As of January 1, 2016, Gapers Block is on indefinite hiatus. The site will remain up in archive form while we evaluate our options, which may include a redesign or sale.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions over the past 12-plus years. 

TODAY

Wednesday, February 22

Gapers Block
Search

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr


A/C
« The Hateful Eight, Concussion, Joy, Carol, Hitchcock/Truffaut & Man Up Bye Bye, Gapers Block from the A/C Team »

Review Mon Dec 28 2015

At the MCA: Pop Art Design Gives Us a Refresher Course on the '60s and '70s

Pop Art Design at MCA Chicago
Pop Art Design exhibition view. Photos by Nathan Keay.

It may be your father's pop art, but the work shown in the new exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art is still fresh and fun. The art that shocked the elite art world 50 years ago still has a story to tell today.

The new Pop Art Design exhibit at the MCA pairs 150 art works and design objects in an exhibit that sparkles with wit and irreverence. And it reminds you of how Andy Warhol's "Campbell soup can art" was first received with ridicule...by non-connoisseurs. That was just about the time that the elite collectors woke up and began buying Warhols.

The exhibit, which originated at the Vitra Design Museum in Germany, is paired with The Street, the Store and the Silver Screen, a companion exhibit of seminal works of pop art drawn from the MCA's own collection, along with some local loans. Some of these works haven't been seen in years or have never been displayed.

Pop Art Design at MCA Chicago
George Nelson, Marshmallow Sofa, 1956.

The original pop art works are still brazen, vivid and just a little outrageous. Michael Darling (the MCA's chief curator) has organized the exhibit into mini-themes such as Reality as Collage, the Female Fetish, Clichés of Modern Life and Everyday Heroes. The paired exhibits make clear how pop art influenced the look of furniture, architecture, consumer products, typography and graphic design.

Pop Art Design at MCA Chicago
Ed Paschke, Elcina, 1973, and James Rosenquist, Woman I, 1963.

George Nelson's "Marshmallow Sofa" from 1956 still looks good enough to eat or sit on. Claes Oldenburg's "Green Beans" (1964) are surely ready to cook and Studio 65's "Bocca" (red mouth) is cushy and welcoming. Two whimsical pieces by Niki de Saint Phalle are included in the Female Fetish section, reminding me of the fabulous exhibit of her giant sculptures at Garfield Park in 2007. Ed Paschke is represented by several works, including Casey (1975) and Elcina (1973).

Pop Art Design at MCA Chicago
Studio 65, Bocca, 1970

Those two exhibits fill the museum's fourth floor. On the second floor, another exhibit provides insights from surrealists of several eras. Some 100 paintings, sculptures, drawings and photos from the MCA collection are shown in Surrealism: The Conjured Life. The exhibit is in a large freestanding spiral in the center of a gallery on the second floor, with the inner gallery walls devoted to "classical" European surrealists such as Yves Tanguy, Rene Magritte and Jean Dubuffet. The outer spiral walls display international contemporary artists with an affinity to surrealism. Here we see works by artists like Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman, Lee Bontecou and Gabriel Orozco.

Pop Art Design at MCA Chicago
René Magritte, Les merveilles de la nature (The Wonders of Nature), 1953.

The gallery walls outside the spiral feature artists associated with Chicago including members of the Chicago Imagists (Jim Nutt, Gladys Nilsson and Ed Paschke) and those earlier artists known as the "Monster Roster" (Don Baum, June Leaf and Leon Golub). There's also work from a diverse group of recent Chicago artists such as Henry Darger, Patty Carroll and Marcos Raya.

The Surrealism exhibit adds an element of classicism to the Pop Art Design exhibit; it puts those repetitive silkscreened images, soup cans, green beans, and giant mouths into historical context.

The MCA security guards even have clever new t-shirts as part of the museum's new "grid" identity. The front of the black shirt trumpets "Avant" in large white letters, while the back reminds you he is in fact a "Guard."

Pop Art Design continues at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave., through March 27. Surrealism: The Conjured Life will be on display through June 5. Hours are 10am to 8pm on Tuesdays and 10am to 5pm Wednesday through Sunday. (They'll be closed on New Year's Day.) Admission is $12 and $7 for students and seniors. Members are admitted free.

 
GB store
GB store

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

Read this column »

Blogroll

ACRE
An Angry White Guy
Antena
AREA Chicago
ArchitectureChicago Plus
Arts Engagement Exchange
The Art Letter
Art or Idiocy?
Art Slant Chicago
Art Talk Chicago
Bad at Sports
Bite and Smile
Brian Dickie of COT
Bridgeport International
Carrie Secrist Gallery
Chainsaw Calligraphy
Chicago Art Blog
Chicago Art Department
Chicago Art Examiner
Chicago Art Journal
Chicago Artists Resource
Chicago Art Map
Chicago Art Review
Chicago Classical Music
Chicago Comedy Examiner
Chicago Cultural Center
Chicago Daily Views
Chicago Film Examiner
Chicago Film Archives
Chicago Gallery News
Chicago Uncommon
Collaboraction
Contemporary Art Space
Co-op Image Group
Co-Prosperity Sphere
Chicago Urban Art Society
Creative Control
Defibrillator
Devening Projects
Digressions
DIY Film
ebersmoore
The Exhibition Agency
The Flatiron Project
F newsmagazine
The Gallery Crawl...
Galerie F
The Gaudy God
Happy Dog Gallery
HollywoodChicago
Homeroom Chicago
I, Homunculus
Hyde Park Artcenter Blog
InCUBATE
Joyce Owens: Artist on Art
J-Pointe
Julius Caesar
Kasia Kay Gallery
Kavi Gupta Gallery
Rob Kozlowski
Lookingglass Theatre Blog
Lumpen Blog
Marquee
Mess Hall
N'DIGO
Neoteric Art
NewcityArt
NewcityFilm
NewcityStage
Not If But When
Noun and Verb
On Film
On the Make
Onstage
Peanut Gallery
Peregrine Program
Performink
The Poor Choices Show
Pop Up Art Loop
The Post Family
The Recycled Film
Reversible Eye
Rhona Hoffman Gallery
Roots & Culture Gallery
SAIC Blog
The Seen
Sharkforum
Sisterman Vintage
Site of Big Shoulders
Sixty Inches From Center
Soleil's To-Do's
Sometimes Store
Steppenwolf.blog
Stop Go Stop
Storefront Rebellion
TOC Blog
Theater for the Future
Theatre in Chicago
The Franklin
The Mission
The Theater Loop
Thomas Robertello Gallery
threewalls
Time Tells Tony Wight Gallery
Uncommon Photographers
The Unscene Chicago
The Visualist
Vocalo
Western Exhibitions
What's Going On?
What to Wear During an Orange Alert?
You, Me, Them, Everybody
Zg Gallery

GB store

 

Events


A/C on Flickr

Join the A/C Flickr Pool.



About A/C

A/C is the arts and culture section of Gapers Block, covering the many forms of expression on display in Chicago. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Nancy Bishop, nancy@gapersblock.com
A/C staff inbox: ac@gapersblock.com

Archives

 

A/C Flickr Pool
 Subscribe in a reader.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15

Newsletter

Sign up for our free email newsletter I Star Chi and get a weekly round-up of the best of Gapers Block, plus our picks for must-do events each weekend!

istarchi

Preferred format    Preferred format