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The best things to do in Chicago this month,
selected by our culture criticsDecember 2015

Art and Design
Museums and Institutions

ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO

 

Opens 12/13 The New Contemporary. The largest donation of artwork ever to the museum includes 44 masterpieces of modern art, with iconic pieces by Jeff Koons, Jasper Johns, and Andy Warhol.

 

Through 1/3 Making Place: The Architecture of David Adjaye. A front-runner to design the Obama library, the Tanzanian-born British architect imbues his work with a distinctive “Afropolitan” point of view. This sprawling midcareer survey offers visitors a look at his renderings, photographs, and art deco–influenced furniture.

Through 1/10 Deana Lawson: Ruttenberg Contemporary Photography Series. The Brooklyn-based photographer poses her subjects, who are often nude and black, in domestic settings from New York to the Congo.

 

Through 2/14 Homegrown. See works on paper by distinguished alumni of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s printmaking and drawing programs, including magical realist painter Ivan Albright, graphic novelist Chris Ware, Chicago imagists the Hairy Who, and dozens more.

Through 2/14 Kesa: Japanese Buddhist Monks’ Vestments. Kesa (exquisitely patterned robes worn by Japanese monks) from the museum’s textile collection are on view together for the first time.
111 S. Michigan. artic.edu

CENTER FOR BOOK AND PAPER ARTS

Through 12/11 Faith and the Devil. Lesley Dill, the Brooklyn artist noted for blending fashion, typography, and installation, debuts an eight-foot dress printed with a paradox: How can we maintain faith in humanity when so much evil reigns? The message isn’t all bleak; using dramatic text on the walls, Dill considers refuge and forgiveness, too. 1104 S. Wabash. colum.edu

DEPAUL ART MUSEUM

Through 12/20 Idol Structures. Photographer Matt Siber turns his camera to what he calls “advertising architecture,” the tall freestanding sign structures that, when photographed from certain angles, take on the appearance of totemic sculpture. 935 W. Fullerton. museums.depaul.edu

ELMHURST ART MUSEUM

12/12–2/21 Elmhurst Art Museum Biennial: Chicago Statements. The museum stages the region’s first biennial, featuring emerging artists who comment on the cultural climate of Chicago. They include Lise Haller Baggesen, whose interactive installation, Mothernism, looks at the role of artists who are mothers. 150 S. Cottage Hill, Elmhurst. elmhurstartmuseum.org

‘Photogenic Painting, Untitled 75/21’ by Barbara Kasten
Photogenic Painting, Untitled 75/21, 1975 by Barbara Kasten Photo: Courtesy of the Graham Foundation

GRAHAM FOUNDATION

Through 1/9 Barbara Kasten: Stages. Prismatic, abstract, and beautifully staged, the latest work by this Chicago photographer recalls such modernist masters as Calder and Miró. 4 W. Burton Pl. grahamfoundation.org

HYDE PARK ART CENTER

Through 1/10 Timekeeper. Daniel Bruttig manipulates real cuckoo clocks into sculptural abstract paintings.
Through 1/24 Onyx Odyssey. A near 10-year survey of the work of the West Loop performance artist Jefferson Pinder.
5020 S. Cornell. hydeparkart.org

INTUIT

Through 1/3 Mad as Hell: The Collages of Richard Saholt. Abused as a child and diagnosed with schizophrenia as well as posttraumatic stress disorder from World War II, Saholt died last year, leaving behind a large body of therapeutic art. 756 N. Milwaukee. art.org

LOGAN CENTER FOR THE ARTS

Through 1/10 So-Called Utopias. The gallery’s newest curator, Yesomi Umolu, makes a statement about globalization and its sometimes devastating effects on migrants and colonizers. The group exhibition draws from areas such as the Amazon and Bangalore to show art as a form of survival. 915 E. 60th. arts.uchicago.edu

MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART

12/19–3/27 Pop Art Design. The pop art movement of the ’60s also flourished in the field of industrial design, giving an ironic, colorful slant to furniture, lamps, and architecture. See work by some of that era’s most forward-thinking designers, such as Charles Eames and Ettore Sottsass.

Through 1/31 BMO Harris Bank Chicago Works: Ania Jaworska. The Polish-born architect and designer creates kooky sculptures that play with traditional structures such as arches and obelisks.

Through 3/6 MCA DNA: Rafael Ferrer. The Puerto Rican surrealist, who first exhibited at the museum in 1972, tackles topics of colonialism and magic, using pipe cleaners, bones, and portrait painting.

Through 5/8 Kathryn Andrews: Run for President. Perfectly timed with the presidential election cycle, the Los Angeles pop sculptor’s first U.S. museum solo exhibition comments on its celebrity aspect.

 

Through 6/5 Surrealism: The Conjured Life. Few people realize how strongly French surrealism took hold in Chicago—it’s a cornerstone of the MCA’s collection, and it influenced the 1960s-era Hairy Who artists. With more than 100 paintings and objects, this exhibit tells the story of surrealism’s roots, with masterworks by Magritte and Ernst, and its legacy in contemporary art, from Paschke to Koons.
220 E. Chicago. mcachicago.org

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF MEXICAN ART

Through 12/13 La Muerte Niña: Day of the Dead. This annual exhibition is the largest of its kind in the United States, with a community festival and newly commissioned skull art from local artists. Folk art and 13 ofrendas (artistic altars) honor deceased artists and missing children. 1852 W. 19th. nationalmuseumofmexicanart.org

RENAISSANCE SOCIETY

Through 1/24 Paul McCarthy: Drawings. The bad-boy artist often explores the humorous and sometimes psychotic side of sexuality, but this exhibit of rarely seen drawings gives insight into his process, with architectural renderings and sketches from the last seven years. 5811 S. Ellis. renaissancesociety.org

 

SMART MUSEUM OF ART

Through 1/10 Expressionist Impulses: German and Central European Art, 1890–1990. Deemed “degenerate” by Hitler and censored, German expressionism has since become known as one of the 20th century’s most freeing art movements. This show considers some of Germany’s masters: Kandinsky, Kollwitz, Schwitters. 5550 S. Greenwood. smartmuseum.uchicago.edu

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