Took a quick jaunt to Northern Illinois and Chicago this weekend for the holiday, and of course you can’t be cruising down Michigan Avenue and not stop at the Art Institute of Chicago. The museum is always killer, but I was blown away by one artist in particular whose work was being exhibted in the Modern Wing as part of the Art Institute Society for Contemporary Art Acquisition for 2013.
Anna Boghiguian is an Egyptian-born artist working between Cairo, Europe, and the United States. What was specifically impressive about her exhibition was the fact that it was a collection of 80 notebook-sized drawings/paintings/collages that hit on everything from 19th-century colonialism to old French textbooks to the division of Germany to the current War on Terror to the Arab Spring. Boghiguian combined drawings with crayon and pencil with splashes of watercolor and digital images to create a series of works that was really intesely personal while also having an air of the historic.
I don’t have any detailed shots of the pieces because I didn’t have a camera on me in the museum (even on my phone, I know), but even so it really is an instillation that’s better experienced starting at one end of the wall and working your way down, looking and absorbing each page on its own and slowly getting a sense of how all of these historical and personal events flow from one to another. Because each page is ripped straight from a notebook, the whole installation views like a wide and dirty travelogue of the last 200 years. I also really enjoyed the fact that much of her handwritten script on the pages has a hint of influence from one of my favorite artists, Jean-Michel Basquiat.
And of course, what better way to end a museum trip than a stop at the gift shop? I always like to pick up a print or a poster each time I visit a museum (even if I’ve been there before) as a sort of notebook on where I’ve been and what I’ve seen. This time I grabbed a poster of Stuart Davis’ painting Ready-to-Wear from 1955. It’s a great piece of hard-edge painting from American mid-century modernism.