The path that led Irving Penn to the seemingly galactic abstractions of his late series Underfoot lay just outside his studio door. Walking the streets of Manhattan with a portable stool and a camera fitted with several extension tubes, Penn lowered his eye and his equipment nearly to the pavement. There he found a universe of abject form: pebbled concrete, cheap discarded matches and cigarette butts, and above all a wealth of masticated gum. Capturing patches of this blobby urban landscape at close range, Penn transformed it with characteristic precision into a world of odd beauty, complete unto itself and unplaceably remote. Former Art Institute Director James Wood, with whom Penn had worked closely to establish the vast archive of his photographs and papers held at the museum, visited the studio and later marveled to Penn at how these photographs showed “the cosmos underfoot.” The Irving Penn Foundation has generously offered all 36 photographs from Underfoot as a gift to the Art Institute in Wood’s memory.
Sponsor Major support for photography exhibitions in the Modern Wing is generously provided by Joyce Chelberg.
1 day 19 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago NOW ON VIEW—Mixed Behavior, a video by Albanian artist Anri Sala, features a lone DJ spinning records on a Tirana rooftop as fireworks explode all around him. With an innovative play between foreground and background, the Paris-based artist creates an allegory of cultural transition.
2 days 19 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago #tbt 1924: Billo and Bella strike a pose with Renoir’s Acrobats and handler William Seiler. From the 1920s until the 1940s, the Art Institute included German Shepherds as part of our crack security team.