“Art in Chicago, 1945–1995”

Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA Chicago)

In building the Sears Tower, Chicago—the city with broad shoulders that longs for a higher profile—may have realized its ideal self. Ideal not for boosting the city’s architectural stature, but because the Sears Tower looms over the World Trade Towers and every other building in New York City. The relation between art in Chicago and New York has always been similarly uneven, but here it is New York that casts the shadow.

If the insecurities of Los Angelenos have been soothed of late by the success of a Lari Pittman, Chicago’s ego proves more vulnerable. Many critics outside that city simply would not acknowledge the relevance of even imagist Ed Paschke to the history of American painting. And Paschke surely presides as Chicago’s cardinal figure. Or maybe the fundamentally “outside” Henry Darger better represents Chicago: an imaginative, genuinely perverted amateur to Paschke’s

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