previews

  • Jim Nutt, Drawing for Wiggly Woman, 1966, graphite, colored pencil, ink on paper, 12 1/2 x 9 5/8"

    Jim Nutt: Coming into Character

    Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA Chicago)
    220 East Chicago Avenue
    January 29–May 29

    Curated by Lynne Warren

    Jim Nutt has been making small, hard, delicate paintings of female heads for the past twenty years. Lynne Warren’s exhibition traces the heads’ development back through the decades to Nutt’s more familiar works of the 1960s, depicting characters such as Wiggly Woman and Johnny Whatzit. The handmade frames and changing palette of the intervening years constitute a compelling narrative. But the revelation lies in the more recent and utterly singular work, with its oddly dissociated facial features and meticulous clarity of rendering. If figuration seems pressing now, much of it is aimless and deskilled, reliant on easy pop culture references and yummy ooze; Nutt’s progress from raucous to focused holds out hope for other possibilities. Catalogue essays by the curator, Jennifer Gross, and Alexi Worth offer a depathologized version of the artist’s history and sensitive reads of the paintings.