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July 25, 2009

Constellations: Paintings from the MCA Collection

Jul 25–Oct 18, 2009

Arranged in a series of constellations, or groupings, this exhibition explores various approaches to painting from the 1940s to the present, and how they communicate ideas about life and art.

All of the works in this exhibition are united by the use of paint, a brush, and a support to emphasize the complex and varied manner in which artists use similar materials. This exhibition does not seek to redefine what can be considered a painting, but rather examines how it endures as a vibrant art form, more than 100 years after it was proclaimed “dead” at the advent of photography. Clearly there is no correct way, which is why painting continues to be a source of stimulating conversation and debate. From the perspective of the artist and viewer, painting is a subjective experience.

The exhibition explores questions about the current state and future of painting by creating a dialogue with works from the past. The conversations within each section stimulate ideas about painting that are not limited to chronology or specific art historical narratives, but follow lines of thought. Within the exhibition, the constellations aim to make connections through the various interests, positions, styles, and histories that artists address within their approach to painting. For example, Constellations explores approaches to the landscape and figure, so-called “bad” painting, appropriation, collage in painting, the critique of illusion in painting, form and color, and paintings that exist in between representation and abstraction.

Augmented by major works from important private collections the exhibition highlights, for the first time, the MCA collection’s particular strengths in this medium. Constellations features work by approximately 75 of the most important artists of the last 60 years, including Josef Albers, Francis Bacon, Chuck Close, Jean Dubuffet, Caroll Dunham, Jasper Johns, Sherrie Levine, Rene Magritte, Brice Marden, Roberto Matta, Rebecca Morris, Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Laura Owens, Lari Pittman, Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter, Clare Rojas, Thomas Scheibitz, Rudolf Stingel, Yves Tanguy, and Andy Warhol, among others. Featured Chicago artists include Michelle Grabner, Kerry James Marshall, Wesley Kimler, Vera Klement, Marie Krane, Judy Ledgerwood, Angel Otero, and Scott Reeder.

This exhibition is organized by Julie Rodrigues Widholm, Pamela Alper Associate Curator.