press release

Through its dedication to presenting groundbreaking exhibitions and its contribution to the evolving history of contemporary art, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Chicago, has acquired numerous important and significant works from key contemporary artists over the past 40 years. As a result of these acquisitions, the MCA’s collection holds in-depth bodies of work by some of the foremost contemporary artist of our time; including Bruce Nauman, Leon Golub, Cindy Sherman, Donald Judd, Sharon Lockhart, William Kentridge, Kara Walker, and Sarah Sze. Artists in Depth: Works from the MCA Collection presents a comprehensive and diverse exhibition of works by these nine essential contemporary artists.

William Kentridge and Alexander Calder

May 10 – March 1, 2009

Artists in Depth presents a film and a group of drawings by William Kentridge, a South African artist whose politically inspired films and drawings evoke emotional struggles and reflect on the picturesque quality of storytelling. Kentridge’s stop-animation film, History of the Main Complaint, focuses on one charcoal drawing which he films, erases, draws over, and then films again. The film and accompanying drawings reveal the complex, troubled history and harsh social realities of Kentridge’s homeland, ultimately exploring the human condition and the dynamic relationship among past, present, and future. Kentridge’s work was featured in a major MCA exhibition in 2001.

A group of mobiles, stabiles, sculptures, and drawings by Alexander Calder are also on view. He combined colorful shapes abstracted from nature -- snowflakes, birds, and animals -- with an interest in mechanics to create whimsical objects in which structure and balance are primary features. Calder’s explorations of both geometric and organic shapes have distinguished him as an innovator of art that responds to its physical environment.

Bruce Nauman

June 28 – November 2, 2008

The MCA holds one of the largest and most significant institutional collections of the work of Bruce Nauman. The works presented here, created between 1965 and 1989, reveal themes and subjects that recur throughout Nauman’s work -- such as the function of art, the role of the artist, and the primacy of the idea over whatever physical form it may take. Nauman was among the first artists to use his body as an expressive instrument and to explore performance as an extension of sculpture. Exploring new, untested materials in his early fiberglass and rubber sculptures, he also investigated new means of expression, which led him to experiment with neon sign-like sculptures and interactive installations. Nauman has consistently explored the relationship between words and images, often emphasizing psychological factors such as tension, dissonance, entrapment, manipulation, and control. His innovative work continues to impact subsequent generations and artists.

Leon Golub, Sharon Lockhart, and Donald Judd

June 28- February 22, 2009

Born and educated in Chicago, Leon Golub is known for works that use images of human figure to depict expression of power. From early paintings inspired by early Greek and Roman art to later works that draw on documentary photographs, Golub’s work is often political, seeking to raise awareness of the violence that permeates our world and the horrors of war.

Sculptures by Donald Judd, a pioneer of minimalism, and photographs by Sharon Lockhart are grouped together to invite intriguing comparisons, despite the difference in media. Judd’s signature works consist of geometric elements configured in vertical and horizontal progressions, carefully orchestrated to achieve a visual rhythm. With surfaces ranging from highly finished painted metal to natural wood, rationality, and rigor. Likewise, Lockhart’s works are rigorously composed and technically precise. However, while Judd emphasized the physically of rhythmically repetitive objects, Lockhart investigates the formal and conceptual relationships between photography and films through serial, multipart images that evoke the passage of time, similar to frames of a film.

Cindy Sherman, Kara Walker, and Sarah Sze

July 5, 2008 - March 1, 2009

The final part of Artists in Depth showcases the defining works of Cindy Sherman, Kara Walker, and Sarah Sze. Since the mid-1970s, the photographic work of Cindy Sherman has presented a range of characters drawn from familiar cultural sources, including low-budget movies from the 1950s, magazine centerfolds, fashion photography, fairy tales, old master painting, and horror films. Using herself as a model and interweaving both real and artificial components with highly theatrical overtones, Sherman parodies these styles and offers an irreverent, yet incisive critique of assumptions about social and psychological identity.

Major installations of Kara Walker and Sarah Sze are also on view. Walker’s work, made of black paper cut into sharply defines portrait silhouettes, examines the psychological, historical, and social implications of slavery and the pre-Civil War South. In Walker’s works, truth and fiction collide and historical power relations are reversed; everyone is a victim and everyone is a perpetrator. Sze creates dynamic sculptural installations using ordinary objects. Though her works are disorienting in their scale and apparent instability, they are meticulously mapped and arranges, deftly balancing order and chaos and offering a range of aesthetic qualities that suggests the presence of a living organism.

The exhibition is organized by Elizabeth Smith, James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator and Deputy Director of Programs.

Artists in Depth
Works from the MCA Collection

Künstler: William Kentridge & Alexander Calder, Bruce Nauman, Leon Golub, Sharon Lockhart, Donald Judd, Cindy Sherman, Kara Walker, Sarah Sze