Drawing from its rich holdings of Chicago School art, MMoCA presents an exhibition devoted to the work of Ellen Lanyon, a celebrated painter and printmaker who grew up in Chicago and graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1948. Lanyon’s work embodies a unique combination of the surreal and fantastic imagery characteristic of the Chicago-based Monster Roster of the 1950s, and the eccentric figuration and meticulous detail favored by the Chicago Imagists, whose work dominated the Chicago art scene in the later 1960s and 70s. Curious Worlds: The Art of Ellen Lanyonwill be on view in the museum’s State Street Gallery from December 5, 2015 through April 17, 2016.
Curious Worlds focuses on a body of work created between 1969 and 1984 that Lanyon named “Magic.” Blending realism and surrealism, she created imaginative still lives that defy logic. These paintings and prints bring together a diverse animal world, a resplendent nature, and personal curios and collectibles—all of which interact in unexpected ways. Always informing her compositions is a sense of metamorphosis and transformation, of a continuously changing world around us that Lanyon poeticizes and imbues with the mythic.