New York

Karl Wirsum

Phyllis Kind Gallery

A creation myth explaining the origins of Karl Wirsum might become paradigmatic for the whole Chicago Imagist school. The artist himself has noted that he and Bugs Bunny share the same year of birth (1939), as if that coincidental bit of chronology explains his predilection for cartoon characters in an ever-expanding repertory of bizarre hybrids drawn from popular culture and personal invention. Wirsum’s decision to become an artist was made while he was recovering from a skull fracture; he was five years old. After studying at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago he, along with Jim Nutt, Gladys Nilsson, and others, participated in the sensational first “Hairy Who” exhibition at the Hyde Park Art Center, a storefront exhibition space on Chicago’s South Side in 1966. The rest is history.

Many of the original Chicago Imagists drew inspiration from comic strips, kitsch objects, sources

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