Jan 26th 2019

“The most comprehensive treatment of the topic to date… The book conspicuously lacks timelines and keywords, avoiding the encyclopaedic approach of past efforts. At the heart of this new history is instead a compelling story about how artistic identity is formed in the shadows. . . . All of these topics are deeply covered in the book’s excellent essays.” — Art Newspaper

Coeditors Maggie Taft and Robert Cozzolino discuss “Art in Chicago: A History from the Fire to Now”. They will be joined in conversation by Wendy Greenhouse. A Q&A and signing will follow the discussion.

At the Co-op

About the book: “Art in Chicago” is a magisterial account of the long history of Chicago art, from the rupture of the Great Fire in 1871 to the present, Manierre Dawson, László Moholy-Nagy, and Ivan Albright to Chris Ware, Anne Wilson, and Theaster Gates. The first single-volume history of art and artists in Chicago, the book—in recognition of the complexity of the story it tells—doesn’t follow a single continuous trajectory. Rather, it presents an overlapping sequence of interrelated narratives that together tell a full and nuanced, yet wholly accessible history of visual art in the city. From the temptingly blank canvas left by the Fire, we loop back to the 1830s and on up through the 1860s, tracing the beginnings of the city’s institutional and professional art world and community. From there, we travel in chronological order through the decades to the present. Familiar developments—such as the founding of the Art Institute, the Armory Show, and the arrival of the Bauhaus—are given a fresh look, while less well-known aspects of the story, like the contributions of African American artists dating back to the 1860s or the long history of activist art, finally get suitable recognition. The six chapters, each written by an expert in the period, brilliantly mix narrative and image, weaving in oral histories from artists and critics reflecting on their work in the city, and setting new movements and key works in historical context. The final chapter, comprised of interviews and conversations with contemporary artists, brings the story up to the present, offering a look at the vibrant art being created in the city now and addressing ongoing debates about what it means to identify as—or resist identifying as—a Chicago artist today. The result is an unprecedentedly inclusive and rich tapestry, one that reveals Chicago art in all its variety and vigor—and one that will surprise and enlighten even the most dedicated fan of the city’s artistic heritage.

About Maggie Taft: Maggie Taft is an independent scholar and founding director of the Haddon Avenue Writing Institute, a community-based writing center for teenage girls. Before establishing the Institute, she earned a PhD in art history from the University of Chicago, where her dissertation “Making Danish Modern, 1945–1960” received the 2015 Dean’s Distinguished Dissertation Award in the Humanities. From 2014–16 she served as Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Modeling Interdisciplinary Inquiry at Washington University in St. Louis. Taft’s writing and reviews have appeared in many magazines and journals including Artforum, The Point, Texte Zur Kunste, Design and Culture, and The Journal of Design History. She is coeditor of “Art in Chicago: From the Fire to Now” (University of Chicago Press, 2018), the first single volume history of art in Chicago from the nineteenth century through the present day. Her book, The Chieftain and the Chair: Danish Design in Postwar America is under contract with the University of Chicago Press.

About Robert Cozzolino: Robert Cozzolino is Patrick and Aimee Butler Curator of Paintings at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. He has been called the “curator of the dispossessed” for championing underrepresented artists and uncommon perspectives on well-known artists. At the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia (2004-16) he oversaw more than 30 exhibitions, including retrospectives of George Tooker and Peter Blume, the largest American museum exhibition of David Lynch’s visual art, plus thematic exhibitions such as “World War I and American Art.” He is co-editor of and contributor to “Art in Chicago: A History from the Fire to Now” (University of Chicago Press, 2018) and is curating a major survey of the paranormal in American art from the Salem Witch Trials to U.F.O.s.

About Wendy Greenhouse: Wendy Greenhouse is an independent art historian who has written extensively on Chicago’s historical artists and art. At the Chicago History Museum, where she served as curator of paintings and sculpture, she curated the first retrospective exhibition on Archibald J. Motley Jr. In addition to Chapter 1 of “Art in Chicago: A History From the Fire to Now”, Greenhouse’s many publications include the co-authored “Chicago Painting 1895 to 1945: The Bridges Collection” (Illinois State Museum); “Union League Club of Chicago Art Collection”; “Chicago Modern, 1893-1945: Pursuit of the New” (Terra Museum of American Art); and “Art of Illinois”, catalogue for the exhibition currently at the Illinois Governor’s Mansion in Springfield. Greenhouse earned her PhD in the history of art at Yale.

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