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"Phantom Limb: Approaches to Painting Today" opens at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
Sterling Ruby, SP104, 2010. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, restricted gift of the Simkins Family, 2011. Image courtesy of the artist.

CHICAGO, IL.- Phantom Limb: Approaches to Painting Today at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago showcases the evolution of contemporary painting from its modern gestural roots to the intersection of the machine and the hand-made, which is influencing many of the boldest young painters today. Primarily based on the MCA's own collection, and augmented with works from the Chicago community, the exhibition maps a historical skepticism about painting. This exhibition is curated by James W. Alsdorf Curator Michael Darling, and is on view May 5 to October 21, 2012.

Phantom Limb contributes to the dialogue among artists and critics that challenges painting's relevance through an analysis of its rules and biases to trace the medium's artistic evolution and present its current influential status. Artists from Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol to Christopher Wool and Wade Guyton question the role of the hand-made as an indicator of artistic genius or authenticity. This ambivalence towards the hand inspired the exhibition's title, Phantom Limb, which brings together a wide cross-section of painterly activity by artists who are defining the terms by which we understand this tradition today. The exhibition is presented in four thematic sections: Beyond the Brush, Abstraction & Adaptation, Privileging Process, and Enter the Street.

The exhibition features works by artists intent on rethinking painting, including Rauschenberg and Warhol who pioneered collage and silk-screening in the 1960s. During the 1990s, European artists like Sigmar Polke incorporated diverse textures onto their canvases with fabric and other materials. Chicago native Christopher Wool's strong presence in the exhibition attests to his challenging of painting's rules.

Meanwhile, a new generation of artists builds on the earlier breakthroughs by using printing techniques, staining, spraying, and other methods. Artists as diverse as Wade Guyton, Rebecca Morris, Sergej Jensen, Kerstin Brätsch, and Sterling Ruby connect and extend these ideas-the phantom limb of painting-into the present and future.

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