Friday, September 19, 2014 – Sunday, January 4, 2015
Chace Center Galleries
Design the Night opening celebration, September 18, 5-9 pm
Free, all welcome
What Nerve! Alternative Figures in American Art, 1960 to the Present proposes an alternate history of figurative painting, sculpture, and vernacular image-making from 1960 to the present that has been largely overlooked and undervalued. At the heart of What Nerve! are four mini-exhibitions based on crucial shows, spaces, and groups in Chicago (the Hairy Who), San Francisco (Funk), Ann Arbor (Destroy All Monsters), and Providence (Forcefield)—places outside the artistic focal point of New York. These moments are linked together by six influential or intersecting artists: H. C. Westermann, Jack Kirby, William Copley, Christina Ramberg, Gary Panter, and Elizabeth Murray.
All of these artists ran against the modernist grain and its emphasis on theory. Rather than distancing their art through irony or institutional critique, the artists in What Nerve! seized imagery and ideas from vernacular sources as diverse as comics and pottery, pulling and reshaping material from their environments to tackle a variety of subjects with equal doses of satire and sincerity. What Nerve! looks at their distinctive idioms, shown in works that are often earnest, sometimes narrative, frequently transgressive, and always individualistic.
What Nerve! includes
Explicit sexual imagery Parent/adult discretion is advised
Flashing lights Exercise appropriate caution
Fragile and exposed works of art Please do not touch
What Nerve! is supported by a grant from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. The exhibition’s fully illustrated book (D.A.P., 2014) is published with the support of the Dedalus Foundation, Inc.
Programs & Events
Design the Night opening celebration
Thursday, September 18, 2014 | 5-9 pm | free
Critical Encounters with Body, Place, and Time
Friday, September 19, 2014 | 1-4 pm | free
Gallery conversations with artists, curators, and art historians explore key issues emerging from What Nerve!
Screenings: Hairy Who & The Chicago Imagists
Sundays, September 21 and October 12, 2014 | 2-4 pm | free
“An ambitious revisionist history of later 20th-century art. What Nerve! Alternative Figures in American Art, 1960 to the Present gives pride of place to misfit artistic subcultures that mainstream institutions have long ignored.” — Art in America
“The show features the wacky, often comic-book-esque work of four art movements or collectives: the Bay Area ‘Funk’ artists, the Hairy Who from Chicago, Destroy All Monsters of Ann Arbor, and Forcefield from Providence.” — ARTnews
“Chicago’s Imagists in the Spotlight” — Wall Street Journal