“Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago” sheds new light on Chicago’s rich collections

The Block Museum is proud to be among the many Chicago collections with work on view in Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

Loans from The Block collection to the exhibition include; the abstract painting One (1970) by Sam Gilliam; Monochrome und Feuer (1961), a silkscreen triptych by Yves Klein; and the photograph Untitled (Nomsa Brath with earrings designed by Carolee Prince (1964) by Kwame Brathwaite. These loans are among almost 350 works selected by curator Duro Olowu from public and private institutions throughout the city.

The exhibition juxtaposes different movements and historical contexts alongside one another, capturing the breadth of Chicago collections through the lens of a curious observer or visitor from another place. Speaking with WWD Magazine the London-based designer described the incredible collections he encountered in the city, “The museums here have collections on par with the biggest art capitals of the world.”

In addition to The Block Museum of Art, lenders to the exhibition include Art Institute of Chicago, Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art and the South Side Community Art Center. Olowu seek to reimagine relationships between artists and objects across time, media, and geography. Moving away from traditional exhibition formats, Olowu combines photographs, paintings, sculptures, and films in dense and textural scenes that incorporate his own work.

One is featured among work by Alma Thomas, Ed Clark, Miyoko Ito, Fred Eversley, Martin Puryear, and Mildred Thompson in an exhibition section titled Toward Abstraction.

‘This room is really about the power of shape, whether it’s three dimensional or not, and the power of color, in all its glorious mixes, to inspire the viewer to think about this creative. experimental exercise that artists have undertaken. To create works that we at once opaque and not obvious, but at the same time extremely powerful in the message it conveys about the state of the world and about life.”

Duro Olowu
Sam Gilliam, (American, born 1933), 1970, Acrylic on unstretched canvas, 116 1/4 × 67 1/4 in. (295.3 × 170.8 cm), installed: 92 × 67 in. (233.7 × 170.2 cm), Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University, gift of the Collection of Walter A. Netsch and Dawn Clark Netsch.
Yves Klein (French, 1928–1962) Monochrome und Feuer, 1961 Color silkscreens and gold leaf on cardstock (triptych) frame: 35 3/4 x 18 x 1 1/8 inches each sheet: 9 x 12 3/8 inches Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University, gift of Bill and Sheila Lambert, 2014.7.
Kwame Brathwaite (American, born 1938) Untitled (Nomsa Brath with earrings designed by Carolee Prince), 1964, printed 2017 Inkjet print Edition 2/5 30 x 30 inches Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University, gift of the Allen-Niesen Family: Kim, Keith, Kelsey, and Kyle, 2019.13.1

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