The Chicago Imagists—whose fanciful, surreal and dreamlike works make up the core of the Elmhurst College Art Collection—are receiving new recognition at home and abroad.
“This is major recognition and very exciting,” Rocca said. “And I get to be involved, both as an artist and curator.”
Rocca will travel to Milan for the opening of the Fondazione Prada show, which the museum said is “focused on the employment of a painting style characterized by political commitment, figurative narratives and radical graphics, and therefore rejected by mainstream New York culture–which was more interested in the abstract and impersonal dimensions of art.”
For the show, Elmhurst loaned the museum three of its most important works: “Cobmaster” by Ed Paschke (1975), “Glimpsed” by Christina Ramberg (1975) and “See Seven Cities” by Roger Brown (1971).
A Fresh Local Exploration in 2018
Rocca learned in June that she would receive an $18,445 grant from the Terra Foundation and Richard H. Driehaus Foundation to support her symposium, “The Figure, Humor and the Chicago Imagists” scheduled for Dec. 16, 2018, at the College. It will explore works by the Chicago Imagists, specifically how they used humor in depicting the human figure. The day will include a presentation by New York art critic and editor Dan Nadel and a tour of the collection at the A.C. Buehler Library.
The symposium will complement the Art Institute’s special exhibit on the Hairy Who—Rocca and five other artists—who exhibited together between 1966 and 1969. The Art Institute focused this exhibit on the Hairy Who because their contributions aren’t fully examined, according to exhibition curator Mark Pascale.
The six members of the Hairy Who studied together at the School of the Art Institute and coined the name in 1966. They were followed by other Chicago artists who exhibited together: “They were all lumped together as Imagists, and the name stuck,” Pascale said. Hairy Who members staked out their own identities in paintings that were at times whimsical, biting, outrageous, cerebral or sophomoric, he added.
A challenge for this exhibit is finding works that were exhibited at Hairy Who shows in Hyde Park, San Francisco, New York and Washington, D.C., during the late 1960s. Art Institute researcher and exhibit co-organizer Thea Liberty Nichols is charged with tracking down the works dispersed among private collectors, galleries and museums. The Art Institute hopes to procure 100 artworks for the exhibit, which will run between September 1, 2018, and January 6, 2019.
Elmhurst College’s “The Figure, Humor and the Chicago Imagists” symposium and the Art Institute of Chicago’s exhibit are part of Art Design Chicago, an exploration of Chicago’s art and design legacy, an initiative of the Terra Foundation for American Art with presenting partner The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.