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Art & Art History


Thursday, March 01, 1990–Friday, April 06, 1990
Gallery 400
400 South Peoria Street, Chicago, IL 60607

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Joe Andoe, Deborah Butterfield, Linda Connor, Dan Devening, David Helm, Jene Highstein, Roberto Juarez, Wesley Kimler, David Klamen, Vera Klement, David Kroll, Judy Ledgerwood, Robert McCauley, Mary Miss, Nic Nicosia, Michael Paha, Francois Robert, Michael Ryan, Hollis Sigler, and Michelle Stuart

NATURE/nature, curated by Karen Indeck and Linda King, investigates multiple issues surrounding our contemporary relationship to the natural world or the idea of nature, including its representation, exploitation, and metaphorical life. NATURE/nature is accompanied by a lecture series, which includes talks by Deborah Butterfield, Helen and Newton Harrison, Jene Highstein, Michael Paha, Dominique Mazeaud, Christopher Brown, Judy Ledgerwood, and Michelle Stuart.

The writer and artist Corey Postiglione wrote of the exhibition:

Our response to the rekindled interest in nature and its present dilemmas has been the return to traditional forms of landscape painting—a sort of postmodern nostalgia, a longing for a more pristine time of innocence. It is refreshing that this exhibition eschews this conservative and sentimental view in favor of works that are more conceptually oriented as a critique or meditation of nature.

Except for a pair of video works and two sculptural pieces, the exhibition largely comprises traditional media, such as painting, drawing, and photography, with a strong emphasis on painting. Many of the works in NATURE/nature demonstrate a kind of pathos, if not a pathetic fallacy. In David Helm ’s Fountain, a sprinkler endlessly waters the barren interior of a Plexiglas box, in a futile effort that is both humorous and affecting. Nic Nicosia ’s photograph Real Picture #11, an image of three children, gas can in hand, watching a small tree burn, is a sobering reminder of our own destructive capacity. In Michael Ryan ’s two pieces, Mulberry Tree North View and Mulberry Tree West View, the artist ground the image of a tree into twin sheets of plywood, in a gesture that explores the multiple layers of the representational history of nature. Though the works in this exhibition may elicit an emotional response, they are far from sentimental. Instead, NATURE/nature provides the audience with an opportunity to reexamine their feelings and ideas about nature in an environment that gestures toward the complexity and multifaceted quality of the man/nature duality.