Discover the audacious work of a group of daring young artists from Chicago known as the Imagists in the exhibition, Private Eye: The Imagist Impulse in Chicago Art, open in the Indianapolis Museum of Art
at Newfields now through December 5, 2021.
A group of artists began exhibiting at the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago in the mid 1960s. Their distinctive work drew on many resources such as comic books and popular culture, and their audacious, highly idiosyncratic, and personal approach set them apart from contemporaries working on either the East or West Coast. By the mid-1970s, after numerous exhibitions had launched their work on an unsuspecting public, the artists were dubbed The Chicago Imagists. Now, more than 50 years after their first appearance, the Chicago Imagists are regarded as among the most important postwar American artists.
"Chicago artists in the Imagist vein were not following trends," say guest curators John Corbett and Jim Dempsey. "They were all fierce individualists, which has led to them being characterized as eccentric or idiosyncratic. In fact, the original Imagists were pioneers, but the lag between their innovative approach to image making and widespread recognition has been measured in decades rather than years, as their major contribution to American art is only now getting its proper due. Private Eye seeks to understand Imagism in as liberal a way as possible, casting a wide net and looking at antecedents, fellow travelers, later acolytes, as well as the group of artists who banded together to exhibit their work half a century ago.
Private Eye features more than 120 works of art by artists who comprise the original Imagist exhibition groups, such as The Hairy Who and the Nonplussed Some, as well as by Chicago-based artists from the preceding generation, known as the Monster Roster, and a complementary selection of Imagist-influenced artists.
A 208-page publication, Private Eye: The Imagist Impulse in Chicago, will accompany the exhibition. The catalogue includes original essays by the exhibition curators, John Corbett and Jim Dempsey, along with Thea Liberty Nichols. It also includes a reprint of a think-piece written by the late critic Dennis Adrian, along with an interview with the collectors and a timeline that plots the collection against important historical events in the art world. The comprehensive publication is available for purchase in The Museum & Garden Shop at Newfields.
Private Eye is drawn entirely from the collection of Drs. Michael J. Robertson and Christopher A. Slapak, one of the most comprehensive private collections of Chicago Imagist art, which has been promised to the IMA with some pieces already donated to the Museum.
Private Eye is guest curated by John Corbett and Jim Dempsey who are curators and co-owners of Corbett vs. Dempsey art gallery in Chicago.