In 2012, the celebrated artist Eldzier Cortor made an extraordinary gift to the Art Institute: a painting, 30 prints, and several printing matrices. Presenting selected works from the gift—many on display for the first time—this exhibition celebrates this outstanding addition to the collection.
A Chicago native, Eldzier Cortor entered the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1936 and came under the influence of instructor Kathleen Blackshear, who led students to explore the regional arts of Africa and other non-Western cultures at the Field Museum and Oriental Institute in Chicago. At the same time, Cortor, like his peers in the Harlem Renaissance, was inspired by philosopher Alain Locke’s call for African American artists to reclaim their ancestral heritage as a means of strengthening and enriching their expression.
These two influences can be seen at play throughout his career, even from its earliest moments. Working with the Federal Arts Program from 1938 to 1943, Cortor focused on African American social life on Chicago’s South Side. Later, living and painting among the Gullah people (formerly enslaved Africans) on the Sea Islands off South Carolina, he became fascinated by their deep cultural connection to their African roots. His experiences with the Gullah fostered his decision to depict Woman as the archetypal image of all people. Eventually, this focus evolved to combine Woman and Dance, as shown in so many of the prints in this exhibition.
Although Cortor primarily worked with intaglio printmaking processes, he produced several woodblock prints in the mid-1950s with Japanese printmaker Jun’ichiro Sekino, a leading member of the Sosaku Hanga, or Creative Prints, movement. Five works from this period are on display, demonstrating the highly original hybrid of Western and Japanese techniques that resulted from Cortor and Sekino’s close collaboration.
Also on view are some of Cortor’s experimental prints made in Manhattan at Robert Blackburn’s Printmaking Workshop, where he worked between 1955 and 1998. Some of these bear the title Abattoir, literally “slaughterhouse.” Although the artist was familiar with Chicago’s notorious meatpacking industry, his works allude to the harsh environment he found in Haiti after several friends were killed by François “Papa Doc” Duvalier’s dictatorial regime.
Bringing together examples of Cortor’s work throughout his remarkable career, this focused exhibition celebrates not only the artist’s tireless innovation but also his tremendous generosity in sharing his work with the museum and our visitors. Thus the Art Institute is pleased to announce that Cortor, who turns 99 this January, will be this year’s recipient of the Leadership Advisory Committee’s Legends and Legacy Award, an honor recognizing African American artists who have achieved national acclaim with careers spanning over 50 years.
16 hours 19 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago "Be a good craftsman; it won't stop you being a genius.”
Advice from Pierre-Auguste Renoir, on his birthday.
See 13 paintings by the great French Impressionist—now on view: http://bit.ly/2lj3AVq
1 day 10 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago NOW OPEN—Go
Speed is both a product of modern life and an agent of it. At the turn of the 20th century, new technologies of mobility and transmission—trains, cars, airplanes, radio, film, television, to name only a few—increased the pace of life, collapsing distances between people and places and assaulting the senses.
Go, the second exhibition in the Art Institute’s Modern Series, explores how artists responded to different ways of experiencing and seeing the world in the accelerated modern age—through paintings, sculpture, works on paper, photographs, designed objects, textiles, books, and films.
1 day 14 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago Happy birthday to Winslow Homer. In 1883 the artist moved to a small coastal village in Maine, where he created a series of paintings of the sea unparalleled in American art. The paintings he created after 1882 focused almost exclusively on humankind’s age-old contest with nature.
In The Herring Net, Homer depicted the heroic efforts of fishermen at their daily work. While one fisherman hauls in the netted and glistening herring, the other unloads the catch. Utilizing the teamwork so necessary for survival, both strive to steady the precarious boat as it rides the incoming swells. Homer’s isolation of these two figures underscores the monumentality of their task: the elemental struggle against a sea that both nurtures and deprives.
See five paintings by Winslow Homer in Gallery 171 of American Art—http://bit.ly/2l89rfx