Elmhurst Art Museum presents 'What Came After: Figurative Painting in Chicago 1978-98' starting Sept. 14

  • Tony Phillips' oil on canvas titled "The Space Between" will be one of the pieces on exhibit at "What Came After" at Elmhurst Art Museum.

    Tony Phillips' oil on canvas titled "The Space Between" will be one of the pieces on exhibit at "What Came After" at Elmhurst Art Museum. Courtesy of Tony Phillips

Posted8/23/2019 10:56 PM

Elmhurst Art Museum, 150 S. Cottage Hill Ave., presents "What Came After: Figurative Painting in Chicago 1978-98" starting Sept. 14 to Jan. 12.

Organized by Chicago-based, internationally exhibited artist Phyllis Bramson, "What Came After" is a survey of diverse interests in the figure as a subject, the human condition, and an interest in personal iconography.


According to Bramson, "Many have struggled with understanding and processing the term 'Chicago Imagism' since it was first used in the early 1970s, including artists that built on the ideas of their peers or sought to break free from expectations of that legacy. 'What Came After' better defines and celebrates this later generation of artists, which have been called third generation Imagists, Post-Imagists, and the Chicago School."

In addition to Bramson, artists represented in "What Came After" include Nicholas Africano, Susanne Doremus, Eleanor Spiess-Ferris, Richard Hull, Michiko Itatani, Paul Lamantia, Robert Lostutter, Jim Lutes, Tony Phillips, David Sharpe, Hollis Sigler, Ken Warneke, Margaret Wharton, and Mary Lou Zelazny. The show of 30 paintings will serve as an introduction to these artists for a broad audience, while also examining a specific time and place in Chicago's recent history.

"We are thrilled to work with this group of artists, as well as Elmhurst College again, to dig deeper into Chicago's rich cultural history. The exhibition builds on an ongoing conversation about Chicago Imagism, which has become broadly and internationally known, but often misunderstood," said Elmhurst Art Museum Executive Director John McKinnon. "The painters in this exhibition have all been recognized in their own right, yet this period of history has often been overlooked."

The exhibition's original scholarship will include a brochure with essays by Bramson, Chicago curator Lynne Warren, and New York curator/critic Deven Golden.

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In these texts, the wide-ranging term of Chicago Imagism will be discussed as valuable yet limiting. Public programs will better define how the well-used term was formed, what it originally meant, and what it has come to mean through time.

"What Came After" is dedicated to the late art critic James Yood, initially involved in early planning of this exhibition, and advocate of Midwest artists from this particular time period.

It is organized in conjunction with a new installation across Elmhurst's museum campus at Elmhurst College's A.C. Buehler Library. This new display was organized by Suellen Rocca, one of the original members of the Hairy Who collective and current curator and director of exhibitions at Elmhurst College.

As part of the exhibit, the museum will be offering related public programs.

• On Saturday, Sept. 14, there will be a panel discussion titled "Despite Imagism" at 1:30 p.m. Presenters including artist Phyllis Bramson, curator Lynne Warren, curator/critic Deven Golden, and artists Richard Hull, Susanne Doremus, and Jim Lutes. Free with museum admission.


• Children and parents are invited to participate in hands-on activities inspired by the current exhibition for "Family Days" from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28, and Monday, Oct. 14 (Columbus Day). Available to all ages. Free with museum admission.

• Tours of Elmhurst College's Chicago Imagist collection with Suellen Rocca at 1:30 p.m. Saturdays, Oct. 19 and Nov. 9. See the newly reinstalled, internationally recognized Chicago Imagist collection at Elmhurst College with these exclusive tours by Suellen Rocca, one of the original members of the Hairy Who collective and current curator and director of exhibitions at the college. Rocca will offer first-person accounts of Chicago's cultural history, while also providing context and furthering the dialogue about art from Chicago during the 1970s-'90s.

• On Saturday, Nov. 2, join a talk about Chicago Imagism and its legacy by art critic, curator and essayist Deven Golden in "What is Chicago Imagism?" at 1:30 p.m. This talk will look at the artist dialogue that led up to this period, what followed, and how things irrevocably changed as the 20th century came to an end.

• On Saturday, Nov. 23, curator Robert Cozzolino better defines how the well-used term of Chicago Imagism was formed, what it originally meant, and what it has come to mean through time. The lecture, "What Came After?" will be held at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23.

• On Saturday, Jan. 11, join an exhibition tour with artist and exhibition organizer Phyllis Bramson at 1:30 p.m.

"What Came After" is sponsored by the Explore Elmhurst Grant Program, with public programming sponsored by the Terra Foundation for American Art and the Herman and Esther Halperin Family.

The Terra Foundation for American Art is dedicated to fostering exploration, understanding, and enjoyment of the visual arts of the United States for national and international audiences. Recognizing the importance of experiencing original works of art, the foundation provides opportunities for interaction and study, beginning with the presentation and growth of its own art collection in Chicago. To further cross-cultural dialogue on American art, the foundation supports and collaborates on innovative exhibitions, research, and educational programs. Implicit in such activities is the belief that art has the potential both to distinguish cultures and to unite them.

Elmhurst Art Museum is located at 150 S. Cottage Hill Ave. in Elmhurst, 25 minutes from downtown Chicago by car or public transportation (Metra). The museum is both an international destination for Mies van der Rohe scholars and fans and a regional center where people from Chicago and the western suburbs learn to see and think differently through the study of the art, architecture and design of our time. The museum, which is one block from the Elmhurst Metra station, is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday. Admission is $15 ($12 for seniors) and free for students and children under 18.

Simultaneous with "What Came After," Elmhurst Art Museum will be mounting "McCormick House -- Past, Present, Future," also opening Sept. 14 and continuing to Jan. 12. For the first time ever, the museum will exhibit a full 1950s domestic representation of its Mies van der Rohe McCormick House (1952) as well as historic images showing how residents lived in the home and explanations about the current transitional state of its preservation.

For information, call (630) 834-0202 or visit elmhurstartmuseum.org.

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