Dan Peterman, Thank You for Your Patronage: Chairs from Street Carts, 1989. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, gift of Stenn Family in Memory of David C. Ruttenberg. © 1989 Dan Peterman.

Louise Lawler, Between Reagan and Bush, 1989. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Gerald S. Elliott Collection. © 1989 Louise Lawler.

USA Today and All that It Entails from the MCA Collection

Cady Noland, Chainsaw Cut Cowboy Head, 1990, Silkscreen on aluminum with rope, roll of tape, and cigarette box, 152.4 x 152.4 x 49 cm, Gift of Susan and Lewis Manilow, 1999.36.

Robert Heinecken, V.N. Pin Up (#1 of 2), 1968. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, gift of Daryl Gerber Stokols. © 1968 Robert Heinecken.


Museum of Contemporary Art
220 East Chicago Avenue
November 8, 2008-March 15, 2009

Works in USA Today come from the MCA collection, made primarily in the 1980s and 1990s that reveal continuing resonance and topical complexity spanning freedom of expression, militarism, pursuit of social justice, dynamics of race, and human and economic consequences of globalization as defining elements in society.

The exhibition includes works in painting, sculpture, photography, installation, and video to artists’ books presenting the work of artists based locally, nationally, and internationally.

Included in USA Today is Adrian Piper’s video installation, Cornered, drawing in the viewer with Piper’s calmly-delivered monologue on her own racial identity and leaves the viewer with the potent question, “what are you going to do with this information?” Several drawings from Jim Shaw’s Aestheticized Disaster series show images of conflict and mass destruction. Taken from newspaper or magazine photographs, the graphite reconstitutions of these images neutralize the violence or chaos of people’s lives. Howardena Pindell’s collage Rambo Real Estate: Homelessness poignantly comments on social and economic challenges, significant today as in 1987, when the work was made.

Cady Noland’s Chainsaw Cut Cowboy Head (1990) speaks to American archetypes and notions of violence, as received through the media. Noland began creating freestanding assemblages in the mid-1980s, generally consisting of a silk-screened image from a film or the media on an aluminum, leaning against a wall or propped on a stand, as in the image of a grinning cowboy head mutilated with holes and gashes.

Since the early 1980s, Louise Lawler has posed questions on the social function of art in photographs, installations, and provocative role-playing performances. Between Reagan and Bush consists of two juxtaposed parts. One is Lawler’s photograph of Jeff Koons works in storage. The other is a painted wall panel of a menu taken from The Silver Palate Cookbook, a contemporary guide to entertaining geared toward elite consumers. The title identifies the policies of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush as courses in a meal for upper-class consumption. Koons’ work represents her view of the gluttony of elitist taste and politics.

The exhibition also includes work by Dennis Adams, Chris Burden, Andreas Gursky, Robert Heinecken, Alfredo Jaar, Gabriel Kuri, Dan Peterman, Michel Rovner, and Greg Stimac, among others. Several groupings of artists’ books and archival materials from the MCA’s extensive collection complete the presentation including works by Joseph Beuys, Jenny Holzer, Yoko Ono, and Martha Rosler.

Louise Lawler, Egg and Gun, at Large, 2008, cibachrome face mounted to Plexiglas on museum box, 28-1/2 x 23". The Eli and Edythe L Broad Collection, Los Angeles.

Adrian Piper, Cornered, 1988. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Bernice and Kenneth Newberger Fund. © 1988 Adrian Piper.