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Museums Sat May 28 2011

Jim Nutt Closes at MCA

nutt.jpgJim Nutt is amazing. I finally got over to the MCA and saw Coming into Character. This is a show of portraits over anything else, with a selection of pieces from his "Harry Who" days, overshadowed by his exploration in the imaginary women portraits.

nutt1.pngWhen Jim Nutt was making his wild Plexiglas reverse paintings he used text to indicate and address things within the work, he also used mutations, growths and sales ads renderings. The use of all these devices was necessary to emphasize the work being made. Having painted them on Plexiglas, the nature of these early pieces were to be slick, but in order for that to work with his style they had to be dramatic. This is where there is a huge leap from the early work of Jim Nutt and his Imaginary Women.

This series of portraits of women, extending back as far as the mid to late 80's, seems to break all the rules and they are a joy to be in the presence of. No longer utilizing text and objects to define the characters in his paintings, he invents patterns and techniques to describe and define. These women stare out past the viewer in contemplation. We look in and are seduced. I almost with these women were real, but alas, they are invented -- they are exercises in painting, patterning and design. This show is the reason every design team should have a fine artists, and every museum should have a great designer.

nutt2.jpgI overheard one lady say she loved one piece in particular and just gushed over it. Minutes later, husband in tow, she points to another piece and said, "Now that takes talent". I would have to agree with her on that. Almost all of these are squares, or just about, and most of them have the original painted frames. As I understand it, he painted his frames and the paintings at the same time, if the painting was altered majorly the frame would be readdressed to correspond with that change.

Of course, this is an awful time to be blogging about this show because it is coming down this weekend, but for what it is worth, this exhibition shows Jim Nutt as a thoughtful and intense artist. Jim Nutt was a designer and an illustrator. This could have been his Achilles Heel, but he worked within those limitations, not unlike Roger Brown, Ed Paschke or dozens of other Chicago artists, to excel at his chosen craft. It is great to look at this show as a Chicago artist, knowing how far we've come, and more importantly knowing who came before us.

 
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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

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