October 3, 2013 – January 12, 2014 In the late 1960s and early 1970s, when the Imagists exhibited in Chicago and abstract painting held sway in New York, a distinct strain of avant-garde and conceptual art emerged in California. The state was an incubator of social change and counter-culture that attracted artists seeking alternatives to traditional modes of art making.
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February 13 – June 15, 2014 During the Qing dynasty (1644–1911), Chinese passion for opera and theater permeated the visual and material world of everyday life. Opera was at the heart of Chinese social life, from the village to the court, and the spectacle of theater was found not only on the stage—in costumes, props, and face painting—but also across the full spectrum of Chinese visual culture, from scroll paintings to popular prints.
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September 3 – December 8, 2013 Wings are prevalent in a wide range of Renaissance representations, from figures (angels, winged cherubs, and mythological gods) to animals (eagles, griffins, and winged horses). The multiple iconographies of wings during this period drew on allegorical, cosmological, and religious symbols inherited from both Christian and ancient Near Eastern mythologies. Drawing on the Smart Museum’s permanent collection, with selected loans from the University of Chicago’s Library and the Oriental Institute, this intimate exhibition examines the Renaissance fascination with wings as symbols of speed and power through the influential histories of flight derived from the bird cult of Horus in ancient Egypt to the circulation of winged creatures in prints by Albrecht Dürer and others.
December 17, 2013 – March 16, 2014 This exhibition will trace the relationship between the emerging generation of avant-garde movements in 1950s France and the surrealist movement, re-established in Paris after the war. The social milieu of the Left Bank offered rich material for artists to map social and psychological experience by tracing quotidian itineraries and social interactions.
March 25 – June 15, 2014 For centuries, depicting the body has been essential to practitioners of art as well as medicine. Drawing the human form is a fundamental component of art pedagogy, while medical doctors have long relied on anatomical illustrations to understand what goes on inside the body.
May 7 – August 25, 2013 The achievement of Franco-Russian painter Serge Charchoune (1889–1975) is among the least widely known or understood in twentieth-century European art. Sometimes seen as a minor practitioner of major modernist styles—Dada, Cubism, Purism, informal abstraction—Charchoune in fact operated quite independently within and beyond those tendencies.
September 17, 2015 – January 17, 2016 The group postwar artists nicknamed the Monster Roster established the first unique Chicago style. Spearheaded by Leon Golub, the group created deeply psychological works that drew on classical mythology, ancient art, and a shared interest in what one critic has called “the figure under stress.” Indeed, the fiercely independent Monster Roster artists persisted in depicting the figure during a period in which abstraction held sway in international art circles.
Tracing a chronological arc of almost a century, this exhibition showcases both familiar and lesser-known works from the Smart Museum’s collection of American art. It presents approximately eighty works—paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, and photographs—by American artists, while exploring national context and changes in art between 1850 and 1940.