Open Friday: 12 PM - 6 PM

Close Menu

Eye Deal: Abstract Bodies of the Chicago Imagists

August 11, 2018 – June 9, 2019

Gladys Nilsson, Beautify, 1994. Watercolor, gouache, and collage on two sheets of paper, 8 x 5 1/2 inches (each). Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. The Bill McClain Collection of Chicago Imagism.
Overview

From August 11, 2018 through June 9, 2019 the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA) will present an exhibition highlighting their acclaimed collection of works by the Chicago Imagists in Eye Deal: Abstract Bodies of the Chicago Imagists. The name, Eye Deal, is sourced from the title of two works in the exhibition by artist Barbara Rossi. The exhibition will also feature artwork by Sarah Canright, Art Green, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Christina Ramberg, Suellen Rocca, and Karl Wirsum.

Teaching Pages & Tours

Introduce your students to key works of art on view at MMoCA. Teaching pages may be used to prepare for a museum visit or as an ongoing classroom resource.

Barbara Rossi

Sarah Canright

Bring your students to MMoCA to experience contemporary art first-hand. Learn more about MMoCA’s guided exhibition tours here

The Imagists were a group of figurative artists that emerged in Chicago in the mid-1960s. They employed the comic book, commercial advertising, and the grotesque to render detailed compositions full of color and sexual innuendo. Poking fun at the extreme silhouettes presented in advertisements of the 1950s and 60s, the Imagists created their own exaggerated, warped bodies that playfully mocked the bulging muscles and tiny waistlines of society’s ideal physique. In Oh Dat Sally (1967-68), Nutt’s densely etched line emphasizes the intensity of the nightmarish grooming ritual taking place. The ghoulish Sally wields a sharp blade to shave her body in adherence with the “shiny ‘n nice” standard reinforced in 1960s advertisements as in those for the hair removal product Nair. In the upper-right corner is the suggestive phrase “take it off!!”—one Nutt takes to the extreme; her blade smooths and preens her body to remove any bumps and imperfections to the point where she has no lips, eyes, hands, or feet.

The Imagists toyed with the bizarre images that inspired and confronted them in their everyday lives. Parodying the odd, unrealistic bodily ideals in printed matter resulted in artworks that are a witty commentary on the extreme modifications required to transform the body into the consumer ideal. The works presented in Eye Deal reveal the unhinged oddities of the human form when left to the wild imaginations of this humorous and colorful group of Chicago artists.

Artwork

Shadow. Artist: Sarah Canright. Date: 1969. Medium: oil.

Shadow

1969

Sarah Canright

Learn more about Shadow.
Untitled (Woman Disrobing). Artist: Philip Hanson. Date: 1979. Medium: oil.

Untitled (Woman Disrobing)

1979

Philip Hanson

Learn more about Untitled (Woman Disrobing).
Smart Dressing. Artist: Gladys Nilsson. Date: 1989. Medium: watercolor and gouache.

Smart Dressing

1989

Gladys Nilsson

Learn more about Smart Dressing.
Beautify. Artist: Gladys Nilsson. Date: 1994. Medium: watercolor, gouache, and collage.

Beautify

1994

Gladys Nilsson

Learn more about Beautify.
A Girl in the Arbor #13. Artist: Gladys Nilsson. Date: 2013. Medium: collage with gouache, watercolor, colored pencil, and crayon on paper.

A Girl in the Arbor #13

2013

Gladys Nilsson

Learn more about A Girl in the Arbor #13.
Oh Dat Sally. Artist: Jim Nutt. Date: 1967-68. Medium: etching in black.

Oh Dat Sally

1967-68

Jim Nutt

Learn more about Oh Dat Sally.
SMack SMack. Artist: Jim Nutt. Date: 1968-69. Medium: lithograph in black.

SMack SMack

1968-69

Jim Nutt

Learn more about SMack SMack.
Tudor. Artist: Ed Paschke. Date: 1976. Medium: lithograph in black on paper.

Tudor

1976

Ed Paschke

Learn more about Tudor.
Floating Gloves. Artist: Ed Paschke. Date: 1971. Medium: oil on linen.

Floating Gloves

1971

Ed Paschke

Learn more about Floating Gloves.
Vertical Amnesia. Artist: Christina Ramberg. Date: 1980. Medium: acrylic.

Vertical Amnesia

1980

Christina Ramberg

Learn more about Vertical Amnesia.
Night Light for Little Girl. Artist: Suellen Rocca. Date: 1969. Medium: oil.

Night Light for Little Girl

1969

Suellen Rocca

Learn more about Night Light for Little Girl.
Puzzle Page. Artist: Suellen Rocca. Date: c. 1966. Medium: oil.

Puzzle Page

c. 1966

Suellen Rocca

Learn more about Puzzle Page.
Eye Deal. Artist: Barbara Rossi. Date: 1973. Medium: lithograph in silver-gray on marbleized paper, laid down on paper (chine collé).

Eye Deal

1973

Barbara Rossi

Learn more about Eye Deal.
Eye Deal. Artist: Barbara Rossi. Date: 1974. Medium: acrylic on Plexiglas, reverse painting.

Eye Deal

1974

Barbara Rossi

Learn more about Eye Deal.
Untitled (Head of a Bearded Man). Artist: Karl Wirsum. Date: 1966. Medium: mixed media.

Untitled (Head of a Bearded Man)

1966

Karl Wirsum

Learn more about Untitled (Head of a Bearded Man).
Stork Reality. Artist: Karl Wirsum. Date: 1985. Medium: acrylic.

Stork Reality

1985

Karl Wirsum

Learn more about Stork Reality.

Karl Wirsum, Untitled (Head of a Bearded Man), 1966. Mixed media on paper, 13 3/4 x 10 1/2 inches. Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. The Bill McClain Collection of Chicago Imagism.
Exhibition Sponsors

Exhibitions in the Henry Street Gallery are generously funded through an endowment established by the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation.