Above, Before & After

Images

  • A black box containing an image of white box is mounted on the side of a thick black frame. The entire piece is intersected by a horizontal blue line, which appears to be painter's tape.
  • Small white circles connected by thin wire balance opposite a thicker orange wire weighted by an orange rudder-like shape hanging from the edge of a white table.
  • Two narrow glowing rectangles depicting a man illuminate a pitch-black room. The horizontal box on the right hangs high on the wall; the other leans vertically against the wall to the left.
A black box containing an image of white box is mounted on the side of a thick black frame. The entire piece is intersected by a horizontal blue line, which appears to be painter's tape.
Edward Krasinski, Interwencja (Intervention), 1983. Acrylic on wood with blue adhesive tape; wooden panel: 39 7/16 × 37 7/8 × 5 7/16 in. (100.2 × 96.2 × 13.8 cm); installed dimensions variable, Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, purchased jointly by Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago with funds provided by Mary and Earle Ludgin by exchange, and by the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York by Roy R. and Marie S. Neuberger Foundation Inc.; The Cynthia Hazen Polsky Fund. 2014.37. Courtesy of Paulina Krasinska and Foksal Gallery Foundation, Warsaw.
Small white circles connected by thin wire balance opposite a thicker orange wire weighted by an orange rudder-like shape hanging from the edge of a white table.
Alexander Calder, Orange Under Table, c. 1949. Sheet metal, paint, metal rods, and steel wire; diameter: 72 × 82 in. (182.9 × 208.3 cm). The Leonard and Ruth Horwich Family Loan, EL1995.11. © 2016 Calder Foundation, New York/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Two narrow glowing rectangles depicting a man illuminate a pitch-black room. The horizontal box on the right hangs high on the wall; the other leans vertically against the wall to the left.
  1. Long You stand in a pitch-black room illuminated by two long, rectangular light boxes that glow white and are hung on opposite sides. The one on the right is hung up high, horizontal to the ceiling. The one on the left is oriented vertically and rests on the floor, leaning against the wall. It casts a reflection on the floor. At one end of each box is a photograph of the same man. He is old, with washed-out skin and an angular face, grey hair, and shadowed eyes. At the far left of the horizontal box, we see a cropped image of his solemn face. In the vertical box, he is positioned at the bottom. Wearing white, loose-fitting clothes, he appears to sit cross-legged on the ground.
Alfredo Jaar, Cries and Whispers, 1988. Duratrans and light boxes; two parts, each: 18 × 96 × 7 in. (45.7 × 243.8 × 17.8 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Howard and Donna Stone, 1996.7.a–b. © 1988 Alfredo Jaar. Courtesy of Galerie LeLong, New York. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
John McCracken, Untitled, 1967. Fiberglass, polyester resin, and wood; 96 3/16 × 10 1/8 × 3 1/8 in. (244.2 × 56.4 × 7.9 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Ileana Sonnabend, 1984.53. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Lorna Simpson, Flipside, 1991. Gelatin silver prints and Plexiglas plaque, edition 3 of 3; installed: 51 ¼ x 69 ¾ in. (130.2 × 177.2 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift from The Howard and Donna Stone Collection, 2002.62.a–c. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

The artists featured in Above, Before & After manipulate form and space to explore the relationship between art and the viewer. Selected from the MCA’s collection, the works—rarely exhibited together—were created over the span of more than 60 years in response to diverse historical and social contexts. Collectively, however, these pieces prompt a larger conversation that asks viewers to consider that art objects often achieve their fullest value when viewers approach them from multiple angles.

The exhibition’s mix of two- and three-dimensional works include the MCA’s newly acquired Edward Krasinski’s Interwencja (Intervention) (1983), as well as collection highlights by artists John Baldessari, Alexander Calder, Alfredo Jaar, John McCracken, Bruce Nauman, Lorna Simpson, and Takis. Whether explicitly political, as in Jaar’s sculpture, which draws upon histories of undocumented workers in the United States, or subtly expressed in Calder’s mobiles that activate color and line through their kinetic qualities, these works occupy spaces—imagined and real. When artists repurpose the doorframes, ceilings, and corners of the art museum, viewers are encouraged to question what they see—the artwork, the white walls, and the very ground they encounter.

This exhibition is organized by Michael Darling, James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator, and Faye Gleisser, Marjorie Susman Curatorial Fellow.

The exhibition is presented in the McCormick Tribune Orientation Gallery on the museum's second floor.

Installation Images

  • Several mobile sculptures in various shapes rest on pedestals or hang from the ceiling in front of a large multipaneled black-and-white photograph in a white-walled gallery.
Several mobile sculptures in various shapes rest on pedestals or hang from the ceiling in front of a large multipaneled black-and-white photograph in a white-walled gallery.
Installation view, Above, Before, and After, MCA Chicago, May 7, 2016–Apr 16, 2017. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Above, Before, and After, MCA Chicago, May 7, 2016–Apr 16, 2017. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Above, Before, and After, MCA Chicago, May 7, 2016–Apr 16, 2017. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Above, Before, and After, MCA Chicago, May 7, 2016–Apr 16, 2017. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Above, Before, and After, MCA Chicago, May 7, 2016–Apr 16, 2017. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

text

The artists featured in Above, Before & After include:

John Baldessari (American, b. 1931)
Alexander Calder (American, 1898–1976)
Alfredo Jaar (Chilean, b. 1956)
Edward Krasiński (Polish, 1925–2004)
John McCracken (American, 1934–2011)
Bruce Nauman (American, b. 1941)
Michelangelo Pistoletto (Italian, b. 1933)
Takis (Greek, b. 1925)