Illinois Institute of Technology’s (IIT) art@IIT presents “BARBARA CRANE – THEN/NOW – The Eternal Thread of the ID Aesthetic,” an exhibit of recent works by artist Barbara Crane, alongside photographs from her portfolio that she created as an IIT Institute of Design (ID) student. The exhibition will be on display from Thursday, September 10, through Monday, February 1, 2010, in the Kemper Room Art Gallery of the Galvin Library, 35 West 33rd St., Chicago, on IIT’s Main Campus. An opening reception, including an artist’s talk by Barbara Crane, will be held from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, September 10, in the Kemper Room Art Gallery.
The IIT Archives and the IIT Paul V. Galvin Library have recently announced the opening of a significant archival collection, the Institute of Design Records, 1948-2001, from which Crane’s ID portfolio was gathered. This collection includes materials produced by a number of ID students and faculty, along with materials documenting significant school activities and programs. This body of ID records joins a previously opened collection, Institute of Design Records, 1937-1955, which includes materials from the school’s opening in 1937, by László Moholy-Nagy, as the New Bauhaus in Chicago. The collections are open to scholars and researchers by appointment only. Remarks about the newly catalogued ID Archives will be offered at 6 p.m. on September 10, as part of the exhibition’s opening reception.
Independent curator Susan Aurinko created the idea for the exhibition when she learned that the IIT ID archives had been reorganized and made available for study, realizing that a collection of Barbara Crane’s works from her time as a student at ID could be displayed to the public for the first time. Through the years, Aurinko represented Barbara Crane’s work at FLATFILEgalleries in Chicago, discovering that the experimental aesthetic developed during her studies at ID remains strong in her contemporary work. With the newly accessible archives, Aurinko was able to pull Crane’s Master’s Thesis, unseen in its entirety since 1966, and exhibit images from the portfolio together with the artist’s thesis essay. A selection from the 90 photographs in her thesis will be exhibited alongside her work from the last several years. By juxtaposing the old work with the new, a connection is established, showing that what Crane learned and experimented with during her ID studies continues into her current work. This exhibition will run concurrent to the Barbara Crane retrospective, which will open on Saturday, October 3, at the Chicago Cultural Center.
Beginning her career in photography in 1948, Crane earned a master’s degree in photography from ID in 1966, where she began the unique and pioneering techniques that still mark her work today. Crane has received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship (1979), an Illinois Arts Council Artists Fellowship grant (2001), two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships (1988,1974), and numerous other awards, grants and honors. She served as a full professor at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago from 1967 to 1995, and has presented more than 100 solo exhibitions in museums and galleries. Her work is included in numerous private and public collections in the United States, Japan, France, Greece, and Germany.
The concepts Crane learned at ID are still a driving force for her today; strong individuality, visual experimentation and purity of form are stressed in her work, about which she has said, “The issues in my work are often of a similar nature with an abstract edge. Though I build on past experience, I attempt to eradicate previous habits of seeing and thinking. I keep searching for what is visually new to me while always hoping that a fusion of form and content will take place”.
Exhibition hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. For parking information and directions, or for more information about art@IIT, please visit www.art.iit.edu.
This exhibition is part of Living Modern Chicago (March 2008–May 2010), a slate of programs organized by the Mies van der Rohe Society at IIT and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago that probe the presence of the modern today, featuring the legacy of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and László Moholy-Nagy who carried Bauhaus principles to Chicago and IIT. For more information about Living Modern Chicago programs, visit www.livingmodernchicago.org