When people think of the Art Institute of Chicago, African art is probably not the first thing that comes to mind, according to a museum curator.
“This is one of our great challenges or initiatives or ambitions – to make it better known,” said Constantine Petridis, museum president and curator of African Arts. “It’s always been a bit in the shadow of so many of our other big collections.”
The department’s profile is set to get a big boost on November 20 with the opening of a large-scale exhibition at Regenstein Hall, the museum’s main special exhibitions gallery, titled “The Language of Beauty in Art African”.
Featuring over 250 sculptures from cultures across the continent, this is the largest fair to date to explore the aesthetic appreciation of these objects through the eyes of their African makers and users and to clarify that their appearance is intimately related to their function.
“It’s an essential aspect of art,” Petridis said. “It’s not an afterthought. It’s not a side note. It is very often intimately linked or crucially linked to the purpose and function of these arts. Objects look good so that they succeed, that they do what they are supposed to do.
The exhibition will include loans from an assortment of public and private collections as well as selections from the Art Institute’s African collection, which dates from 1957. Petridis describes the collection as modest in size but comparable to other museums the size of the Art Institute. “It’s better than people think,” he said.
The exhibit, which traveled to the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, earlier this year, will remain on view through February 27, 2023 at The Art Institute, 111 S. Michigan (artic.edu).
Here is a selection of 10 other autumn exhibitions that are worth visiting:
Through September 25, “Flourish: The Garden at 50,” Chicago Botanical Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe (chicagobotanic.org). Only a few weeks left to see this indoor and outdoor art exhibition celebrating the Botanical Garden’s 50th anniversary. The organization has commissioned 10 nature-inspired installations by local, national and international artists. Among them are ‘The Rookery’, a fantastical castle-like structure built of twisted willow saplings by North Carolina artist Patrick Dougherty, and ‘Herbarium’, a hanging installation of dried flowers in the center of welcome by Rebecca Louise Law of Cambridge, England.
Until December 10, “Unbearable Memories, Untold Stories”, South Asia Institute, 1925 S. Michigan (saichicago.org). Some people probably still haven’t heard of the South Asia Institute, which opened in 2019 and has become a major arts and cultural destination in the South Loop. As part of its ongoing series of exhibitions, this exhibition features works from 15-year-old Pritika Chowdhry’s ‘Partition Anti-Memorial Project’, which examines the trauma and lingering aftermath of the 1947 partition of the British India in the Independent Countries of India. and Pakistan.
Until January 9, 2023, “David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020”, Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan (artic.edu). Talk about an artist who needs no introduction. Born in England but perhaps most associated with California, where he has lived on and off since 1964, Hockney emerged during the Pop Art movement of the 1960s and has been active ever since, creating his distinctive brand of bright landscapes and portraits. and stylized. This exhibition presents more than 100 works he created in 2020 using an iPad application specifically developed to meet his artistic requirements.
Until February 19, 2023, “Capturing Louis Sullivan: What Richard Nickel Saw”, Driehaus Museum, 40 E. Erie (driehausmuseum.org). As one of the seminal figures of Chicago’s modern architectural scene, Louis Sullivan needs no introduction. This exhibit features 40 photos that Nickel, a Polish-American architectural photographer and curator, took of Adler & Sullivan buildings from the 1880s and early 1990s. These images date from the 1960s and 1970s, when many of these architectural treasures have been demolished, and they provide invaluable documentation of these lost structures.
Sept. 17-Jan. 16, 2023, “Bridget Riley Drawings: From the Artist’s Studio,” Art Institute of Chicago (artic.edu). After working in several previous styles, Riley became part of the 1960s op-art movement with her disorienting geometric abstractions. The London-born artist then fell largely out of sight, but came back strong with a revival sparked in part by a 2000-01 solo exhibition at New York’s Dia Center for the Arts (now Dia Chelsea). This exhibition is presented as the first and most comprehensive look at his drawings in over half a century.
September-June 20, 2023, “Nostalgia for my island: painting from the Museo de Arte de Ponce, 1786-1962”, National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, 3015 W. Division (nmprac.org). As repairs to Puerto Rico’s Museo de Arte de Ponce continue following damage from Hurricane Maria five years ago and a subsequent earthquake, the institution is sending for the first-ever times the highlights of his collection on tour off the island. Spanning nearly two centuries, this exhibit features 21 works by such important Puerto Rican artists as Myrna Báez José Campeche, Francisco Oller, and Miguel Pou.
Sept. 22-Dec. 4, “Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s-1980s”, Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University, 40 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston (blockmuseum.northwestern.edu). Mention abstraction in the United States, and the visions of Richard Diebenkorn, Jackson Pollock and Clyfford Still immediately come to mind. But this artistic approach was hardly limited to this country. This traveling exhibition, curated by New York University’s Gray Art Gallery, offers a look at abstraction in an unexpected part of the world and examines what the organizers describe as its broader cultural, intellectual and spiritual connotations.
Sept. 22-Jan. 8, 2023, “Monochrome multitudes”, Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, 5550 S. Greenwood (smartmuseum.uchicago.edu). Works of art made with a single color were an essential part of mid-20th century modernism. Think Ad Reinhardt or Yves Klein. But this exhibition takes a much broader look geographically, chronologically and culturally at this ongoing artistic process, with more than 100 works, including examples by artists such as Theaster Gates, Carmen Herrera and Yayoi Kusama.
Oct. 1-Dec. 17, “The first homosexuals: global representations of a new identity, 1869-1930”, Wrightwood 659, 659 W. Wrightwood (wrightwood659.org). The presence of gays and lesbians is so common today in television, movies and books that most people probably don’t give it much thought. But that was anything but the case a century or more ago. This groundbreaking exhibition examines what organizers call the “earliest consciously queer art”, with 100 paintings, drawings, prints, photographs and film clips dating back to 1869, when the word “homosexual” was coined in Europe. .
November 19-April 23, 2023, “Forecast Form: Art in the Caribbean Diaspora, 1990s to Today”, Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago (mcachicago.org). This large-scale exhibition, the first presented at the MCA in English and Spanish, proposes to rethink Caribbean art, focusing on 37 artists from the region who work across the Americas and Europe. According to press materials, the show seeks to reveal the Caribbean as a “place not defined by geography, language or ethnicity but by constant exchange, travel and movement”.