Making the Modern Image: Mid-Century Commercial Industry In Chicago [Video]

The EXPO Chicago /Dialogues series features discussions and provocative discourse with artists, curators, and professionals on the current issues that engage them. On September 28, 2018. The Block Museum was proud to take part in a dialogue that included panelists Theaster Gates (Artist | Rebuild Foundation), Corinne Granof (Curator of Academic Programs, Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University). Amy Beste (Director of Public Programs, Department of Film, Video New Media and Animation, SAIC), and Lara Allison (Lecturer, Art History, Theory and Criticism, School of the Art Institute of Chicago). The panel was moderated by Michael Golec (Associate Professor, Art History, Theory and Criticism, SAIC).

Through recent exhibitions that relate the advertising and commercial publications industries to the context of contemporary art, this discussion traced Chicago’s contribution to the glossy image that defined the Mid-Century aesthetic. Tracing the political, social, and cultural impact of these design philosophies, this panel looked at the national impact of firms and companies whose work pushed industry boundaries through avant-garde approaches. Under what conditions did these methods co-exist within the Mid-Century moment?

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Featuring Theaster Gates, whose recent exhibition A Johnson Publishing Story at the Rebuild Foundation explores the enduring role of Ebony and Jet magazines in defining and popularizing a black aesthetic and identity around the globe; Corinne Granof and Amy Beste on the work of Goldsholl and Associates, whose films, television ads, and other moving image work innovated “designs-in-film” influenced by László Moholy-Nagy and the Bauhaus approach; and historian Lara Allison, speaking on the seminal legacy of the Great Ideas campaign by the Container Corporation from 1950–80. This discussion, moderated by Michael Golec,  examined the many contributions of Chicago’s enduring impact on a national and international aesthetic. Up is Down: Mid-Century Experiments in Advertising and Film at the Goldsholl Studio at the Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University is on view from September 18–December 9, 2018 and A Johnson Publishing Story Curated by Theaster Gates at the Rebuild Foundation’s Stony Island Arts Bank was extended through September 30, to align with EXPO ART WEEK.

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