West by Midwest

Edward Ruscha and Billy Al Bengston, Business Cards, 1968. Offset on paper with business card and gold-backed paper stapled on final page; punched and tied with leather cord with silver gelatin print and photo corners adhered to wood-grained Bristol board; 7 1/16 × 5 9/16 in. (18 × 14 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, National Endowment for the Arts Museum Purchase Grant and gift of the Men’s Council, 2012.84. © Ed Ruscha and Billy Al Bengston. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Senga Nengudi, R.S.V.P. Fall 1976, 1976/2017. Nylon mesh, sand, and pins; 41 × 19 ½ x 2 ½ in. (104.1 × 49.5 × 6.4 cm). © Senga Nengudi. Photo: Elisabeth Bernstein, courtesy Lévy Gorvy and Thomas Erben Gallery.
Rebecca Morris, Untitled (#04-04), 2004. Oil and spray paint on canvas; 82 5/8 × 73 ½ × 2 5/8 in. (209.8 × 186.7 × 6.8 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Burt Aaron in honor of Shane Campbell Gallery, 2005.3. © 2004 Rebecca Morris. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Bruce Nauman, Mold for a Modernized Slant Step, 1966. Plaster; installed: 18 ¼ × 14 ½ × 13 3/8 in. (46.4 × 36.8 × 34 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Gerald S. Elliott Collection, 1995.70.a–b. © 2018 Bruce Nauman/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Catherine Opie, Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer (Lake Michigan), 2004–05. Chromogenic development prints; 4 prints, each: 49 ¼ × 39 ¼ in. (125.1 × 99.7 cm); framed: 51 × 41 × 2 in. (129.5 × 104.1 × 5.1 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Joseph and Jory Shapiro Fund by exchange, 2006.1.a–d. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.


West by Midwest tells a story about how contemporary art spreads and develops through the collaboration, competition, and friendship among artists. Anchored by works in the MCA’s collection, the exhibition focuses on artists with ties to the American Midwest, many of whom moved to the West Coast to pursue their careers from the late 1940s to the 2000s. Artists who were able to migrate brought friends with them, attended art schools together, shared studio spaces, showed in the same galleries, collaborated on projects, and formed bonds with other artists who relocated from the Midwest. Out of these connections emerged important social networks, profoundly shaping contemporary artistic practices and art history.

West by Midwest is organized by Charlotte Ickes, Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow. An extensive microsite accompanies the exhibition. It is presented in the Griffin Galleries of Contemporary Art.


Lead support for West by Midwest is provided by Karyn and Bill Silverstein.