“About Place: Recent Art of the Americas”

The Art Institute of Chicago

In 1888, the Art Institute of Chicago inaugurated “The American Exhibition,” an event designed to bring contemporary art to midwestern audiences. If this influential show (for many years a biannual event) has an institutional counterpart, it’s the Whitney Biennial, although in look and conception the 1995 versions of these two exhibitions could not have been more dissimilar.

The title of the 76th incarnation of “The American Exhibition,” “About Place: Recent Art of the Americas,” signaled not only geographic expansion (artists from Canada and South America were included for the first time) but also a specific theme—place as body and home, nature and geography. Curator Madeleine Grynstejn’s laudable objective was to assemble a cross-generational ensemble of works that varied in style from Brice Marden’s classical abstraction to Doris Salcedo’s shoe mausoleums. Rather than becoming enmeshed

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