The Art Institute is thrilled to welcome the first retrospective of Indian-born American artist Zarina. Organized by the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, this long-overdue survey traces Zarina’s career from 1961 to the present and features approximately 60 works from the artist’s studio, as well as from public and private collections.
Zarina Hashmi was born in Aligarh, India, in 1937 and has lived and worked in New York for the past 30 years. Her main medium is paper, which she employs in woodcuts, etchings, drawings, rubbings, and casts made from paper pulp. Although she is primarily a printmaker, she considers herself to be a sculptor as well, in part because the activity of carving blocks of wood is central to her practice.
Zarina’s vocabulary is minimal yet rich in associations. Her abstract compositions are inextricably linked to her life and to the themes of dispossession and exile that have marked it. Her family is Muslim but chose to stay in India following the partition of 1947, which resulted in the uprooting and deaths of millions of people. Conditions in India eventually made it impossible for them to remain any longer, but by the time her parents chose to immigrate to Pakistan in 1959, Zarina was married and living in Thailand. She was unable to return to her childhood home and was also not “at home” in Pakistan. She later lived in Germany, France, and Japan before settling in the United States. The concept of home—whether personal, geographical, national, spiritual, or familial—resonates throughout Zarina’s work. The lines that define her spaces are never anonymous; on the contrary, they are handcrafted and calligraphic. Although it appears in different guises throughout her oeuvre, her distinctive sense of line is the unifying element of her compositions, like an umbilical cord that ties her to this world regardless of where she is.
Zarina, who chooses to be referred to simply by her first name, was a prominent figure in feminist circles of the New York art scene in the 1970s. While her work has been featured in major exhibitions and is represented in important public collections, including those of the Hammer Museum, the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, this exhibition marks the most comprehensive survey to date of her strikingly beautiful, contemplative, and poetic oeuvre.
Organizer Zarina: Paper Like Skin was organized by the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and curated by Allegra Pesenti.
Sponsors The Art Institute of Chicago’s presentation is made possible through the generous support of Prabhakant and Anita Sinha and Anuradha and Arjun Aggarwal.
Additional support is provided by Diane and Richard Weinberg.
The exhibition was made possible by a major gift from Susan Steinhauser and Daniel Greenberg/The Greenberg Foundation.
Generous support was also provided by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.
6 hours 21 min 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.
10 hours 46 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.
21 hours 46 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.