I’ve never really been a fan of the lovey-dovey hearts-and-flowers aspects of Valentine’s Day. Which is probably why, despite there being manymoreseeminglyappropriateworkstocelebratetoday in the museum’s collection, on this particular day I’m choosing to highlight Kay Rosen’s spare black-and-white painting 4-1/2 Oxen.
It takes a moment (or maybe more than a moment) to “get” Rosen’s paintings. In this case, 4-1/2 Oxen refers to the word “ox” (as in the animal) written precisely 4.5 times—four and a half oxen. But one of Rosen’s primary interests is how we deconstruct and reconstruct language, so she might have guessed that one of the first ways that viewers might “read” this painting would be to latch on to the XOXO, a series of letters that commonly signifies love.
Rosen holds a Master’s degree in Linguistics from Northwestern University and her preoccupation with language runs deep in her work, which often contains synonyms, homonyms (as in the museum’s Sic [Sic] Sick), and wordplay (as in the museum's Two Eiffels, among others). Such attention leads the viewer to acknowledge how they're interpreting and connecting letters and words. For example, in Torsos Rot (one of the least romantic titles possible), did you read it as "TOR" "SOS" "ROT" or as the title of the work, “TORSOS ROT”? Did you read it as a palindrome? And how does your reading/viewing of the work change because of how the letters are written: three letters on three lines? It's an overwhelming amount of information presented in seemingly simple terms.
So, Happy Valentine's Day? At the very least, I hope you all have a little "XOXO" in your life.
2 hours 3 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago CLOSING SUNDAY—Design Episodes: The Modern Chair
Explore the evolution of the modern chair in the 20th century with iconic examples from makers like Charles and Ray Eames, Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand, and Harry Bertoia, among others.
THE MODERN CHAIR—http://bit.ly/2dD4Xy0
22 hours 6 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago CLOSING SOON—Supernatural Shakespeare
While Shakespeare’s title characters might have the most name recognition, the Bard’s meddling witches and mischievous faerie folk often steal the show. See this focused installation before it closes October 10.
1 day 1 hour ago The Art Institute of Chicago THURSDAY at 6:00—Join us for a tour of works in our collection presented in American Sign Language with voice interpretation.