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Museum Shows

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The months between spring and fall semesters are a great time to spend a few hours visiting one of Chicago’s many renowned cultural institutions. In addition to seeing truly remarkable works of art, at the very least you are guaranteed a couple of hours of frigid, humidity-free air conditioning. These recently opened shows highlight the summer offerings found at a few of Chicago renowned art museums:

Jeff Wall
Art Institute of Chicago
111 S. Michigan
June 29 – September 23, 2007

This Friday, June 29, marks the opening of the Art Institute of Chicago’s blockbuster retrospective of contemporary photographer Jeff Wall’s work. Known for his staged blend of the everyday and the surreal, Wall is recognized widely as one of the most influential implementers of photography working within the past thirty years. In addition to the compelling context of the artist’s work, his gradual transition and experimentation between manual and digital photography invite a reconsideration of the medium and its boundaries. The Art Institute’s show—which just wrapped up a trip to the Museum of Modern Art and will continue to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art—promises to be among the most comprehensive examinations of Wall’s career thus far.

Mark di Suvero: Works and Protest
Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago Rooms
78 E. Washington St.
through October 1

An exhibition of images representing the renowned public sculptor Mark di Suvero—known for his 1966 collaboratively produced response to the Vietnam War, entitled Peace Tower—opened recently at the Chicago Cultural Center. Of particular note, the photographs on view were taken by big-name art dealer, Richard Bellamy prior to his death in 1998. The collection of hundreds of photographs taken by the dealer was pared to the approximately twenty-five which best represent his view of di Suvero’s politically charged work. Works and Protest is intended to complement di Suvero’s current installation of work in Millennium Park, which will remain on view for the next year.

Relative Closeness: Photographs of Family and Friends
Museum of Contemporary Photography
600 S. Michigan
through August 8

There’s a box in every American household containing snapshots of varying quality depicting any range of relatives and close friends. Such images are often acknowledged as being of dubious quality. How might families look, however, if they were photographed by someone who knows what he or she is doing? Interested viewers can find out by visiting the Museum of Contemporary Photography’s current exhibition Relative Closeness: Photographs of Family and Friends, which contains family photographs, from Sally Mann’s iconic and much debated nude images of her young daughters to more abstracted images that challenge presumptions regarding both the portrait and the assumed closeness of family.

Escultura Social: A New Generation of Art from Mexico City
Museum of Contemporary Art
220 E. Chicago Avenue
through September 2

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago wants you to know that there’s more—much more, in fact—to contemporary Mexican art than that with which American connoisseurs have familiarity. The museum’s exhibition Escultura Social: A New Generation of Art from Mexico City, which opened on June 23, focuses primarily on non-traditional art forms, such as performance and conceptual work. Through this focus the exhibition hopes to illuminate the interconnectivity between and influence of twentieth-century artists–like Joseph Beuys, for example–on these young Mexican artists, and to create an informative summarization of the state of the contemporary Mexican art scene.

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