3-D Doings: The Imagist Object in Chicago Art, 1964–1980


  • Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College

September 8, 2018–January 6, 2019

Karl Wirsum, Armpits, 1963, acrylic and fur on canvas, 28 x 26 inches, private collection

3-D Doings: The Imagist Object in Chicago Art, 1964–1980 examines the little-known sculptural work and dimensional painting made by the Chicago Imagists during the early years of their practice. As the first in-depth exploration of the overall affinity of Imagist artists for objects, the exhibition features artists who worked individually to craft unique approaches, but who shared key influences, such as Surrealism and the Surrealist objects. Artworks range from interventions in mass-produced materials—such as Suellen Rocca’s painted purses and reworked thrift-store finds, Ray Yoshida’s decorated crutches, and Roger Brown’s shelf works including ceramics bought by the artist—to finely crafted objects such as Ed Flood’s multilayered back-painted Plexiglas boxes. Many Imagists used materials associated with craft: Karl Wirsum, Christina Ramberg, and Philip Hanson, for example, made extensive use of papier mâché, and Barbara Rossi used sewn fabrics in her printmaking among other examples.

In addition to members of the original Imagist groups, the exhibition includes work by Don Baum, the chief curator of the Imagist moment; Ray Yoshida, the teacher with whom many Imagists studied at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago; as well as H.C. Westermann, arguably the point of origin for the exhibition. 3-D Doings is organized by Tang Dayton Director Ian Berry, and the Chicago-based scholars, independent curators, and gallerists John Corbett and Jim Dempsey.