Hull-House Museum celebrates Chicago Imagists with film, panel

Page by Karl Wirsum from "The Portable Hairy Who," 1966, comic/artist's book.  Courtesy of Pentimenti Productions.

Page by Karl Wirsum from “The Portable Hairy Who,” 1966, comic/artist’s book. Courtesy of Pentimenti Productions.

The Jane Addams Hull-House Museum at the University of Illinois at Chicago invites all to a free film screening and panel discussion on the 1960s art movement Chicago Imagism.


The museum will screen “Hairy Who and the Chicago Imagists,” a 2014 documentary film directed by Leslie Buchbinder that the Chicago Tribune described as “far from a dry litany of talking heads…a love letter.”

A panel discussion, “Gender Equality in the Visual Arts,” will follow, featuring curator and critic Claudine Isé, executive director of Woman Made Gallery; Barbara Rossi, a Chicago Imagist; and artist Sue Williams. The discussion will be moderated by Judith Russi Kirshner, deputy director for education at the Art Institute of Chicago.


Thursday, April 30
Reception at 5:30 p.m.
Screening at 6 p.m.
Panel discussion at 8 p.m.


Imagist Gladys Nilsson, 1966. Photo by: William Arsenault. Courtesy of Pentimenti Productions.

Imagist Gladys Nilsson, 1966. Photo by: William Arsenault. Courtesy of Pentimenti Productions.

Gallery 400
University of Illinois at Chicago
400 S. Peoria St.


“Hairy Who and the Chicago Imagists” is a lavishly illustrated documentary on Chicago Imagism, the 1960s art movement that challenged Pop Art’s status quo, then faded from view. Forty years later, its funk and grit inspire artists from Jeff Koons to Chris Ware.

Variously described as graphic, comical, absurd, pugnacious, puerile and scatalogical, Chicago Imagism celebrated a different version of popular art from that of the detached cool of New York, London and Los Angeles.

The post-screening panel discussion will focus on gender equality in the visual arts, which is discussed in the film. Many Imagist artists have advocated the equal treatment that male and female artists in their group enjoyed. Some describe this quality as one that set Imagism apart from the male-dominated environments in other art  centers.

The speakers on the panel represent a variety of perspectives:

  • Barbara Rossi was a member of the original Chicago Imagists group and exhibited in many Chicago Imagist shows around the world. She has taught painting and drawing at the School of the Art Institute since 1971 and is an expert on Indian painting.
  • Sue Williams is based in New York, but hails from the Chicago area and has identified the Imagists as an influence. She came to prominence in the early 1980s with works that echoed and argued with the dominant postmodern feminist aesthetic. Her interests since have moved toward abstraction.
  • Claudine Isé will discuss Chicago’s art scene and how criticism and the gallery system galvanize gender roles. She is a visiting clinical assistant professor in UIC’s museum and exhibition studies program and has nearly 20 years of experience as a writer, editor, educator and curator of contemporary art. Previously, she was a curator at the Wexner Center for the Arts and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.
  • Moderator Judith Russi Kirshner is a critic and curator who has lectured and written about feminist art and Chicago artists. She is deputy director for education and women’s board endowed chair at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Admission to the reception, screening and panel discussion is free. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Guests who would like to attend only the panel discussion will be admitted at 8 p.m. if seats remain. For information, please call (312) 413-5353.

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