Dennis Adrian

1937–2018

About

The MCA recently lost a good friend and former collection committee member, the noted art historian Dennis Adrian. As MCA curator Lynne Warren notes, "I really can't imagine what the Chicago art scene would look right now if it wasn't for Dennis's influence. He wasn't just a champion of the local scene, and in particular the Hyde Park Art Center artists that came out as groups like the Hairy Who and the Non-Plussed Some, he was friends with them." Dennis's enthusiasm for the artists who became known as the Imagists helped solidify their place in art history and his mentorship of Chicago-based collectors, whose acquisitions often became gifts to museums across the United States, helped to establish Chicago in the global art world.

Dennis was a regular contributor to Artforum and ARTnews and authored many books and essays, including a contribution to the exhibition catalogue and catalogue raisonne for the MCA's monumental H. C. Westermann exhibition. His legacy is best immortalized at the MCA in the choice artworks he donated to the museum as well as two works inspired by him in our collection: Ed Paschke’s Adria (1976) and Arnold Crane’s Dennis Adrian (1981).

A casually posed black-and-white group photo of sixteen smiling people, some looking at one another as if in conversation. The central figure looks directly at us with a slight smile.
Dennis Adrian with a group of Chicago Imagist artists on the occasion of Selections from the Dennis Adrian Collection, January 15–March 14, 1982. Photo © MCA Chicago.