Exhibition of Chicago Surrealist Paintings from the 1940s and 1950s

Opening: 7 June 2018 6:00 – 7:30 pm
Surrealist Soirée: 8 June 2018 6:00 – 8:00 pm

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: The Arts Club of Chicago is pleased to announce A Home for Surrealism: Fantastic Painting in Midcentury Chicago, a ground-breaking exhibition that traces the US arc of the international art phenomenon. Following displays of Salvador Dalí’s paintings Chicago’s World’s Fair in 1933, such local artists as Gertrude Abercrombie, Ivan Albright, Eldzier Cortor, Harold Noecker, Julio de Diego, Dorothea Tanning, Julia Thecla, and John Wilde took to their canvases to fashion a home-grown apotheosis of the imagination. Working not as an organized movement, but rather in personal and idiosyncratic ways, these painters shared a tendency toward meticulous handling of form. They conjured dream spaces that strove to convince a Midwestern audience of the plausibility of their fantasies.

As early as 1929, The Arts Club of Chicago played an important role in introducing the city to European surrealism with both exhibitions and visits by such artists as Max Ernst, Dalí, and Man Ray. The institution was not only at the forefront of the transatlantic avant-garde, but it also became a meeting place for artist members like Albright and Thecla, as well as ground zero for new information about art. The Arts Club continues these traditions to this day, and with this exhibition will introduce a group of Chicago painters who, until recently, have been largely overlooked.

“This exhibition unearths a trove of Chicago paintings that speak to the city’s psychic life following World War II—the images are haunted and haunting, and display the artists’ simultaneous alienation and rootedness to this place,” says Arts Club Executive Director and curator of the exhibition Janine Mileaf.

Insisting on recognizable subject matter and depictive style, the Chicago surrealists ran counter to the rising tide of Abstract Expressionism on the East Coast. The generation of artists known as the Imagists who succeeded the Chicago surrealists have seemed to appear sui generis from a prior cultural vacuum. This exhibition sheds light upon the missing Midwestern Midcentury and highlights this loosely associated group of artists who dared to portray their wild imaginations.

A Home for Surrealism is funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art, as well as a gift from the Zell Family Foundation. It is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue distributed by the University of Chicago Press (available June 2018), including essays by Robert Cozzolino (Minneapolis Institute of Art), Adam Jolles (Florida State University), Janine Mileaf (Arts Club of Chicago), and Joanna Pawlik (University of Sussex), and artists’ biographies by Marin Sarvé-Tarr (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art).

A Home for Surrealism is part of Art Design Chicago, an initiative of the Terra Foundation for American Art exploring Chicago’s art and design legacy, with presenting partner The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.

About Art Design Chicago Art Design Chicago is a spirited celebration of the unique and vital role Chicago plays as America’s crossroads of creativity and commerce. Spearheaded by the Terra Foundation for American Art, this citywide partnership of nearly 60 cultural organizations explores Chicago’s art and design legacy and continued impact with more than 30 exhibitions, hundreds of events, as well as the creation of several scholarly publications and a four-part documentary presented throughout 2018. #ArtDesignChicago #ArtsClubChicago #ChicagoSurrealism


About The Arts Club of Chicago

Since 1916, The Arts Club of Chicago has been a preeminent exhibitor of international art, a forum for established and emerging artists, and a celebrated venue for performers from around the world. For over 100 years, The Arts Club has opened its membership to artists and patrons of the arts, and its exhibitions to the public. At its inaugural meeting, the mission of the Club was defined as: “to encourage higher standards of art, maintain galleries for that purpose, and to promote the mutual acquaintance of art lovers and art workers.”

The Arts Club of Chicago is located at 201 East Ontario Street. Exhibitions are free and open to the public. Gallery hours are Tuesday- Friday 11:00 am – 6:00 pm, and Saturday 11:00 am – 3:00 pm.
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Featured Image: Harold Noecker. The Genius?, c. 1943. Oil on canvas; 30 x 36 in. (76.2 x 91.4 cm). Collection of Bernard Friedman, Chicago.

Posted April 19, 2018
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