Gary Simmons Presents 'Public Enemy' at MCA Chicago

The most comprehensive survey on the artist to date.

Art
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MCA Chicago is gearing up to host the first comprehensive survey on multidisciplinary artist Gary Simmons. Originally from New York but now based in Los Angeles, Simmons, whose family comes from the West Indies, has spent the past 30 years interrogating the visual lexicon of American culture, in relations to race, class and gender identity.

Public Enemy will retrace Simmons’ early conceptual strategies of the late 1980s, such as his focus on sculpture, while progressing towards the wall artworks he’d come to be known for during his career. Also on view are a number of site-specific installations that have been specially made for the exhibition.

Simmons often taps into pedagogical themes, readymade objects and widely accessible images to probe traditions entrenched in racism, such as Six-X (1989), which featured six child-sized Ku Klux Klan uniforms hanging from a school coatrack, along with a more recent work, Fade to Black (2017), consisting of five massive wall drawings that displayed the titles of vintage silent films and the names of the African American actors who played in them, who have largely been forgotten from history.

There’s an equal sense of beauty and horror when observing Simmons’ work, “this chilling moment,” as he’s described in the past, that provides a powerful physical sensation. “Art is a vehicle to create a moment of question and thought,” Simmons added.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a major catalog on the artist, providing a holistic understanding of Simmons’ impact on the landscape of contemporary art. Public Enemy will open on July 13 and run through October 1.

Elsewhere, Haroshi and James Jean collaborate on new print via Avant Arte.

MCA Chicago
220 E Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611

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