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The Body Present: Effigies, Decoys, and Other Equivalents


A bust of a dark-skinned person is holding a short, narrow pole while looking over their right shoulder. The bust appears to be dusted with cobalt-blue powder.

John Ahearn, Clyde, 1981. Acrylic on plaster and wood; 26 1/2 x 23 x 10 in. (67.3 x 58.4 x 25.4 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Lannan Foundation, 1997.17

Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

Magdalena Abakanowicz, Cage, 1981. Burlap, glue, and wood; back: 27 ¼ x 23 ¼ x 26 3/8 in. (69.2 x 59 x 67 cm), cage: 66 x 46 x 61 in. (167.6 x 116.8 x 155 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Ralph I. and Helyn D. Goldenberg, 1982.37.a–b. © 1981 Magdalena Abakanowicz

Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago


Drawing from the MCA Collection and including key loans, this exhibition addresses sculptural figuration over the past 30 years, particularly with works that somehow encroach upon or share one's personal space, drawing the visitor into the realm of the object through life-scale or objective representation. The exhibition reveals how, through this cohabitation of space and the resulting give-and-take between the object and viewer, the object conveys a disquieting sense of both human presence and human absence. The Body Present includes works by Magdalena Abakanowicz, John Ahearn, Stephan Balkenhol, Joseph Beuys, Tom Czarnopys, John De Andrea, Ken Fandell, Joe Litzenberger, Marisol, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Marc Quinn, and George Segal.


This exhibition is generously sponsored by Ruth Horwich.