Smart Museum of Art
The University of Chicago
5550 S. Greenwood Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
The exhibition tells a familiar story of aesthetic progress—from naturalism to abstraction to a plurality of contemporary art practices across media—but gives pride of place to the work of women and people of color. It introduces the idea of figure and ground and then demonstrates the myriad ways that artists throughout history manipulated, debated, and, in some cases, ultimately eradicated the dichotomy altogether. It features works in a variety of media—drawn from the Smart’s collection and supplemented by a number of important loans from University of Chicago alumni and Chicago-area collectors—including single-point perspective landscape paintings that act almost like windows on the natural world, modern works that play with perspective or use multiple viewpoints, surrealist paintings that create new realities, abstract works that emphasize surface quality and artifice over illusion, and even sculptures and installations that invite the viewer to enter into a figure-ground relationship with the artwork itself.
With : Kevin Beasley, McArthur Binion, Gustave Caillebotte, Jim Campbell, Nick Cave, Paul Delvaux, Dan Flavin, Sam Gilliam, Jeppe Hein, Rashid Johnson, Lee Krasner, Kerry James Marshall, Joan Mitchell, Alice Neel, Trevor Paglen, Mark Rothko, Cindy Sherman, Sylvia Sleigh, Kara Walker, Jack Whitten, and Kehinde Wiley, among others.