previews

  • William J. O’Brien

    Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA Chicago)
    220 East Chicago Avenue
    January 25 - May 18

    Curated by Naomi Beckwith

    William J. O’Brien’s feverish material explorations regularly succumb to restrained, taxonomical displays when entering the public arena. At Chicago’s Renaissance Society in 2011, O’Brien installed a tiered arrangement of modestly scaled ceramic objects. Last winter, he hung grids of felt compositions and framed oil pastel and inkwash works on paper at Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York. For this survey exhibition at the MCA, to be complemented by the first major catalogue devoted to the artist’s work, roughly one hundred of O’Brien’s abundant artifacts will be “organized like a poem,” with stanza-like groupings convening disparate objects including textiles, paintings, colored-pencil abstractions, ceramics, and glitter-coated assemblages. One of the show’s earlier pieces is a 2008 line drawing that depicts a nude clown with a conspicuous erection, riding a camel-like circus animal—an allegorical figure that, in its Calder-esque clarity and simplicity of means, should stand out as an anomaly in O’Brien’s vast field of work shaped by intuitive, romantic energies.

  • Christopher Williams, Bergische Bauernscheune, Junkersholz, Leichlingen, September 29th, 2009, ink-jet print, 17 x 21 5/8".

    “Christopher Williams: The Production Line of Happiness”

    The Art Institute of Chicago
    111 South Michigan Avenue
    January 24 - May 18

    Curated by Matthew S. Witkovsky, Mark Godfrey, and Roxana Marcoci

    Conceptual artist Christopher Williams’s first museum retrospective, featuring his trademark photographs, films, and videos from the last thirty-five years, is sure to be a nontraditional survey: Williams has conceived all three incarnations of this traveling exhibition as works in their own right, each fitted with site-specific interventions that will reflect on the architecture of that venue. An extensive publication—more artists’ book than catalogue—accompanies the project, containing essays by Godfrey, Marcoci, and Witkovsky along with a wide selection of source material: lists, budgets, contracts, and manifestos authored by Daniel Buren, Morgan Fisher, and Scritti Politti, among many others. Characteristic of all Williams’s output, this book analyzes the parameters and conditions of its own production. Travels to the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Aug. 2–Nov. 2; Whitechapel Gallery, London, Apr.–June 2015.