Posted inArts & Culture

A Guy and His Dolls

Hans Bellmer at Alan Koppel, through June 19 From Cindy Sherman’s troubling images of damaged dolls to the perennial art-student Barbie project, dolls in contemporary art have come to communicate issues of body image and gender identity. But perhaps because our anything-goes culture tends to reduce attempts at outrage to irony or humor, few have […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Seamsters

Thomas Kellner: In America at Schneider, through June 12 Doug Fogelson: Intersections at Kraft Lieberman, through May 28 Ken Fandell: From Up and Down, and Still Somehow at Bodybuilder & Sportsman, through June 5 “Seamlessness” is an increasingly popular term of praise for imagery stitched together digitally, but sometimes old-school methods yield photographs that exploit […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Long, Hard Looks

Lake Affect: Photographs by Othello Anderson at City Gallery, through June 28 Barbara Crane: Still Lifes / Natures Mortes at the Chicago Cultural Center, through May 23 Disciplined, carefully delimited approaches to nature photography yield a revelatory diversity in two exhibitions. Shooting in color, Othello Anderson has been recording a single view of Lake Michigan […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Ravishing Refuse

Laura Letinsky: Hardly More Than Ever at the Renaissance Society, through April 19 Among the objects in Laura Letinsky’s luminous, ravishing landscapes are crumbs, flower petals, broken goblets, candy bar wrappers, crumpled napkins, stained tablecloths, orange peels, dried-out lemons, fleshy cantaloupes, raspberries, a red plastic bottle cap, and an aluminum pull tab from a pop […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Governments in Action

Paul Shambroom: Evidence of Democracy at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, through December 5 In Paul Shambroom’s Yamhill, Oregon (Population 790) City Council, April 9, 2003, five physically imposing people sit at a table facing the viewer. Though all are casually dressed and their poses and expressions are unpretentious, their body language communicates different attitudes: […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Idealistic Realism

Thomas Struth at the Museum of Contemporary Art, through September 28 El ojo fino at the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, through October 5 My favorite variant of the idea that the real world is a bleak, tedious place is the phrase “reality hit me,” implying as it does that reality is a violent, unforgiving […]

Posted inArts & Culture

People in Motion, Objects at Rest

Garry Winogrand at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, through September 27 Carlos Flores at City, through September 29 American art tends to celebrate movement over stasis, the spontaneous over the preconceived. The soaring verses of Walt Whitman, the wildly energetic scores of Charles Ives, the expansive lines of Jackson Pollock, the unpredictable rhythms of Stan […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Family Silver

Unknown Maker: The Art of the American Daguerreotype at the Art Institute of Chicago, through September 28 Historically considered the first medium of the masses, the daguerreotype was relatively cheap and easy to produce, bringing family portraiture within reach of the middle and lower classes. “Unknown Maker: The Art of the American Daguerreotype” captures these […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Blood on the Walls

Killer Shots: A Photographic Response to War at Catherine Edelman Gallery, through August 30 For “Killer Shots,” Catherine Edelman spent five months gathering 35 images of war and its aftermath by 22 photojournalists, relocating them from the pages of magazines and newspapers to the white walls of her River North gallery. Freed from the agendas […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Off the Face of the Earth

Sally Gall: Subterranea at Catherine Edelman, through July 12 David Maisel at Schneider, through July 19 North American landscape painters of the 19th century, working at a time when our wilderness was first being destroyed, created sweeping mountain views that configured nature as a cathedral. Now two photo shows at galleries just across the street […]

Posted inArts & Culture

They Like to Watch

The Furtive Gaze at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, through July 12 When I heard yelling, I looked out my window and saw a woman across the street pleading with a man to keep their relationship a secret from a relative. Then I noticed someone leaning out a window with a camcorder aimed down at […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Forest and the Trees

Yannick Demmerle at Vedanta, through June 14, and Arndt & Partner, through June 7 The theatricality of Andreas Gursky’s and Thomas Struth’s large-format photography gives their images the quality of public events, and their mural-like surfaces re-create the power of mass-media imagery: some of Gursky’s digitally altered photos depict a profusion of consumer objects while […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Beyond the Frame

Andrea Robbins and Max Becher: The Transportation of Place at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, through March 5 Neocon art critic Hilton Kramer once griped that “the more minimal the art, the more maximum the explanation,” and many others have questioned the legitimacy of visual art that depends on explanatory texts. But some artists do […]

Posted inArts & Culture

So Real It Hurts

Robert Frank: What Am I Looking At at the Art Institute of Chicago, through February 2 Considering that one of photographer Robert Frank’s stated goals is to “search for an image that comes close to a truth,” it’s ironic that critical debate has focused on his work’s subjectivity. When he published The Americans in 1958, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Feeling the Buzz

Brigida Baltar: Bee House at Julia Friedman, through December 7 What does it mean for a photographer to portray herself as a human honeycomb? In “Bee House,” Brazilian artist Brigida Baltar slaps you with this question, then refuses to answer. While the exhibition features a short video loop of honey dripping down a staircase and […]