Jump to content

Contested Territory


Albert Oehlen, Pro Brown, 2006. Acrylic and oil on canvas; 70 7/8 x 59 in. (180 x 149.8 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Daniel Fischel and Sylvia Neil, 2010.17. © 2006 Albert Oehlen

Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

Leon Golub, Reclining Youth, 1959. Lacquer on canvas; 78 3/4 x 163 1/2 in. (200 x 415.3 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of the Susan and Lewis Manilow Collection of Chicago Artists, 1979.52

Photo: © MCA Chicago


All genres of art—whether painting, sculpture, photography, or even video—come to a point in their histories where so much has been done and so much has been achieved that it is a challenge for artists to find new approaches that allow us to see them afresh. It is exactly this challenge that motivates many artists and sets apart true innovation and commitment. Such struggles are frequently visible in the objects themselves, where the process and material involved in the making of the work are inextricably entangled with the commentary or content. This exhibition, using works drawn from the MCA Collection, explores the continued conversation between history and present as well as the artist’s ongoing duel with tradition as they test themselves, their materials, and the tradition of painting to keep it relevant and alive.

This exhibition was organized by Michael Darling, James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator.