Sep 8th 2018

Elmhurst Art Museum presents “The Figure and the Chicago Imagists”
Original ‘Hairy Who’ artist Suellen Rocca curates highlights of
internationally recognized Elmhurst College Art Collection, opening September 8

(August 2018) The Elmhurst Art Museum will host “The Figure and the Chicago Imagists: Selections from the Elmhurst College Art Collection,” curated by Suellen Rocca, one of the original members of the ‘Hairy Who’ collective and current Curator and Director of Exhibitions at Elmhurst College. “The Figure and the Chicago Imagists” opens Saturday, September 8, 2018, and will be on view through January 13, 2019.

Over and over, the Chicago Imagists cast the figure in numerous roles, distorting it and layering it with metaphor and personal meaning. Outrageous, irreverent, humorous and inspired by popular culture, these works reflect highly original expressions of the human form. “The Figure and the Chicago Imagists” features nearly 30 works from the Elmhurst College Art Collection, focused on artists working in Chicago between about 1950 and the present. Predominantly featuring works on paper, among the artists to be represented are Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Ed Paschke, Christina Ramberg, Barbara Rossi, Karl Wirsum. Numerous pieces in the collection have traveled to retrospective and thematic exhibitions at major museums throughout the United States and Europe. For example, Paschke’s Cobmaster was recently shown in Milan at Fondazione Prada in the exhibit Famous Artists from Chicago: 1965-75.

“Rocca and the others are an integral part of Chicagoland’s history that has influenced generations of artists,” said Elmhurst Art Museum Executive Director John McKinnon. “The groundbreaking work of Rocca and the other artists from the Hairy Who will be further canonized in a comprehensive show at the Art Institute of Chicago also opening this fall.”

In the 1960s, Rocca and five other artists formed the groundbreaking group, the Hairy Who, known for their powerfully graphic images and brazen sense of humor. This visionary group (comprised of Rocca, Jim Falconer, Art Green, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, and Karl Wirsum) forged the way with others that later became known as the Chicago Imagists. Since 2006, Rocca has been the Curator and Director of Exhibitions, overseeing the College’s collection of Chicago Imagist artwork. As caretaker, advocate, and interpreter of the collection, Rocca has increased awareness of its importance locally, nationally and internationally. The Elmhurst Art Museum recently recognized Suellen Rocca for her outstanding service as an artist, curator, and educator in the western suburbs.

The Figure, Humor and the Chicago Imagists is funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art, and free with registration required. The symposium begins at Illinois Hall at Elmhurst College and later continues at the Elmhurst Art Museum. The program is free with registration required.

About Elmhurst Art Museum
Elmhurst Art Museum is located at 150 Cottage Hill Avenue in Elmhurst (IL), 25 minutes from downtown Chicago by car or public transportation (Metra). The Museum is both an international destination for Mies van der Rohe scholars and fans and a regional center where people from Chicago and the western suburbs learn to see and think differently through the study of the art, architecture and design of our time.

The Museum is one block from the Elmhurst Metra station and open Tuesday-Sunday from
11am -5pm. Admission is $12 ($10 for seniors) and free for students and children under 18. For more information, please call 630.834.0202 or visit


Image: Gladys Nilsson, In Vertical Shade, 1984, Watercolor on paper, 59 x 40 inches, Elmhurst College Art Collection

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