50 Years of Chicago Contributions to Art and Architecture: Introduction


Fifty short years ago, Chicago was seen as a relative backwater in the arts. Over the past half-century, though, the city has blazed to the forefront in the fields of theatre, music, food and Art. New York remains the center of the art world but it may now be looking over its shoulder.

In the 1960s, Chicago’s art world, by comparison to New York’s, was very slow. As Rhona Hoffman, noted contemporary art dealer, has written, “There were only a handful of galleries in Chicago showing contemporary art. The great Chicago collectors bought their art in Europe and New York. Things changed in 1967 when the Museum of Contemporary Art opened.”

Things changed even more when a motley group of six artists, called the Hairy Who formed. Building on the efforts of Surrealists and the prior Monster Roster, the Hairy Who began exhibiting at the Hyde Park Art Center in 1966. The art press saw their work as an outré example of art from Chicago and a direct attack on New York abstraction.

Over the next half-century, Chicago has been the art breeding ground for the outsider art movement, the art fair phenomenon, graphic novelists like Chris Ware and advances and reevaluations of Black artists from AfriCOBRA to Theaster Gates and Kerry James Marshall.

There is an air of excitement and new energy coursing through Chicago and its art scene. While the once-solid art community of artists and not-for-profit institutions is no more, a rich variety of diverse voices and DIY spaces is taking shape that will determine the direction that the city pursues in future decades. The New Art Examiner will be watching and reporting on all these exciting developments. We invite you to join us in following those efforts and seeing us as your credible source for the latest information.


The Editors




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