How Chicago! Imagists 1960s & 70s

Past exhibition
Hayward Gallery Touring

Gladys Nilsson, A Cold Mouth, 1968 © the artist. Courtesy the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York

The first significant UK exhibition in almost 40 years of work by the group of artists who have become known as the Chicago Imagists

In the mid-1960s, Chicago saw an explosion of artistic activity centred around this extraordinary group whose distinct and lively visual style would go on to influence some of the most important artists of the 20th century.

Having mostly studied in proximity to one another at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, they shared an enthusiasm for surrealism, art brut, comic books, non-western and ‘self-taught’ artists, commercial advertising and the music, markets, sideshows and architecture of the city they lived in. They learned from teachers at the School of the Art Institute and in turn their teachers learned from them. The strong bonds developed at art school has kept this group of artists affiliated under the moniker ‘Chicago Imagism’, despite the diversity of their work. How Chicago! will focus on works from that moment until 1980, a vital period in the development of these artists’ practice. 

Curated by Rosie Cooper, Head of Exhibitions at De La Warr Pavilion, and Sarah McCrory, Director at Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art, the exhibition will present 14 artists and will feature painting, objects, drawings, prints and ephemera to highlight their individual styles as well as their shared references and moments of connection. This exhibition aims to give UK audiences the chance to see an incredible and hugely influential body of work which has been rarely seen outside the USA. At a moment when many contemporary artists are reconnecting with ideas around figuration, this exhibition will provide a vital and inspirational touch-point for younger artists and the public alike. 

Featured Artists 

Roger Brown, Sarah Canright, Jim Falconer, Ed Flood, Art Green, Philip Hanson, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Ed Paschke, Christina Ramberg, Suellen Rocca, Barbara Rossi, Karl Wirsum and Ray Yoshida.

Exhibition venues

This exhibition toured to the following venues:

  • Goldsmiths Centre For Contemporary Art, London
  • De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea
Touring exhibitions

Find out more about our touring exhibitions programme, including exhibitions on tour and available to visit or hire.