previews

Chicago

“Monster Roster: Existentialist Art in Postwar Chicago”

Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago
5550 South Greenwood Avenue
February 11 - June 12

Curated by John Corbett and Jim Dempsey

Although the term Chicago Imagist has become a familiar catchall for several generations of Windy City figurative artists, the movement’s intricate history deserves closer study. What better place to start than with the first generation, whom art historian Franz Schulze memorably described as the Monster Roster—artists closer to expressionism and (as this show’s subtitle would have it) existentialism than were the later Hairy Who? The beastly bevy includes names that remain famous (Leon Golub, Nancy Spero, H. C. Westermann) and cult favorites who ought to be better known (June Leaf, Irving Petlin), as well as others who have fallen into obscurity (among them Cosmo Campoli and George Cohen). The curators and their collaborators offer a welcome chance to revisit the creative ferment of Chicago in the 1950s and ’60s through a selection of more than sixty works by fifteen artists.