Think First, Shoot Later: Photography from the MCA Collection

Images

Rodney Graham, Small Basement Camera Shop circa 1937, 2011. Painted aluminum light box with transmounted chromogenic transparency, edition 3 of 5, aside from 1 artist’s proof; 71 ½ x 71 ½ x 7 in. (181.6 × 181.6 × 17.8 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Mary and Earle Ludgin by exchange in honor of Donald Young, 2012.1. © 2011 Rodney Graham. Image courtesy of Donald Young Gallery, Chicago.
Thomas Ruff, Interieurs 3D, 1980. Chromogenic development print; 20 × 16 ¼ in. (50.8 × 41.3 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of William J. Hokin in honor of the MCA’s 40th anniversary, 2007.29, © 1980 Thomas Ruff.
Thomas Demand, Poll, 2001. Chromogenic development print and Diasec mounted on Plexiglas; 70 × 103 in. (177.8 × 261.6 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, restricted gift of Mr. and Mrs. Sanfred Koltun, 2001.5, © 2001 Thomas Demand, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn/ARS, New York.
Thomas Ruff, Interieurs 10C, 1980. Chromogenic development print; 20 × 16 ¼ in. (50.8 × 41.3 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of William J. Hokin in honor of the MCA’s 40th anniversary, 2007.28, © 1980 Thomas Ruff.
Laurie Simmons, Untitled (Dummy in Stairwell), 1994. Chromogenic development print; sheet: 16 × 20 in. (40.6 × 50.8 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Lannan Foundation, 1997.63.
Thomas Ruff, Interieurs 9B, 1980. Chromogenic development print; 20 × 16 ¼ in. (50.8 × 41.3 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of William J. Hokin in honor of the MCA’s 40th anniversary, 2007.27, © 1980 Thomas Ruff.
Thomas Ruff, Porträt (H. Haussman), 1988. Chromogenic development print; 83 × 65 in. (210.8 × 165.1 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Gerald S. Elliott Collection, 1995.91, © 1988 Thomas Ruff.
Bernd and Hilla Becher, Cooling Towers, 1983. Gelatin silver prints; twelve parts, each: 20 × 16 in. (50.8 × 40.6 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Gerald S. Elliott Collection, 1995.31.a–l, © 1983 Bernd and Hilla Becher.
Thomas Demand, Labor, 2000. Chromogenic development print and Diasec; 71 × 105 ½ in. (180.3 × 268 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift from The Howard and Donna Stone Collection, 2002.18, © 2000 Thomas Demand, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn/ARS, New York.
Jeff Wall, In front of a nightclub, 2006. Color transparency and light box; 90 1/8 × 143 ¼ in. (229 × 364 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Katherine S. Schamberg by exchange, 2006.30. © 2006 Jeff Wall. Image courtesy the artist.
Thomas Ruff, Interieurs 1D, 1980. Chromogenic development print; 16 ¼ x 20 in. (41.3 × 50.8 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of William J. Hokin in honor of the MCA’s 40th anniversary, 2007.30, © 1980 Thomas Ruff.
Matthew Barney, Cremaster 2: The Drone’s Cell, 1999. Chromogenic development print in acrylic frame; 43 × 54 in. (109.2 × 137.2 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift from The Howard and Donna Stone Collection, 2002.7, © 1999 Mathew Barney.

About

MCA Chicago’s in-depth photography holdings trace their trajectory back to the late 1960s, when the medium was reinvigorated under the influence of conceptual art. As in other areas of artistic activity during this period, a previous generation’s fixation on spontaneity, instinct, and truth to materials was questioned and ultimately replaced in photography by an interest in mass media and industrial reproduction, a skepticism of creative genius, and an uncertainty about any easy notion of truth. While modern photography in the first half of the twentieth century may have been guided largely by the “decisive moment,” after the 1960s, much of the photographic work circulating in the fine art realm could be characterized as highly premeditated, systematic, and staged: in other words, this work embodies an ethos of “think first, shoot later.”

Composed mostly of works from the MCA Collection and supplemented by loans from the Chicago community, Think First, Shoot Later examines many of the defining artists and themes in conceptual photography over the past four decades, including numerous examples from the so-called Dusseldorf School of photography, by artists such as Thomas Ruff, Andreas Gursky, and Thomas Struth; the Vancouver School, by Jeff Wall, Rodney Graham, and Stan Douglas; and by feminist artists of the 1970s such as Cindy Sherman, Lorna Simpson, and Ana Mendieta; as well as by a highly diverse range of artists such as James Welling, Wolfgang Tillmans, Torbjorn Rodland, and Elad Lassry, who borrow freely across the range of photographic possibilities. As a whole, Think First, Shoot Later not only offers a glimpse at the broad holdings of the MCA Collection but also gives audiences a sense of some of the most dominant issues defining the field of photography today.

This exhibition is organized by Michael Darling, James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator, with assistance from Kristin Korolowicz, Marjorie Susman Curatorial Fellow, at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Installation Images

Installation view, Think First, Shoot Later: Photography from the MCA Collection, May 18–Nov 10, 2013. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Think First, Shoot Later: Photography from the MCA Collection, May 18–Nov 10, 2013. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Think First, Shoot Later: Photography from the MCA Collection, May 18–Nov 10, 2013. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Think First, Shoot Later: Photography from the MCA Collection, May 18–Nov 10, 2013. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Think First, Shoot Later: Photography from the MCA Collection, May 18–Nov 10, 2013. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Think First, Shoot Later: Photography from the MCA Collection, May 18–Nov 10, 2013. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Think First, Shoot Later: Photography from the MCA Collection, May 18–Nov 10, 2013. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Think First, Shoot Later: Photography from the MCA Collection, May 18–Nov 10, 2013. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Think First, Shoot Later: Photography from the MCA Collection, May 18–Nov 10, 2013. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Think First, Shoot Later: Photography from the MCA Collection, May 18–Nov 10, 2013. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Think First, Shoot Later: Photography from the MCA Collection, May 18–Nov 10, 2013. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Think First, Shoot Later: Photography from the MCA Collection, May 18–Nov 10, 2013. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Think First, Shoot Later: Photography from the MCA Collection, May 18–Nov 10, 2013. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Think First, Shoot Later: Photography from the MCA Collection, May 18–Nov 10, 2013. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Think First, Shoot Later: Photography from the MCA Collection, May 18–Nov 10, 2013. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Think First, Shoot Later: Photography from the MCA Collection, May 18–Nov 10, 2013. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Think First, Shoot Later: Photography from the MCA Collection, May 18–Nov 10, 2013. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

Funding

Support for Think First, Shoot Later: Photography from the MCA Collection is generously provided by the Pritzker Traubert Collection Exhibition Fund. Additional generous support is provided by Danielle and Marty Zimmerman, Vicki and Bill Hood, Helyn Goldenberg in honor of Michael Alper, and Suzette and Allan Bulley.

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