One of the most well-known and culturally influential groups of Midwestern artists in the 1900s were the Chicago Imagists. This tight-knit group created work that was representational and often figurative. However, unlike many other representational artists, the Chicago Imagists, or Imagists for short, drew more influence from comics, commercials, and the psychedelic visual culture of the 1960s than they did from the world of classical and traditional art.
The Imagists were deeply entwined with the larger idiosyncrasy that was the counter-cultural movement of the 1960s. America had awoken from the post-World War II placidity to a new era fractured by conflict and marked by a youth culture that many felt was on the verge of global domination. The strange playfulness and borderline hallucinogenic experimentation of their work reflect these influences.
This exhibition presents seven works by seven Chicago Imagists, all from Rockford Art Museum’s Permanent Collection. Together, this selection of work displays both the artists’ similarities as a cohort and their individual and ferociously specific styles. Welcome to the undulating and mind-altering cartoon-dream world of the Chicago Imagists.
Chicago Imagists is curated by Rockford Art Museum Assistant Curator Frances Downey.