In conjunction with Monochrome Multitudes, the Smart Museum of Art and University of Chicago partners present a quarter-long artist talk series.
Join Sheila Hicks and other exhibiting artists as they consider the rich and sometimes idiosyncratic references and resonances in their own work, while also speaking to the histories of the monochrome and abstraction broadly conceived.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Sheila Hicks received her BFA and MFA degrees from Yale University. She received a Fulbright scholarship in 1957–58 to paint and take photographs of archaeological sites in Chile. While in South America she developed her interest in working with fibers. After founding workshops in Mexico, Chile, and South Africa, and working in Morocco and India, she now divides her time between New York and Paris, where she studied Pre-Columbian textiles. In each place, she has mined local knowledge to inform work that transcends geographic boundaries. Her diverse approach to textiles put her at the center of the burgeoning Fiber Art movement of the 1960s and ’70s, in which artists were inventing new possibilities for pliable media. They created sculptural and three-dimensional fiber works that upended conventions, establishing a new order in the largely male-dominated arena of two-dimensional tapestry-making. Hicks continues employing intensely saturated color and the raw materials of textiles—wool, synthetic thread, linen flax—in works that are rigorously constructed by wrapping, piling, and weaving her materials. Hicks has exhibited in the 2017 Venice Biennale, the 2014 Whitney Biennial, and the 2012 São Paulo Biennial. Recent solo presentations include “Lignes de Vie” at the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 2018; Free Threads 1954-2017, Museo Amparo, Mexico; and “Pêcher dans La Rivière” at the Alison Jacques Gallery, London. Hicks will be represented in Monochrome Multitudes with a 1984 work she gifted to the Smart Museum, Evolving Tapestry.
This exhibition traces “the monochrome” as a fundamental if surprisingly expansive artistic practice. Revisiting classic modernist ideas about flatness, idealized form, and colors, Monochrome Multitudes opens up this seemingly reductive art to reveal its global resonance and creative possibilities while working toward a more expansive narrative of 20th and 21st century art.
Within the exhibition, art is presented in monochromatic groupings—rooms of blue, white, yellow, gray, black, and red works respectively—alternating with thematic sections where single colors engage concerns with the body, urban space, sound, and other topics. Switching between these two types of spaces, the exhibition suggests that works that look alike are often quite different, and that works that look different can share historical, thematic, or conceptual propositions. Throughout, Monochrome Multitudes engages North American art in a global dialogue and emphasizes the significance of multiple media ranging from weaving to wall-painting to video, and multiple materials including footballs, pantyhose, and Vinylite.
Monochrome Multitudes features works by Magdalena Abakanowicz, Mary Abbott, Josef Albers, Alphonse Allais, Lynda Benglis, Ernő Berda, Mark Bradford, Alexander Calder, Enrico Castellani, Alan Cohen, Bethany Collins, Barbara Crane, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Jaime Davidovich, Walter De Maria, José de Rivera, Roy DeCarava, Beauford Delaney, Laddie John Dill, Charles and Ray Eames, Lucio Fontana, Helen Frankenthaler, Theaster Gates, Frank Gehry, Felix Gonzales-Torres, Wade Guyton, Irena Haiduk, David Hartt, Arturo Herrera, Carmen Herrera, Sheila Hicks, Jörg Immendorff, Lotte Jacobi, Derek Jarman, Rashid Johnson, Jennie C. Jones, Samuel Levi Jones, Ellsworth Kelly, Byron Kim, Lyman Kipp, Yves Klein, Yayoi Kusama, Tadaaki Kuwayama, Kwon Young-woo, Lee Ufan, Marilyn Lenkowsky, Ma Qiusha, Sally Mann, Allan McCollum, Manfred Mohr, Linda Montano, Mun Pyung, Louise Nevelson, Barnett Newman, Jules Olitski, Palermo, Palermo & Gerhard Richter, Dan Peterman, Francis Picabia, John Plumb, Avery Preesman, Tobias Rehberger, Ad Reinhardt, Dorothea Rockburne, Ugo Rondinone, Robert Ryman, Fred Sandback, Joe Scanlan, David Schutter, Richard Serra, F.N. Souza, Ted Stamm, Jessica Stockholder, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Hiroyuki Tajima, Tony Tasset, Anne Truitt, Naama Tsabar, William Turnbull, James Turrell, Raoul Ubac, Günther Uecker, Günter Umberg, Wolf Vostell, H. C. Westermann, Amanda Williams, Karl Wirsum, Haegue Yang, Yang Jiechang, and Claire Zeisler.
Monochrome Multitudes is part of the Smart Museum’s ongoing “Expanding Narratives” series that mobilizes collection installations to reevaluate canonic histories and curatorial strategies. The majority of the approximately 120 works on display are drawn from the Smart Museum’s collection. They are supplemented by a number of loans from UChicago alumni, Chicago-area collections, and beyond.
Image: Claire Zeisler, Triptych, 1967, Knotted and tied dyed wool. Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Joel Starrels, Sr., 1973.213a-c.