Since the early 1990s, Los Angeles–based artist Uta Barth has examined photographic and visual perception—how the human eye sees differently from the camera lens and how the incidental and atmospheric can become subject matter in and of themselves. That is to say, she is perhaps less interested in where the camera is pointing than the act of looking through the lens in the first place.
The works that brought her to international attention, the series Ground and Field, presented photographic blurs caused by focusing the camera on an unoccupied foreground; these lushly colored images tested connections between the descriptive clarity of photography and the haze of memory. The 2002 series, white blind (bright red), which was rooted in the process of staring at a tree outside her window, explored optical after-images as literal and metaphorical modes of perception. And in 2007, Barth produced Sundial, a series of photographs in her home at dusk. Made at the moment when light begins to transition and fade, these images operate between positive and negative, visibility and invisibility, and shadow and light.
Barth’s latest series, ... and to draw a bright white line with light, debuts with this Art Institute exhibition. As with much of her earlier work, the domestic setting continues to be fertile ground for nuanced explorations of changes in atmosphere, although for the first time the artist has intervened in the scene she previously had only observed. In this new series, Barth transforms a simple observation—the dance of a ribbon of light across curtains—into a complex photographic experience describing perception and the passage of time. The word “photograph” translates as drawing or writing with light; Barth’s new images, then, are quite literally photographs. This newest work is contextualized in the exhibition with select examples from white blind (bright red) and Sundial that have furthered her investigations into perception and light.
Generous support is provided by the Exhibitions Trust: Goldman Sachs, Kenneth and Anne Griffin, Thomas and Margot Pritzker, the Earl and Brenda Shapiro Foundation, Donna and Howard Stone, Mr. and Mrs. Paul Sullivan, and an anonymous donor.
26 min 48 sec ago The Art Institute of Chicago NOW ON VIEW—In 1963 Melvin Edwards began Lynch Fragments, a series of welded steel assemblages made in response to the tumultuous social climate of the Civil Rights movement. The title of the series evokes the horrifying images of racist mob violence, yet Edwards’s works distill the subject into a powerful sculptural language, fusing modernist abstraction with a sense of personal and collective history.
Afrophoenix No. 1—one of the earliest objects from the series—exemplifies how the artist physically transformed found objects and brought them together in poetically suggestive, tension-filled compositions. Here the formal arrangement of steel elements evokes an equestrian bridle and bit. Chains, hammers, nails, spikes, and screws magnify the sculpture’s associative power, recalling implements of labor and torture. At the same the title references the mythological phoenix—alluding to death, rebirth, and transformation.
See Afrophoenix No. 1 (1963) by Melvin Edwards in Gallery 289D.
4 hours 52 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago CLOSING SOON—Modern Velvet: A Sense of Luxury in the Age of Industry
With their plush, inviting, and varied textures, the velvets featured in this exhibition showcase the diversity of modern velvet as well as the effects of industry on its production. As industrial innovations at the turn of the 19th century allowed for faster production and encouraged the use of less costly materials, designers and manufacturers of velvet sought to maintain its association with wealth, luxury, and splendor.
Learn how this elegant fabric has inspired designers for centuries, with a wide range of examples from the 19th century to present day—closing March 19.
15 hours 51 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago Just like the museum's collection comes from artists around the world, so does the Museum Shop’s assortment of products. We source exclusive products from artisans that are inspired by the cultures, mediums, and techniques represented in our museum collection. View our assortment of unique items from India.