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At The Smart Museum | Monster Roster: Existentialist Art In Postwar Chicago

"This is the first major exhibition to examine the history and impact of the Monster Roster, which has been overlooked despite being one of the most important Midwestern contributions to the development of American art," the Smart Museum says.

"Spearheaded by Leon Golub and united by a shared interest in the figure during a period that is often seen as dominated by abstraction, the group created deeply psychological works that drew on classical mythology and ancient art.

"It examines not only the complex aesthetics and personal styles of Golub and his compatriots - including Cosmo Campoli, June Leaf, Dominick Di Meo, Seymour Rosofsky, and Nancy Spero, among others - but also uncovers the Monster Roster's relationships with preceding generations of Chicago artists and differences from the well-known Chicago Imagists who followed."



From Wikipedia:

"The Monster Roster was a group of Chicago artists, several of whom served in World War II and were able to go to art school thanks to the G.I. Bill.

"They were given their name in 1959 by critic Franz Schulze, based on their existential, sometimes gruesome, semi-mystical figurative work.

"Many of them were mentored by Vera Berdich, an influential surrealist printmaker who taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago."


"Although the Monster Roster is considered Chicago's first distinctive art movement, it was not a self-identified association but more of a loose group of artists who were creating psychologically charged, inward-looking work inspired by such non-orthodox sources as Greco-Roman art," Kyle MacMillan writes for the Sun-Times.

"While Monster Roster artists were showcased in a few contemporaneous exhibitions, including The Chicago School: 1948-1954 at the Hyde Park Art Center in 1964, this show is the first in-depth survey with an accompanying scholarly catalog."


P.S. From the Smart:

"On view in galleries adjacent to Monster Roster, three related exhibitions and installations explore Monster Roster printmaking, the group's antecedents and influences, and the next generation of Chicago Imagists."


Comments welcome.


Posted on February 3, 2016

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