Figures in Chicago Imagism, installation at Krannert Art Museum, 2010.
On View
Aug 26, 2010–Jan 9, 2011
Main Level, Gelvin Noel Gallery

While post-World War II artists in New York explored their inner creative processes through abstract expressionism, many artists in Chicago generated figurative works focused on issues created by the war. The Monster Roster, a group of Chicago artists that included Leon Golub, Theodore Halkin, and June Leaf, created intense works that illustrated their existential explorations through figuration. These artists, along with Don Baum, Peter Saul, and H. C. Westermann, influenced a younger generation of Chicago artists with their complete dedication to craft and craftsmanship, as well as with their witty sense of humor.

Sponsored by Illinois Arts Council, a State Agency; Krannert Art Museum Director's Circle; and Krannert Art Museum Council.

Many of these younger artists, such as Jim Nutt, Ed Paschke, and Karl Wirsum, were students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the late 1960s. Group names emerged from organized exhibitions—The Hairy Who, Non-Plussed Some, and False Image—but collectively the artists were categorized as Chicago Imagists and known for quirky, humorous, and highly sexualized works that investigated what images are and how they function within different contexts. Though each artist possesses a highly unique style, all share formal commonalities and influences while working in a variety of media. 

This selection of paintings, works on paper, and sculptures from the museum’s permanent collection aims to broaden the scope of Chicago Imagism by including not only artists commonly exhibited as such, but also those who were influential in the creation of the school. 

Curator: Kathryn Koca Polite, Curatorial Assistant 

Kathryn Koca Polite joined KAM as a curatorial assistant while finishing her Masters in Art History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has curated numerous collection-based exhibitions including Polaroids and Portraits: A Photographic Legacy of Andy Warhol (2009), The Rise of Abstraction in Post-War Japan: Sosaku Hanga Woodblock Prints (2008), Intersections: Art in Postwar New York(2010), and Turn of the Century Posters: Toulouse-Lautrec and Others(2010).