From 20 October 2017, Fondazione Prada will present at its Milan venue a research and information program on the Chicago art scene developed in the aftermath of World War II. The Fondazione thus further expands its strategy of reinterpretation of those moments in contemporary art history that, although not entirely acknowledged by critics, have nonetheless influenced new generations of artists, from graffiti to neo-digital artists. The project is focused on the employment of a painting style characterized by political commitment, figurative narratives and radical graphics, and therefore rejected by mainstream New York culture – which was more interested in the abstract and impersonal dimensions of art. The exhibition is structured around three thematic sections conceived and curated by Germano Celant as a whole – “Leon Golub”, “H. C. Westermann” and “Famous Artists from Chicago. 1965-1975” – all devoted to two generations of artists formed in Chicago between the 50’s and the 60’s. This project further investigates the artistic production of those two decades in a location far from the main artistic centers, from Paris to New York, and explores the development of alternative scenes generated in art schools and academies, namely the School of Art Institute of Chicago, which critically competed or opposed Minimal Art’s industrial and essential approach.
“Famous Artists from Chicago. 1965-1975”, hosted on the ground floor of the Podium, has been conceived as an in-depth analysis of the artists active throughout the 60’s and 70’s, who were featured in shows that questioned traditional exhibition set-up and presentation conventions, such as “Hairy Who” (1966-‘67), “False Image” (1968-‘69), “Nonplussed Some” (1968-’69), organized at the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago, and itinerant exhibition “Made in Chicago”, first presented at the São Paulo Biennial in 1973. The title of the show highlights the necessity, expressed by curator and teacher Don Baum, to launch Chicago artists into the national and international scene.
“Famous Artists from Chicago. 1965-1975” depicts the energy of the cultural environment of this American city as a center for figurative production, as well as the heterogeneity of the contributions of some artists known as Chicago Imagists (Roger Brown, Ed Flood, Art Green, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Ed Paschke, Christina Ramberg, Suellen Rocca and Karl Wirsum), who had identified the roots of their personal research in Surrealism and Art Brut, in a way that anticipated the new tendencies of the 80’s and 90’s, from Graffiti to Street Art, from wild cartoons to urban murals.
The project will be accompanied by three publications in the Fondazione’s Quaderni series, which will analyze the themes of the shows through original texts and materials.