This exhibition explores various approaches to painting and how it communicates ideas about life and art from the 1940s to the present. Arranged in a series of constellations, or groupings, the exhibition highlights for the first time the MCA Collection's particular strengths in this medium. Augmented by major works from important private collections to fill gaps in the MCA Collection and to provide examples of recent works made during the last few years, the exhibition includes work by approximately 75 of the most important artists of the last sixty years including Chuck Close, Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter, Jasper Johns, Lari Pittman, Rudolf Stingel, Clare Rojas, Laura Owens, Josef Albers, Rene Magritte, Francis Bacon, Brice Marden, Caroll Dunham, Thomas Scheibitz, Jean Dubuffet, Sherrie Levine, Jules Olitski, Kenneth Noland, Sigmar Polke, Rebecca Morris, Roberto Matta, and Yves Tanguy, among others. Featured Chicago artists include Angel Otero, Wesley Kimler, Kerry James Marshall, Judy Ledgerwood, Scott Reeder, Michelle Grabner, Marie Krane Bergman, and Vera Klement.
This exhibition explores questions about the current state and future of painting by creating a dialogue with works from the past. These 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 and collage in painting, the critique of illusion in painting, form and color, and paintings that exist in-between representation and abstraction.
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.
This exhibition is organized by Julie Rodrigues Widholm, Pamela Alper Associate Curator.