Hairy Who? At The Art Institute
15 November 2018
In the mid-1960s, a new, astoundingly bold style emerged out of Chicago. The Hairy Who, a collection of six local artists who graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, changed the art landscape of Chicago and added new, fresh perspectives to social conversations of the time. The Art Institute of Chicago, just a short walk away from 1000M on Michigan Avenue, features a thorough exhibition of the artists and their radical work, on display until early January.
From 1966 to 1969, the Hairy Who, consisting of Jim Falconer, Art Green, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Suellen Rocca and Karl Wirsum, produced imaginative and experimental work that garnered local and national attention. Like many other Americans of their generation, the artists grew up during a period of national unrest, with the Vietnam War, assassinations of political figures, student protests and rising counterculture all fueling their work.
At the time, most exhibition opportunities for young Chicago artists were in sprawling group shows. Jim Falconer and Jim Nutt were eager to exhibit more work with fewer artists, and they approached Don Baum, the exhibition chairman of the Hyde Park Art Center on Chicago’s South Side. Baum supported their vision, allowing the six artists to debut their work. The opening night featured spiked punch, closely packed artwork and an energetic crowd, drawing enthusiastic reviews from all of Chicago’s major newspapers.
The Hairy Who continued to exhibit shows in Chicago and throughout the United States until 1969, with their final show held in Washington DC at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Presented on the 50th anniversary of the Hairy Who’s final show, the comprehensive exhibit at the Art Institute features approximately 225 works assembled from public and private collections. The group’s sense of humor, audacious commentary and daring style challenged notions of gender, sexuality, standards of beauty and nostalgia. The Art Institute’s collection contextualizes the artists’ work, giving a unique perspective into their creative processes.
Hairy Who? is at the Art Institute of Chicago until January 6, 2019. Tickets are available through here.