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Krannert Art Museum Focuses Exhibition on Chicago Imagism
Karl Wirsum, Looking at a Curve Ball in Cuernavaca, 1983. Acrylic on canvas. John Needles Chester Fund and Illinois Arts Council 1984-12-1 © Karl Wirsum.
CHAMPAIGN, IL.- Krannert Art Museum opened the fall with six new exhibitions, one of which focuses on artwork created by Chicago Imagists.

Figures in Chicago Imagism (August 26, 2010 through January 9, 2011) presents a selection of paintings, works on paper, and sculptures from the museum’s permanent collection intended to broaden the scope of Chicago Imagism by including not only artists commonly exhibited as such, but also those who were influential in the creation of the school.

While post-World War II artists in New York explored their inner creative processes through abstract expressionism, many artists in Chicago generated figurative works focused on issues created by the war. The Monster Roster, a group of Chicago artists that included Leon Golub, Theodore Halkin, and June Leaf, created intense works that illustrated their existential explorations through figuration. These artists, along with Don Baum, Peter Saul, and H. C. Westermann, influenced a younger generation of Chicago artists with their complete dedication to craft and craftsmanship, as well as with their witty sense of humor.

Many of these younger artists, such as Jim Nutt, Ed Paschke, and Karl Wirsum, were students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the late 1960s. Group names emerged from organized exhibitions—The Hairy Who, Non-Plussed Some, and False Image—but collectively the artists were categorized as Chicago Imagists and known for quirky, humorous, and highly sexualized works that investigated what images are and how they function within different contexts. Though each artist possesses a highly unique style, all share formal commonalities and influences while working in a variety of media.

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