Representing life in Chicago with Art

Written by Syed Ali

This week, the Krannert Art Museum held an exhibition, “Between the Buildings: Art from Chicago, 1930s – 1980s,”  that held various paintings and art sculptures representing Chicago/life in Chicago. Various artists created differing themes about what aspects of Chicago are most important and how they can be represented.

Description of the exhibition

The exhibition in its entirety represents a combination of physical and psychological aspects of Chicago. Some artists drew or constructed images and landmarks, whereas others created abstract images. The physical art consisted mostly of photos that represent the mechanical aspect of Chicago and the day to day life in a dense city. The abstract art represents the minds and feelings of the city-dwellers, as well as the soul/overall feel of the city.

The exhibition emphasized the architecture and atmosphere of Chicago as a whole. Take for example images of Chicago. Lake shore drive (titled as Chicago by Harry Callahan), is depicted as alone and unwavering. A combination of metal pieces represent the iron/metal frame of Chicago: the city is filled with large structures and skyscrapers. The physical art of Chicago tell a story of how the city came to be and how it feels so massive but also small at the same time.

Two psychological pieces of art (below) express the lives of the people and the abstractness that comes with living in Chicago. To the right is Dana’s Zebra Revisited by Ruth Aizuss Migdal, and the to the right is an oil on canvas Head by Fred Berger. Head symbolizes the distortion and liveliness of the individual; Chicago is a dense city with a lot of people with differing life styles. Dana’s Zebra symbolizes the complex nature of the city. Chicago is more than just a concentration of people; it is a place where goals are made and relationships are built. Emotionally, both artists convey a sense of a busy and elegant life. Ultimately, they both feel chaotic but positive







Photos by Syed Ali

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