"Luminous Ground" at the Illinois State Museum Chicago Gallery | Art review
Ellen Lanyon, Ralph Arnold and nine other Chicago “artists with histories” get the recognition they deserve.
In 2009, New York’s New Museum omitted artists older than 33 from “The Generational: Younger Than Jesus.” Some art-world observers warned that the exhibition’s focus on youth would marginalize under-appreciated talents and make us forget that artistic development is a long, slow process.
Neither problem befalls “Luminous Ground: Artists with Histories,” which highlights 11 Chicago artists whose careers span at least 50 years. Curators Judith Lloyd Klauba and Doug Stapleton’s selections are solid and eclectic: The show encompasses works as diverse as Leopold Segedin’s quietly political figurative paintings, silversmith William Frederick’s communion chalices (and hilarious X-rated sculpture Contemporary Totem), and Gerda Meyer Bernstein’s installation Gaza Tunnel (2010), a passageway made out of 6,000 books.
The exhibition includes too many artists to examine their careers in sufficient depth, but its mix of early and late pieces hints at how their practices evolved. Some of the changes aren’t drastic: Elizabeth Rupprecht’s experiments with color have continued for decades, even as her landscapes grow more abstract (pictured).
While one can’t get enough of Ellen Lanyon’s paintings and prints, the show’s other, less familiar artists confirm “Luminous Ground” as a valuable historical document.