Posted inArts & Culture

Creeping Menace

Sarah Sze: Many a Slip at the Museum of Contemporary Art, through August 1 By Mark Swartz If Sarah Sze’s shopping list had fallen into your hands a few months ago, you might have thought twice about returning it to her–for her own good. Razor blades, pushpins, sewing shears, pills, and other potentially hazardous materials […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Touching the Scars

Transience: Chinese Experimental Art at the End of the Twentieth Century at the Smart Museum, through April 18 By Mark Swartz Here in America we like to think the 60s were a big deal because some students grew their hair long, took drugs, and burned the flag. France looks back in awe at the same […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Loving Portraits

Tom of Finland at TBA, through March 27 David Seltzer: Sex Tales and Other Unrelated Matters at Lallak + Tom, through March 27 By Mark Swartz Tom of Finland used to strip naked before drawing, and as he drew he played with himself. Today he’s celebrated not for ambidexterity but for contributing to a particular […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Forward Into the Past

New Artists Old Techniques at Schneider, through February 13 Homage/The Vintage Photograph at Yello, through January 31 By Mark Swartz The 11 artists in these two shows have all found something useful in photography’s warehouse of obsolete technology. It’s as if they’d discovered old cameras and other equipment on a shelf in the corner, dusted […]

Posted inArts & Culture

In His Own Worlds

Paul Thek at the Arts Club of Chicago, through January 16 By Mark Swartz Born in Brooklyn in 1933, Paul Thek belonged to the first generation of artists to see photographs of the earth from outer space. And though nobody could have been surprised to see a blue marble adrift in vast emptiness, the impact […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Guy Things

Buffalo Hunting: Images of Shame and Power at NFA Space, through February 1 Spaced Out: A Voyage Into Sci-Fi Art at Steppenwolf Theatre, through January 24 By Mark Swartz “Do you think it’s misogynistic?” Iain Muirhead asked me as we stood amid the stereotypically male iconography of “Buffalo Hunting,” an all-male art exhibit he helped […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Rebuilding the Material World

Envisioning the Contemporary at the Museum of Contemporary Art, through April 5 By Mark Swartz As part of its fall series of public programs, the Museum of Contemporary Art is offering a workshop titled “Using Contemporary Art to Stimulate Creativity and Innovation.” The instructor, Gerald Haman, is a consultant who works with Fortune 500 companies […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Deadened Kids

Altered States: Alcohol and Other Drugs in America at the Chicago Historical Society, through September 21 Domestic Bliss: Family Life in American Art at the Terra Museum of American Art, through June 22 By Mark Swartz I saw school groups at both the Chicago Historical Society’s “Altered States” and the Terra Museum’s “Domestic Bliss,” and […]

Posted inMusic

Dissecting Dylan

Greil Marcus Invisible Republic: Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes (Henry Holt) The little bag of honey-roasted peanuts I got on a recent flight to California bore the slogan A Symbol of Freedom. I was especially spooked by this because I was reading Greil Marcus’s Invisible Republic: Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes, a book nominally about a Bob […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Torn Between Two Cultures

Dilemma at the Gary Marks Gallery, through April 26 By Mark Swartz At the beginning of the century, Asian art represented either a pathway for collectors interested in cultivating different sensibilities or a resource for European and American modern artists searching for novel techniques. The differences that gave rise to such impulses have diminished since […]