Terra Foundation-supported Events

Exhibition: The Monster Roster: Existentialist Art in Postwar Chicago

In 1959 artist and critic Franz Schulze dubbed a group of Chicago-based artists “the Monster Roster,” inspired by Leon Golub’s late 1940s images of distended, encrusted figures. The Monster Roster’s overtly psychological paintings, sculpture, and prints drew on classical mythology and art, as well as German Expressionism, to offer a biting critique of human nature. Despite being one of the most important Midwestern contributions to the development of American art, the significance of the Monster Roster has been largely overlooked. This exhibition brings together paintings, sculpture, and works on paper from the Smart Museum to examine the aesthetics of Golub and his compatriots—including Dominick DiMeo, Cosmo Campoli, June Leaf, Seymour Rosofsky, and Nancy Spero. It also sheds light on the group’s relationships with preceding generations of Chicago artists, as well as its influences on the well-known Chicago Imagists, who followed.

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Exhibition/Collection Loan: Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist

This exhibition considers the work of Archibald Motley (1891–1980) within an early-twentieth-century international modernist context. Motley’s works include observations of a vibrant and tumultuous African American community in the years just prior to and after the Great Depression, references to 1929–30 France, and reflections on the so-called “El Milagro Mexicano” in post-World War II Mexico. The exhibition has at its core paintings depicting one of Chicago’s historically black communities, Bronzeville. Motley intensely interrogates this community, picturing with equal sarcasm Chicago’s African American elites; the city’s rustic, recently disembarked southern migrants; and its unseemly “ne’er-do-wells and lowlifes.” This exhibition features approximately 47 of the artist’s paintings, including Between Acts (1935), from the Terra Foundation collection.

This exhibition is also on view at:

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Archibald j. Motley, Jr., Between Acts, 1935. Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Art Acquisition Endowment Fund, 2009.1
Exhibition: Gather Up the Fragments: The Andrews Shaker Collection

Less than 20 years after their founding in Manchester, England, in 1758, the Shakers immigrated to America and spread across New England, New York, Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana. Organized by the Hancock Shaker Village—a historic site in Pittsfield, MA, dedicated to the group’s history—this Terra Foundation-supported exhibition tells two stories through its presentation of more than 190 Shaker objects, including crafts and household artifacts. First, through a recognizable aesthetic and style of crafts, it recounts the story of the religious movement, commonly known as the Shakers. Second, it examines the role of Faith and Edward Andrews—avid collectors, dealers, and ultimately scholars—in the preservation of the Shaker heritage from the 1920s to the 1960s. Their vast collection, now donated, forms the nucleus of the holdings at the Hancock Shaker Village.

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Exhibition: The Left Front: Radical Art in the “Red Decade,” 1929–1940

Organized by the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University, this Terra Foundation-supported exhibition will explore the links between art and leftist politics in 1930s America, especially as connected to the John Reed Club (JRC) and the American Artists Congress (AAC). Through prints, paintings, posters, rare books, and ephemera drawn from the Block, the Terra Foundation, and other local collections, the exhibition will highlight how artists embraced radical political history, with special attention to Chicago. During the exhibition’s run, the museum’s main gallery will be converted into a makeshift John Reed Club, a site for free lectures, readings, debates, discussions, artistic production, and performances related to the exhibition’s historic period and themes.

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Exhibition: Art and Appetite: American Painting, Culture, and Cuisine

From the earliest years of the United States, American artists such as Raphaelle Peale used still-life painting to express cultural, political, and social values, elevating the genre to a significant aesthetic language. This Terra Foundation-supported exhibition brings together 75 paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts from the 18th through the 20th century to explore the art and culture of food and examine the many meanings and interpretations of eating in America.

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Exhibition/Terra Collection Initiative: Home Front: Daily Life in the Civil War North

The American Civil War still occupies a prominent place in the national collective memory, yet books and art exhibitions have tended to focus on the war itself and its cultural impact. Home Front: Daily Life in the Civil War North, co-curated by the Terra Foundation’s Peter John Brownlee and Newberry Library’s Daniel Greene, concentrates instead on the Northern home front, juxtaposing an outstanding group of paintings from the Terra Foundation’s collection with a wealth of complementary material drawn from the Newberry Library’s collections, including popular prints, illustrated newspapers, photographs, maps, magazines, sheet music, fashion plates, letters, diaries, advertisements, and other ephemera.

The only major exhibition in Chicago devoted to the Civil War during its 150th anniversary, Home Front presents a constellation of objects that will open a new window onto a world far removed from the horror of war, yet intimately bound to it. The exhibition will be accompanied by an illustrated catalog, a one-day scholarly symposium, and three public lectures featuring art and cultural historians and specialists in American literature, geography, and Native American studies.

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Lilly Martin Spencer, The Home of the Red, White and Blue, c. 1867‒1868, oil on canvas, 24 x 30 in. (61 x 76.2 cm), Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Art Acquisition Endowment Fund, 2007.1
Exhibitions: AFRICOBRA in Chicago

AFRICOBRA in Chicago explores works produced by the African-American artist collective AFRICOBRA, formed in 1968 on the South Side of Chicago. Still in existence today, AFRICOBRA (African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists) worked to make African-American art something unique in society, using different techniques to display aspects of blackness in their artwork. Artists represented include Gerald Williams, Jeff Donaldson, Wadsworth Jarell, Jae Jarrell, Barbara Jones, and others.

The project comprises three interrelated exhibitions:

The first movement, AFRICOBRA: Prologue: The 1960s and the Black Arts Movement, takes place at South Side Community Art Center (May 10–July 7, 2013), where a permanent collection of work from the 1940s to the 1960s provides the exhibition’s historical context, situating AFRICOBRA amid its artistic predecessors. For more information, please visit:

AFRICOBRA: Philosophy will be staged at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, at the University of Chicago (June 28–August 11, 2013), and focus on the aesthetic philosophy of the collective as it was first articulated by its five founding members in the 1960s and 1970s. For more information, please visit:

AFRICOBRA: Art and Impact, at the DuSable Museum (July 26–September 29, 2013), will expand on the previous two exhibitions, showcasing later work by the members of the collective, local affiliated colleagues, and members of subsequent incarnations of the group as it began to move beyond Chicago to the rest of the United States. For more information, please visit:

AFRICOBRA in Chicago will be accompanied by public programming, educational opportunities, performances, and other events featuring original members of the collective to provide commentary on the historical significance of their artistic perspective.

Exhibition: For and Against Modern Art: The Armory Show + 100

This exhibition reunites some of the prints, drawings, and paintings from the notorious Armory Show of 1913, which introduced a stunned America to avant-garde European art. Post-Impressionism, Cubism, and abstraction seem unremarkable now, but the intensity—and polarity—of the critical reception had ramifications in the Chicago art world for decades.

Jean-Michel Rabaté, professor of English and comparative literature at the University of Pennsylvania and Vartan Gregorian Professor in the Humanities will present “The Armory Shows: Modernity as Pathos” at 6:30 p.m. on April 5 as part of the opening celebrations.

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Exhibition: Destroy the Picture: Painting the Void, 1949–1962

Destroy the Picture: Painting the Void, 1949–1962 focuses on one of the most significant developments in contemporary abstract painting: the artist’s literal assault on the picture plane. Responding to the physical and psychological destruction wrought by World War II—especially the existential crisis resulting from the atomic bomb—artists ripped, cut, burned, and affixed objects to the canvas. This Terra Foundation-supported exhibition emphasizes an internationally shared artistic sensibility in the context of devastating global change and dynamic artistic dialogues, offering an innovative and expansive view of art making in the postwar period.

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