Seeing Is a Kind of Thinking: A Jim Nutt Companion



Further solidifying Jim Nutt’s stature as an internationally significant artist, Jim Nutt: Coming Into Character provides an excellent opportunity to expand the artistic framework in which to consider his work beyond Chicago’s Hairy Who. While Coming Into Character offers a focused look at Nutt’s portrait busts of the last 20 years, revealing precedents in Nutt’s early works, this companion exhibition takes a much broader approach, delving into the rich and varied visual and cultural universe that has informed Nutt’s work and that of his peers. The exhibition also includes work by a younger generation of artists, such as Carroll Dunham, Mike Kelley, Eric Lebofsky, and Sue Williams, who have been directly inspired by Nutt.

Based on the MCA Collection, and augmented with loans from private collections, Seeing Is a Kind of Thinking includes work by more than 50 contemporary artists that resonates—either formally or through its subject matter—with aspects of Nutt’s work. The exhibition is organized into four thematic sections that examine how artists look to comics, folk art, and non-Western art as source material; representations of surrealist psycho-sexual dramas; the traditional portrait bust genre; and an architectural approach to materials that oscillates between 2D drawings and 3D forms.

Nutt’s voracious appetite for art history, surrealism, non-Western artifacts, baroque opera, new wave cinema, and comics provides the inspiration for the exhibition’s dense hanging. The result is a visual encyclopedia that suggests sources beyond contemporary art to show how artists today use all manner of visual and cultural material for inspiration, and in dialogue with other forms, to create their own dynamic visual language.

Artists represented in the exhibition include: Tomma Abts, Francis Bacon, Enrico Baj, Don Baum, Hans Bellmer, Phyllis Bramson, Victor Brauner, Chuck Close, George Condo, William Copley, Aaron Curry, Dominick Di Meo, Carroll Dunham, Oyvind Fahlstrom, James Falconer, Tony Fitzpatrick, John Graham, Art Green, Leon Golub, Theodore Halkin, Miyoko Ito, Rashid Johnson, Mike Kelley, Jeff Koons, Wifredo Lam, Eric Lebofsky, Richard Lindner, Robert Lostutter, Jim Lutes, Rene Magritte, Margherita Manzelli, Kerry James Marshall, Matta, Wangechi Mutu, Bruce Nauman, Rachel Niffenegger, Gladys Nilsson, Paul Nudd, Jim Nutt, Ed Paschke, Lari Pittman, Christina Ramberg, Martin Ramirez, Richard Rezac, Suellen Rocca, Kay Rosen, Peter Saul, Cindy Sherman, Diane Simpson, Steven Urry, Chris Ware, Andy Warhol, H. C. Westermann, Karl Wirsum, Frances Whitehead, Sue Williams, Scottie Wilson, Joseph Yoakum, Ray Yoshida, and Claire Zeisler.

The exhibition is curated by Julie Rodrigues Widholm, MCA Pamela Alper Associate Curator.

Installation images


American Airlines
Official Airline of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago