(CHICAGO, IL Dec. 1, 2022) It was announced today that the crowd-pleasing pair of exhibitions currently selling out at Wrightwood 659 will extend into the new year, now closing Saturday, January 28, 2023. The two exhibitions, which officially opened October 1, are The First Homosexuals: Global Depictions of a New Identity, 1869-1930 and Michiko Itatani: Celestial Stage. In addition, We Shall Defy: Shahidul Alam, an exhibition of images and texts illuminating the life and work of the renowned Bangladeshi photojournalist and activist, remains on view. These three distinct presentations are installed throughout Wrightwood 659's unique exhibition space, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando, and are presented by Alphawood Exhibitions.
The First Homosexuals: Global Depictions of a new Identity, 1869-1930 (Second Floor Gallery)
The First Homosexuals begins in the year 1869, when the word "homosexual" was coined in Europe, inaugurating the idea of same-sex desire as the basis for a new identity category. With more than 100 paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, and film clipsdrawn from public and private collections around the globe and including works which have never before been allowed to travel outside their countriesthis large-scale international exhibition offers the first multi-media survey of some of the founding works of queer art. The First Homosexuals explores what the earliest homosexuals understood themselves to be, how dominant culture understood them, and how the codes of representation they employed offer previously unknown glimpses into the social and cultural meanings of same-sex desire. The First Homosexuals is organized in two parts, due to Covid-related delays, with Part I now on view through January 28, 2023. Three years from now, in 2025, 250 masterworks will be gathered at Wrightwood 659 for Part II, in a major exhibition that will travel internationally, accompanied by a comprehensive catalogue.
Michiko Itatani: Celestial Stage (Third and Fourth-Floor Galleries)
Michiko Itatani: Celestial Stage is an exhibition of more than 60 paintings and drawings that reveal the Chicago-based artist's fascination with humankind's efforts to comprehend the universe and the inspiring grandeur of the unknown. Over the course of her 40-year career, Itatani (b. 1948, Osaka, Japan) has created a compelling body of work that is at once private in its inspirations, and outward facing in its engagement with the mysteries and science of the cosmos. Itatani's oversized paintingsoften seven-by-eight feet or even largerburst with an energy created by densely placed images, which serve as symbols of humanity's eternal search for knowledge. Many of the paintings depict "stages" where science and culture come improbably togetherlinking baroque bookcases and rockets, grand pianos with Japanese tea rooms, and harps alongside helical staircases. The effect is of an artist's joyous exuberance and her wonder and awe at the world and beyond. A limited edition, 60-page publication accompanies the exhibition and is available for purchase on site or at wrightwood659.org/publications
RELATED FREE VIRTUAL PROGRAMMING:
Inside the Cabinet of Curiosities: Author Andrew Hui on Itatani, Borges and Leibniz
Tuesday, December 6 at 7 PM CST via Zoom; visit www.wrightwood659.org/programs to register
The paintings of Michiko Itatani conjure old-world fantasies of libraries, studios, cabinets of curiosities, and museums, interposed with sci-fi images of the galaxies. Western culture, ranging from the Library of Alexandria to Google Books, has been haunted by myths of ordered libraries, chaos, and the dangers of yearning to know and possess it all. How does Itatani's work continue this tradition of metaphysical speculations? Andrew Hui, author and professor at Yale University and the National University of Singapore, answers this question by looking at beguiling examples from German philosophy and twentieth-century Argentinian literature, as well as representation of cultural spaces in the photography of Candida Hofer, Andreas Gursky, and Robert Polidori.
Writing Without Words: Artist Talk with Michiko Itatani
Thursday, January 19 at 6 PM CST via Zoom; visit www.wrightwood659.org/programs to register
Join us for a virtual artist talk with Chicago-based painter Michiko Itatani who has spent the better half of a century crafting a visual language which captures humanity's place suspended between the quantum and cosmic realms. In her lecture Writing Without Words, Itatani connects the history and influences of her practice and pedagogy which have layered over time into a rich lexicon of personal codes. Itatani is Professor Emeritus at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC), where she has taught for 40 years. Her work is represented in the permanent collections of public museums around the world, including the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA), Spain; National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul, Korea; Olympic Museum, Lausanne, Switzerland; and the U.S. Embassy Brasilia, Brazil, among many others.
The Making of "The First Homosexuals," with curator Jonathan D. Katz
Recorded November 29 and online soon via www.wrightwood659.org/programs
The term "homosexual," first coined in Europe in 1869, reduced the complexity of sexuality to the simple binary of homosexual and not. The exhibition explores the social and cultural parameters of same-sex desire through over 100 works created within 50 years of the term's origin. Who were the "first homosexuals"? How did they define themselves and how were they understood within the dominant culture? In this virtual lecture, Katz Jonathan D. Katz, distinguished scholar and curator of the exhibition The First Homosexuals: Global Depictions of a New Identity, 1869-1930 explores these questions, elaborating on his impetus for the exhibition and highlighting key works.
About Wrightwood 659
Wrightwood 659 is a private, non-collecting institution devoted to socially engaged art and to architecture. Located at 659 W. Wrightwood Avenue, in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood, the intimate space was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando, who transformed the interior of a 1920s building with his signature concrete forms and poetic treatment of natural light. Since its inauguration on October 10, 2018, Wrightwood 659 has hosted a wide range of exhibitions, most recently: AMERICAN FRAMING; Rirkrit Tiravanija: (who's afraid of yellow, red, and green), an exhibition organized by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; and Moga: Modern Women & Daughters in 1930s Japan all presented May 6-July 30, 2022. For additional information, visit https://wrightwood659.org/
About Alphawood Exhibitions
Alphawood Exhibitions is an affiliate of Alphawood Foundation, a Chicago-based, grant-making private foundation working for an equitable, just, and humane society.
Hours of Operation
Tickets for the exhibitions are $15 and available online only at tickets.wrightwood659.org/events. Please note, admission is by advance ticket only. Walk-ups are not permitted.
We require all staff and guests to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.Visitors will be required to show proof of vaccination and booster prior to admission to Wrightwood 659.Proof of vaccine and booster can be your official vaccine card or a photo of the card, along with a matching photo ID. Any individual who does not meet these requirements will not be permitted to enter the building. Children who are not fully vaccinated or who are ineligible for vaccination cannot be admitted to the building. Masks are required throughout the gallery. wrightwood659.org/terms-and-conditions/health-safety/ .