Paul Durica, Pocket Guide to Hell's Haymarket Reenactment, 2011. Photo: Yoni Goldstein

A Proximity of Consciousness:
Art and Social Action

September 20–December 20
Reception: Friday, September 19, 6:00–9:00 p.m.

Sullivan Galleries, 33 S. State St., 7th floor

At the core of Chicago’s intellectual and creative life stand these influential artists for whom this city itself was a springboard for a new way of thinking about art at the intersection of society. Their work has influenced generations, having made social practice a worldwide phenomenon. Now this exhibition brings their ideas alive through 10 newly commissioned projects. Exhibiting artists: Jim DuignanPablo Helguera (BFA 1993), Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle (MFA 1985), Dan Peterman, Pocket Guide to HellJ. Morgan Puett (MFA 1984), Michael Rakowitz, Tamms Year Ten and Laurie Jo Reynolds (MFA 2000), Temporary Services, and Rirkrit Tiravanija (MFA 1986).

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Joseph Beuys's lecture at SAIC in 1974. Photo © 2012 Klaus Staeck and Gerhard Steidl

Joseph Beuys
Untitled (Sun State), 1974

Through January 25, 2015
The Art Institute of Chicago, Modern Wing, Gallery 294, 159 E. Monroe St.

An advocate for the transformative potential of art through what he termed “social sculpture,” Joseph Beuys made his first trip to the United States in 1974, with the purpose of promoting his Free International University. He spoke at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago during his American tour, where he was met with an enthusiastic reception and a lively exchange. This chalkboard, created during that lecture-performance, maps the connections Beuys perceived between the spiritual, social, and natural worlds. This work returns to Chicago on the 40th anniversary of the artist’s historic trip, on loan from the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

German curator and author Leonhard Emmerling will speak about Beuys’ Free International University on Monday, November 10, 6:00 p.m., at the Goethe-Institut, 150 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 200. 

This presentation is made possible with generous support by the Goethe-Institut Chicago and the Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany, and in collaboration with the Art Institute of Chicago.


GI_Logo_vertical_green_sRGB     Federal Foreign Office (color)
Max Gimblett, A Glimpse of the Ox, 2009. Courtesy of the Gund Gallery

Oxherding: A Buddhist Parable

October 3–November 8
Sullivan Galleries, 33 S. State St., 7th floor

Oxherding is based on a medieval Chinese Buddhist parable of self-discovery comprised of pictures and verse. The original Chinese poems tell of a herder who searches for an elusive ox.  Combined with images, these texts serve as an instructional tool, guiding Zen monks through successive stages of awareness toward enlightenment.

This contemporary American version— created by painter Max Gimblett and author Lewis Hyde—consists of ten ink drawings, ten poems with prefaces, and jointly produced artist books.

Begun in 2002 and completed in 2010, Hyde started by gathering existing translations and made his own first drafts, “translating from English to English.”  Working with a specialist adviser, he then moved character by character through the Chinese poems until he understood how they were constructed and what they had to say.  Finally, he produced three English versions: a “one-word ox” (one English word per Chinese character), a “spare-sense ox” (each Chinese syntactic unit put into a simple English sentence), and an “American ox” which takes considerable liberties while trying to be faithful to Hyde’s intuitions about the meaning of the series.

Gimblett, a Zen lay monk and student of Jungian psychology who has long viewed artistic creation as a form of meditation, brings an open mind and heart to the practice of ink drawing.  Using a Chinese brush loaded with Japanese ink, he made these images rapidly, in “one breath,” working from left to right across the handmade American paper.  Unlike the traditional Oxherding pictures, Gimblett’s drawings are not illustrations, but rather embodiments of his spiritual connection to the themes of the series.

Oxherding has been organized for tour by the Gund Gallery at Kenyon College and previously shown there and at the Japan Society, New York, where the exhibition originated.