Georgia O'Keeffe on Art on the Mart

This summer, Chicago museums are hosting an unusually high number of premieres, from older artists receiving due recognition for their little-explored histories to emerging talents making their local debuts.

“Chryssa & New York”: The Athens-born artist, who caused a sensation in the 1960s with her experiments with neon, advertising signs and industrial materials, is being revived in art history with her first major American exhibition since 1982. On display are 62 sculptures that dissect language and anticipate the innovations of minimalism and pop art, and are jointly organized by the Dia Art Foundation and the Menil Collection. Until July 27 at Wrightwood 659, 659 W. Wrightwood Ave., 773-437-6601 and

“Christina Ramberg: A Retrospective”: Some of the craziest and funniest artworks created in Chicago in the 1970s were Ramberg's carefully painted female body parts, from severely coiffed heads to lace-corseted torsos. Less well known are her experimental quilts of the '80s and the dark geometries she created before her untimely death at age 49. All of this, plus personal archives, are included in the first comprehensive exhibition of her work in 30 years. Until August 11 at the Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave., 312-443-3600 and

“Opening Passages: Photographers react to Chicago and Paris”: Dynamic social landscapes are the chosen theme for the 10 artists – five American, five French – in this multi-site exhibition. Highlights include Sasha Phyars-Burgess' efforts to teach traditional darkroom techniques to the residents of Clichy-sous-Bois, Marzena Abrahamik's chronicle of reverse migration between Poland and Chicago, and Rebecca Topakian's research on the ring-necked parakeets that arrived in France in a cargo accident at an airport. Until August 25 at the Chicago Cultural Center and other venues; for more information visit

“Nicole Eisenman: What Happened”: The title of this first major exhibition about one of the most famous figurative painters of the last two decades contains no question mark; her compositions are statements, not questions. More than 100 large and small canvases as well as some bizarre sculptures reveal her anarchic and ironic view of people and our current way of life. Until September 22 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave., 312-280-2660 and

“What is visible and what is invisible”: Guest curator Shelly Bahl traces the under-documented history of South Asian American art in Chicago, from the Indian Pavilion at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition to the rising interest in Asian antiques in the 1920s, '30s, and '40s to contemporary artists working in the city today, including Brendan Fernandes, Kushala Vora, and Sayera Anwar. Until October 26 at the South Asia Institute, 1925 S. Michigan Ave., 312-929-3911,

“The United Colors of Robert Earl Paige”: The 87-year-old Woodlawn resident is getting his biggest exhibition yet, full of new clay sculptures, cardboard collages, a lush mural and decades of iconic fabric designs that fuse Bauhaus modernism with West African symbolism and Chicago jazz. “Parapluie,” a side show, includes the work of Paige's “Umbrella,” a group of makers who create in tune with his own love of pattern, color and purpose. Until October 27 at the Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave., 773-324-5520 and

“Georgia O'Keeffe: 'My New Yorks'”: Before she became famous for her flowers and Southwestern landscapes, O'Keeffe lived on the 30th floor of a Midtown Manhattan apartment building. From there, she began a series of fascinatingly modern paintings of skyscrapers, smokestacks along the East River, and other haunting urban sights. “My New Yorks,” as she called them, are seriously examined here for the first time, amid her abstractions and still lifes of the 1920s and early 1930s. June 2 to September 22 at the Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave., 312-443-3600 and

“Art on the Market: Cory Arcangel and Yinka Illori”: Arcangel rose to fame over 20 years ago when he irreverently reprogrammed the Super Mario Brothers video game, eliminating all elements except the clouds. Illori runs a studio that designs hilarious graphics, products and spaces for clients from Kent to Courvoisier VSOP. Whatever these two artists do in their newly commissioned videos will be colourful, clever, free to watch and very, very big. The show will be broadcast nightly across the 2.5-acre Merchandise Mart facade, one of the largest digital art screens in the world. June 6 to September 11 at Art on the Mart, best viewed from the Riverwalk on Wacker Drive between Wells Street and Franklin Street; for more information visit

“Teresa Baker: Shift in the Clouds”: Truly contemporary painting is something like what Baker paints on large, sculpted pieces of colored artificial turf, embellished with yarn, buffalo hide, artificial sinew, corn leaves, and other materials. It evokes maps and shadows, the northern plains where she grew up, the Los Angeles where she currently lives, her Mandan/Hidatsa culture, and so much more, both real and impossible. June 26 to August 16 at the Arts Club of Chicago, 201 E. Ontario St., 312-787-3997 and

“Vanessa German”: The self-described citizen artist has been living at the University of Chicago since January, working with local communities and their objects to create a new series of “Power Figures,” sculptures that combine Black Power, spirituality, mysticism, and feminism in ways that are as clever and delicate as they are comic and daring. They will be on display in her solo show, preachily titled “There is a bridge at the end of this reality – the bridge is in you, but not in your body. Take that bridge to the next ______, all your friends are there; death is not real and we are all DJs.” July 19 to December 15 at the Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St., 773-834-8377 and

Anna Harden

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