Contemporary Art

July 28, 2016–June 11, 2017

Nick Cave, Soundsuit, 2011

Above: Nick Cave, Soundsuit, 2011, Twigs, wire, upholstery, basket, and metal armature. Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, Purchase, The Paul and Miriam Kirkley Fund for Acquisitions, 2011.44.

Top: Installation view of the Smart's contemporary art gallery, with works by Andy Warhol and Donald Lipski.

Over the past century, artists have embraced an ever-increasing array of subjects, processes, and materials.

The Smart Museum’s contemporary collection reflects the rich diversity of these approaches while emphasizing several central threads in recent art: the persistence of figurative traditions, the emergence of conceptual art, and artwork that explores the pressing social issues of our time. The collection also includes many artists with significant connections to Chicago.


In 2016–2017, the contemporary gallery will be the site of several collection rotations and special projects, including portions of the exhibitions There was a whole collection made and Vostell Concrete

Collection Rotation: Belonging
June 28–December 30, 2016
In conjunction with Conversations with the Collection: Belonging and There was a whole collection made, the Smart presents an international selection of photo-based works that address issues of cultural identity and belonging, featuring recent acquisitions and other works from the collection by Hong Lei, Mark Dion, Vivan Sundaram, Veer Munshi, and Shirin Neshat. 

Also on view until August 14: a selection of paintings by the Chicago Imagists and Antony Gormley’s Infinite Cube

Collection Rotation: Materiality
January 17–June 12, 2017
Adjoining Vostell Concrete, this presentation features a selection of works from the Smart's collection that make use of non-traditional materials like food and feathers. It features a large chocolate sculpture by Paul McCarthy on view for the first time as well as works by Carol Bove, Nick Cave, Sam Gilliam, and Erwin Wurm, among others. 

Presented in the Robert and Joan Feitler Gallery