WTTW’s Chicago Tonight explores the works of Chicago Imagist and Abstractionist artists on permanent display at the A.C. Buehler Library.
At the heart of the Elmhurst College Art Collection is an extraordinary collection of works by Chicago Imagist and Abstractionist artists.
Focusing on artists working in Chicago between about 1950 and the present, the collection displays a broad range of artistic ideas and inﬂuences. From Ed Paschke’s psychedelic colors to Roger Brown’s dreamlike silhouettes, the collection represents what art critic James Yood called “the best single overview of art from 1966 to 1985 in any public institution.”
Elmhurst’s collection dates to 1971, when the College received federal funding to purchase art for the newly built A.C. Buehler Library. With the goal of buying art that had a particular meaning, the College focused its collecting on the works of a group of emerging and affordable Chicago artists—a group that would later be known as the Chicago Imagists. The ﬁrst 10 pieces included Jim Nutt’s Toot Toot Woo Woo, Roger Brown’s Performance, Christina Ramberg’s Glimpsed, and Miyoko Ito’s Chinoiserie.
Over the years, the College has added many more works to the collection, thanks to matching grants from the Illinois Arts Council, gifts from artists, and generous donors. Today, the College’s professional collection comprises more than 120 works of art, including many important works by major Imagists and Abstractionists.
Numerous pieces in the collection have traveled to retro- spective and thematic exhibitions at major museums throughout the United States and Europe. Jim Nutt’s Toot Toot Woo Woo, for example, represented the United States at the 1972 Venice Biennale in Italy and has since served as a pivotal piece in many more exhibitions. “There’s rarely a retrospective of the so-called Imagist artists that doesn’t include Elmhurst,” said the art critic James Yood.
The Elmhurst Art Collection is housed in the A.C. Buehler Library on the Elmhurst campus, where it inspires and enriches the College community, the Chicago arts community and the general public. The exhibit is open free of charge during regular library hours. For questions or additional information, contact the Library at (630) 617-3173.