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Four Chicago Artists: Theodore Halkin, Evelyn Statsinger, Barbara Rossi, and Christina Ramberg

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“[A] work of art exists as a whole. No explanation can convey to the heart the full meaning and wonder of art. That meaning is a live thing and withers at the [word’s] touch! —Evelyn Statsinger

Unlike many 20th-century cities where artists were expected to work within the parameters of a predefined canon, Chicago’s artistic influences circulated freely. In a do-it-yourself and communal spirit, local artists made their own way, creating a shared set of decidedly Chicago artistic values consistent across generations and statuses. Thus, despite the 20-year separation between Theodore “Ted” Halkin and Evelyn Statsinger and the generation of Barbara Rossi and Christina Ramberg, each of these four artists shared a commitment to personal authenticity and a talent for inventing original, imaginative compositions inspired by the world around them.

On a material level, these values translated into pieces that reworked found and imagined sources into new forms. In her own practice, Rossi called this “form invention”—she once used dish rags to evoke ringlets of hair—but her term speaks broadly to the innovation at the core of each artist’s work. Halkin created landscapes reconfiguring architectural components into fantastical worlds. Statsinger’s intricately patterned drawings and experimental sketchbooks were playgrounds for shape and figure. Ramberg transformed corsets into urns.

These four artists, all formally educated at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and informally inspired by the city’s cultural resources—from the Field Museum to Maxwell Street Market—developed highly unique practices. The works that resulted are as visionary as they are true to feeling, centering the transformation of shape, line, and color into otherwise incommunicable meaning.

The exhibition brings together approximately 95 drawings, sketchbooks, prints, photograms, quilts, and ephemera from these four artists to showcase how their lives intersected across generations to shape the visual culture of our inimitable city.

It is held in conversation with Christina Ramberg: A Retrospective, the first comprehensive exhibition devoted to the iconic Chicago artist in almost 30 years.


Four Chicago Artists: Theodore Halkin, Evelyn Statsinger, Barbara Rossi, and Christina Ramberg is curated by Mark Pascale, Janet and Craig Duchossois Curator, Prints and Drawings; Stephanie Strother, research associate, Prints and Drawings; and Kathryn Cua, curatorial assistant, Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University.

Sponsors

Major support for Four Chicago Artists is provided by

Statsinger Cohen Foundation logo

Additional support is provided by David R. Selmer and Nancy R. Cass and an anonymous donor.

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