A new exhibit at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art promises to stir comment and pull-in crowds.
Exhibitions often focus on a single artist or movement but MCA’s Productions Site: The Artist’s Studio Inside-Out, opening Feb. 6, gives viewers a rare glance inside a personal space: the place an artist creates the artwork.
Five large panels hung in the lobby immediately pull visitors into how Chicago artist Deb Sokolow views her personal space and the fictional and real world outside her door.
A timeline, also in the lobby, reminds viewers that artists such as Vermeer, Rembrandt and Jackson Pollock allowed glimpses into their private work space in paintings of their studios.
The exhibition then takes guests into actual and fancifully reconstructed and deconstructed work spaces through the medium of film, paintings, real studio walls and polyurethane objects.
“I wanted to go back to the basics,” said curator Dominic Molon. He explained that the exhibit grew out of a conversation he and MCA Director Madeleine Grynsztejn had on how the art world has become increasingly directed towards consumption and presentation
“I thought there was a real need to focus on production: the influences, the surroundings, not the marketing and about how art is made, not how it is sold,” Molon said.
Visitors see the production space of renowned artist Kerry James Marshall whose photograph, The Black Artist (Studio View), shows the artist reflected in his painting 7am Sunday Morning. The painting is also in the exhibit because it shows his studio’s Chicago neighborhood.
In Andrea Zittel’s Rough Furniture: Energetic Accumulator Assortment III, the acclaimed artist shows how a studio acts as a staging site for artworks and how her works are influenced by her surroundings in Joshua Tree, CA.
In another installation, Mapping the Studio ll, a video reveals what occurs in New Mexican artist Bruce Nauman’s studio after he or other humans leave.
To better understand the artist and the production process, the exhibit focuses on surroundings: the neighborhoods, tools and other objects that influence production.
“Where they work may show a different side and give more insight into the artists than even their work might do,” said Molon who has visited artists’ studios as a curator interested in exhibiting the works.
“It is interesting to see what inspires an artist, what music the person plays, what CDs are on the shelf, what images are on the walls,” he said. Molon added, “An artist’s studio is such a unique space. It is for work but at end of day it is also personal and private.”
Productions Site: The Artist’s Studio Inside-Out is Feb. 6 to May 30 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago, 312-280-2662
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