In this issue, Sculpture inaugurates a new department that profiles specific cities or regions as destinations for sculpture lovers. The articles in this series will allow us to focus on contemporary sculpture events and important happenings around the world. For the first installment, we turn to Chicago, where spring means Art Chicago, bringing scores of art lovers from around the globe to this magnificent city to eat, walk, and take in art.
In late April, Chicago plays host to one of the art world’s crown jewels—Art Chicago. Art Chicago and its predecessors have to be considered the grandparents of the modern international art fair. Hosted for years in the then-empty, cavernous, and utterly fantastic Navy Pier, subsequently moved to a tent in the park, and most recently acquired, moved, and given new life by Chris Kennedy and Merchandise Mart Properties, Art Chicago is regaining its historic stature among the world’s most important and impressive international art fairs. Without Chicago, there would be no Miami, and the day is coming when Chicago will return to the top of the heap.
Although sometimes perceived as being in New York’s shadow, Chicago has always been a great art city. It boasts one of the earliest and most vibrant collections of public art. Long before public art was in vogue or required by local municipalities, Chicago developers were leaders in acquiring and displaying large-scale artworks—particularly sculpture—and city leaders were early supporters of the installation of large-scale public art. When you think of Chicago and public art, you think of Picasso, Mirò, Dubuffet, Agam, Caro, Ferrari, Kelly, Calder, Oldenburg, Stella, Noguchi, Kapoor, Plensa, Nevelson, Chagall, Hunt, Serra, Moore, and LeWitt—and that’s just in the Loop. Of course, Chicago is renowned for its architecture as well, with buildings by some of the most sought-after architects (past and present) from around the world: you can whet your appetite with Adler, Sullivan, Gehry, Wright, Jahn, Johnson, Pei, and SOM.
Chicago’s gallery scene has thrived for decades, even as its “gallery district” has grown and sprouted satellite and new locations around the city. (Witness the rebirth of the “West Loop” and an entirely new residential, restaurant, and gallery district over the past 15 years.) While in Chicago you can visit over 40 galleries in River North, another 10 or more in the South Loop and River East, and over 30 more in the West Loop.
Anchored by the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago provides art lovers and museum lovers with an experience unlike that of almost any other city. As you compile your list of institutions to visit, be sure to wander a little further south to Hyde Park and visit the Renaissance Society, the Smart Museum of Art, and the Hyde Park Art Center.
It may be my hometown, and I am certainly biased, but I hope you’ll agree with me that there is nothing like Chicago in the spring—especially if you are an art lover.
Chairman, ISC Board of Directors