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Past Exhibitions

Unsettled Ground: Art and Environment from the Smart Museum Collection

March 22–June 26, 2022

How has the environment shaped artistic practice, and how can artistic form teach us to understand our local and planetary environment in new ways? Organized by the Feitler Center for Academic Inquiry, this exhibition speaks to a generative conversation between art and the environment across multiple scales of time and space.

Bob Thompson: This House Is Mine

February 15–May 15, 2022

Featuring more than 85 paintings and works on paper, This House Is Mine centers Bob Thompson’s brief but prolific transatlantic career within expansive art historical narratives and ongoing dialogues about the politics of representation, charting his enduring influence.

A bulbous ceramic sculpture made from vase fragments with gold joints

Porcelain: Material and Storytelling

February 15–March 6, 2022

Porcelain is an artistic medium as well as a material substance. It can be used to represent figures and to tell stories in two-dimensional and three-dimensional forms, and its own materiality can also be made into the subject of artistic expression.

Thick smears of paint partially cover a photograph of a seascape

Smart to the Core: Medium / Image

September 23–December 12, 2021

Presented as primary source material for the University of Chicago Core sequence "Media Aesthetics," this exhibition seeks to interrogate the ethical, political, and epistemological debates about images and perception.

A painting of multiple characters marching alongside a car in subdued but vibrant colors

Toward Common Cause: Art, Social Change, and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40

Presented in multiple venues and neighborhoods throughout Chicago

Presented in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the MacArthur Fellows Program, this multi-site exhibition uses the idea of “the commons” to explore the current socio-political moment, in which questions of inclusion, exclusion, ownership, and rights of access are constantly being challenged across a wide array of human endeavors.

Luca Cambiaso, Venus and Cupid, c. 1570, Oil on canvas. The Art Institute of Chicago, A. A. Munger Collection, 1942.290.

Lust, Love, and Loss in Renaissance Europe

April 8–June 13, 2021

Passion, violence, and virtue emerge in this exhibition as fundamental, intertwined elements in the artworks of Renaissance Europe.

Museum as Classroom

April 9–June 13, 2021

Organized by the Feitler Center for Academic Inquiry, this presentation features clusters of artworks that were selected for individual courses across disciplines at the University of Chicago—ranging from “Woodblock Prints of Japan” to “Queer Theory and Queer Practice.”

Unmade bed with rustled sheets and several hairpins resting on it, black and white photo.

Take Care

Fall 2020 and Online

What does it mean to care for something, someone, or ourselves? Drawing generously from the Smart Museum’s collection, Take Care seeks to unpack matters of care from the personal to the collective.

Claudia Wieser: Generations

Fall 2020 and online

Generations is a seven-year survey of the distinctive, multi-faceted practice of Berlin-based artist Claudia Wieser. 

Museum as classroom

Fall 2020

Organized by the Feitler Center for Academic Inquiry, this presentation features clusters of artworks that were selected for individual courses across disciplines at the University of Chicago—ranging from “Diasporic Practices in Contemporary Art” to “Ancient Mediterranean Worlds.”