Craig Tandy: Tangible Light

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Tandy Dennos 3. Reflection II

As a child, Craig Tandy was keenly observant of instances where light seemed to become tangible, as when the thick cigarette smoke in movie theaters made palpable the ethereal shafts of light streaming from the projector, or when a focused beam of sunlight managed to break through a hole in a cloud.  Since then, Tandy has produced an impressively vast and varied body of Constructivist-inspired sculpture, and much of his work takes its direct inspiration from the physics and properties of light.  His Projection sculptures currently on view in the spacious atrium of the Dennos Museum in Traverse City, Michigan, are a stately series of nylon monofilament sculptures which evoke reflected light through Tandy’s calculated application of geometry and physics.  Continue reading

Backstroke of the West

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Installation view, Michael Rakowitz: Backstroke of the West, MCA Chicago September 16, 2017—March 4, 2018 The invisible enemy should not exist, (2007–ongoing) Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

In 1995, Uday Hussein, the son of Saddam Hussein, established the Fedayeen Saddam, a notorious paramilitary force.  As a devoted fan of the Star Wars trilogy, Uday issued an exact replica of Darth Vader’s helmet as part of the Fedayeen’s official uniform—a bizarre and unsettling instance of life mimicking art.  At Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, a Fedayeen helmet sits alongside a Darth Vader helmet as part of Chicago-based conceptual artist Michael Rakowitz’s mid-career retrospective, a show which calls attention to politically charged and revealing instances of cross-cultural exchanges between East and West.     Continue reading

Fired Up

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Installation shot, courtesy of the Toledo Museum of Art

The Toledo Museum of Art is ground zero for the Studio Glass Movement of the 1960s, which had modest beginnings in a garage on the TMA’s campus.  Although women were integral to the movement, their work originally attracted less attention than that of their male counterparts.  In recent years, this is no longer the case, and the Toledo Art Museum’s exhibition Fired Up is a celebration of the robust international presence of female glassblowers.   Fifty works comprise this exhibition, the first in America to shine the spotlight on glass art by contemporary female glass artists.  The show isn’t bound by any particular theme, but all the works on view are emphatically aesthetic objects, entirely nonfunctional, and playfully push the boundaries of the medium beyond what many of us are likely used to seeing, revealing the surprising and perhaps under-appreciated versatility of glass.  Continue reading

Rodin at the Met: A Century of the Sublime

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Auguste Rodin (French, Paris 1840–1917 Meudon) The Thinker Founder: Cast by Alexis Rudier (French) Modeled ca. 1880, cast ca. 1910 Bronze Overall (wt. confirmed): 27 5/8 in., 185 lb. (70.2 cm, 83.9 kg) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Thomas F. Ryan, 1910

In 1877 at the Paris Salon, Rodin’s Age of Bronze was considered so lifelike that skeptical artists and viewers alike circulated the defamatory rumor that Rodin had simply submitted a bronze made directly from a cast of his model, and the sculpture was ignominiously removed from the show.  After the artist subsequently furnished proof that he had indeed modeled the sculpture by hand, it was displayed again the following year, and the work, originally titled The Vanquished, became Rodin’s breakout triumph.  Continue reading

Amanda Williams: Chicago Works

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Installation view, Chicago Works: Amanda Williams, MCA Chicago. July 18 – December 31, 2017. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

Artist and architect Amanda Williams likely never expected her public art project Color(ed) Theory, for which she surreptitiously painted the exteriors of condemned houses in largely vacant Chicago neighborhoods, to garner significant attention.  But in 2015, the Chicago Architectural Biennial highlighted the ongoing project, suddenly giving it a platform with international reach.   In her first solo exhibition, Color(ed) Theory is featured alongside other recent multimedia works by Williams at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Continue reading

The Octopus Eats its Own Leg

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Takashi Murakami, Photo: Maria Ponce Berre, © MCA Chicago

According to Japanese folklore, a distressed octopus can chew off an injured leg and a new one will grow in its place.  Regeneration and re-invention are certainly subtexts at Takashi Murakami’s mid-career retrospective at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, but this sprawling exhibition also shows that while his work has certainly changed in form and focus, Murakami’s body of work, for all its emphatically contemporary, anime-inspired appearance, is, perhaps surprisingly, conscientiously rooted in hundreds of years of traditional Japanese visual culture.   Continue reading

Public Space & Old Tires

Photo credit: City of Chicago

Few cities do public art as well as Chicago.  Place the point of a giant compass at the intersection of State and Madison, and a circle with a radius of about 1,000 yards will encompass works by Calder, Picasso, Dubuffet, Chagall, Miro, Richard Hunt, Jaume Plensa and Anish Kapoor. Through April 2018, a public installation of sculptures by artist Chakaia Booker fills the Boeing Gallery, a comfortably shaded outdoor promenade that runs the length of Chicago’s Millennium Park.  These seven steel and rubber sculptures manage to remain lighthearted and invitingly interactive, though much of Chakaia Booker’s oeuvre is freighted with poignant allusions to race, class, and social mobility.     Continue reading