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View of “Christopher Williams: The Production Line of Happiness,” 2014, Art Institute of Chicago.

Christopher Williams

The Art Institute of Chicago

View of “Christopher Williams: The Production Line of Happiness,” 2014, Art Institute of Chicago.

“THE PRODUCTION LINE OF HAPPINESS,” Christopher Williams’s first retrospective, made its debut as a three-part installation mounted in discrete, noncontiguous spaces within the Art Institute of Chicago’s complex of exhibition areas: the lower level of the stately Allerton Building that fronts on Michigan Avenue, the capacious ground floor of Renzo Piano’s nearby Modern Wing, and that wing’s second floor. Approaching each of these separate and separated spaces, visitors were addressed by large vinyl wall coverings displaying supersize reproductions of pages from the show’s catalogue. These billboard-scale tableaux, which feature texts set in large black sans serif Swiss type against bright Kodak-yellow grounds, reveal their provenance with page numbers at the upper right or left. At the Modern Wing, a section of vinyl-covered exhibition wall lay face up on the ground floor, causing

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