Expo Chicago returned to Navy Pier on September 17th for the fourth edition of “The Windy City’s” art fair with 140 exhibitors from 16 countries and 47 cities. Looking as strong as it has since the first year—when founder, president and director Tony Karman rallied international galleries and Chicago art lovers to make the city a major art destination once again, as it historically has been in the past.
The fair garnered positive response by both exhibitors and visitors alike. Contemporary Arts Museum Houston senior curator Valerie Cassel Oliver probably summed it up best by stating, “Expo Chicago provided a glimpse of some of the best work happening in the field. The fair—combined with the great offerings of the city and collector visits, artists’ studios and museum exhibitions—was nothing short of spectacular!”
More than 3,000 artists were exhibited at Expo Chicago and over 35,000 visitors had the chance to see their work. The fair’s varied programming featured the /Dialogues talks, In/Situ exhibitions of large-scale installations and nearly a dozen Expo Projects spread throughout the Navy Pier, a diverse Expo Video program and several special exhibitions—including the Aperture Foundation’s group show of commissioned works by experimental photographers and the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland’s commissioned video installation, riffing on Auguste Rodin’s famous sculpture The Thinker, by Israeli artist Nevet Yitzhak.
Standout solo booths included an overview of abstract paintings from 1966 to 2013 by the brilliant British artist Richard Smith at Flowers Gallery, Ai Weiwei’s conceptually playful sculptures and editions at Chambers Fine Art and painted abstract wood works by Cordy Ryman at Galerie Zurcher, while juxtapositions of works by Tony Tasset and Scott Reeder at Kavi Gupta and David Wojnarowicz and Martin Wong at P.P.O.W made group hangings pop.
Highlights in the /Dialogues talks, which were presented in partnership with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, included “Museum Models: The Global Impact of Public Collections,” moderated by Jacob Proctor and featuring Thelma Golden, Solveig Øvstebø and Franklin Sirmans on Friday and “Hans Olrich Obrist in Conversation with the Hairy Who,” with Art Green, Gladys Nilsson and Karl Wirsum on Saturday.
“I’m delighted because I’ve wanted to do a group conversation with the members of The Hairy Who for a long time and it seems like a complete miracle that it has actually came to fruition, with all six members here in Chicago to participate in this special /Dialogues conversation,” said London’s Serpentine Galleries curator and co-director Hans Ulrich Obrist. “It’s the fair that has made it possible. This city has so many incredible institutions and organizations and during Expo Chicago they all seem to come together, making the city an exhibition in itself.”
Around town Monique Meloche presented a stellar show of hand-embellished tapestries with a humanist twist by Ebony G. Patterson; Jessica Stockholder took over Kavi Gupta’s larger Elizabeth Street space with a solo show of sculptures incorporating cars, pianos and street lights and a curated group exhibition of artists that share her product assemblage sensibility; and Theaster Gates previewed his Stony Island Arts Bank, which will get its full exposure at the Chicago Architecture Biennial in October.