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PRINT September 1978

Chicago’s Emotional Realists

THE STRENGTH AND CONVICTION of Funk is its peculiar seductiveness, its capacity to excite while at the same time repelling us. Such art flatters and then violates us. No doubt a society like today’s that offends, then deadens, our sensitivity to each other, deserves a punch in the gut. And no doubt Chicago Funk is obsessive—about sex, aggression, physical and psychological pain and whatever ecstasy may be gained through their transcendence. But where obsession in reality can trap us in evasions, in Funk it expresses the voyeurism and brutality we fastidiously hide within ourselves.

Funk’s lumpy, varicose limbs, droopy, deformed breasts and gargantuan genitals in sadistic fantasies and sexist fixations take us beyond supposed vulgarity to matters of humanity and inhumanity. Despite a critical shunning of Funk’s significance, except as a regional oddity, such work can be placed in the broader

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