are on exhibition at the Elmhurst Art Museum.

The symposium begins with an introduction by Suellen Rocca, curator of the Elmhurst College Art Collection and one of six artists who formed the Hairy Who, a groundbreaking artist group founded in Chicago in the 1960s. Known for their powerfully graphic images and brazen sense of humor, the Hairy Who and others working in the ’60s and ’70s whose works possessed a similar spirit became known as the Chicago Imagists.

The main presentation will be given by writer and curator Dan Nadel, who recently organized the exhibition What Nerve! Alternative Figures in American Art, 1960 to the Present, at the Rhode Island School of Art and Design and Matthew Marks Gallery in New York City.

The Figure, Humor and the Chicago Imagists symposium begins at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 16, in the Schaible Science Center, Illinois Hall; and later moves to the Elmhurst Art Museum (150 Cottage Hill Ave., Elmhurst). Admission to the symposium is free, but seating is limited and reservations are required.

Since 2006, Rocca has overseen the Elmhurst College Art Collection, which comprises more than 150 works of art and is known as the finest public collection of its kind. An important resource for students, faculty and the community, works from the collection have been exhibited around the country and all over the world.

The Figure, Humor and the Chicago Imagists is funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art as part of Art Design Chicago, an initiative of the Terra Foundation exploring Chicago’s art and design legacy. Chicago Imagist art, including pieces from the Elmhurst College Art Collection, can be viewed at a number of Art Design Chicago exhibitions, including these:

Hairy Who? 1966-1969

Through Jan. 6, 2019
Art Institute of Chicago
111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago

This is the first major comprehensive retrospective focused exclusively on the groundbreaking Hairy Who, held on the 50th anniversary of their final Chicago show. Beginning at the Hyde Park Art Center in the late 1960s, this self-named, self-organized group of six artists—Jim Falconer, Art Green, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Suellen Rocca and Karl Wirsum—presented six exhibitions across the country in just four short years. Together, their inventive and outrageous artwork, comic book publications and posters transformed the landscape of art in Chicago and beyond.

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The Figure and the Chicago Imagists: Selections from the Elmhurst College Art Collection

Through Jan. 20, 2019
Elmhurst Art Museum
150 Cottage Hill Ave., Elmhurst

This exhibition features more than 30 works from the internationally known Elmhurst College Art Collection, focusing on artists working in Chicago between about 1950 and the present.

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South Side Stories

The Time is Now! Art Worlds of Chicago’s South Side, 1960-1980

Through Dec. 30, 2018
The University of Chicago, Smart Museum of Art
5550 S. Greenwood Ave., Chicago

This exhibition explores how the South Side’s vibrant worlds shaped Chicago’s cultural landscape in the 1960s and 1970s from the Black Arts and Community Mural movements to the Chicago Imagists and outsider art. Artists living, working and exhibiting on the South Side charted new artistic courses, challenged the political status quo, created new spaces for art, and reimagined the future. Presented in partnership with the DuSable Museum as part of South Side Stories.

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3-D Doings: The Imagist Object in Chicago Art, 1964-1980

Through Jan. 6, 2019
Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College
Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

This exhibition explores the sculptural work and dimensional paintings of Chicago artists who invented their own kind of pop art: Chicago Imagism, a warm, personal, humorous strain of pop that contrasted with varieties in New York and London. The first in-depth exploration of the overall affinity of Imagist artists for the object, 3-D Doings expands the Imagist legacy to audiences beyond Chicago.

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For more information, visit the Art Design Chicago website.

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