leanor Foa Dienstag

A Hip Art Museum in Downtown Chicago

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Iconic Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower)Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower)

Tucked away near Water Tower Place in downtown Chicago (opening photo) – between North Lake Shore Drive and the John Hancock Center – is a hidden cultural treasure of the windy city, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago. If you happen to be in Chicago, for business or pleasure, don’t miss it.

StatueThe Museum with Amanda Ross-Ho’s Public Art Project, The Character and Shape of Illuminated Things

The museum is housed in a dramatic five-story limestone and cast-aluminum building, designed by Berlin architect Josef Paul Kleihues. Its fascinating interior includes an astonishingly beautiful staircase and eye-popping stairwell anchored by a fish pond. Large central glass walls and multi-story atriums also offer fascinating views of the city. The colorful indoor-outdoor dining area overlooks the Museum’s charming sculpture garden, which itself overlooks Lake Shore Park.

Interior StaircaseStaircase

Interior Stairwell

Interior StaurwellInterior Stairwell

Outdoor Dining AreaOutdoor Dining Area

Sculpture GardenSculpture Garden

But I was particularly impressed by two exhibitions: Think First, Shoot Later: Photography from the MCA Collection (on view through November 10, 2013), and Homebodies (on view through October 13, 2013). Both shows are beautifully presented and their themes — instead of the usual art-speak gibberish — clearly articulated.

Think First, Shoot Later features conceptual photography from the past four decades – which is to say, staged works that often appear to be spontaneous moments in real time but are actually premeditated replications of highly manipulated realities. The show is presented in four sections: The Dusseldorf School, including major works by Bernd and Hila Becher, Thomas Struth and Andreas Gursky; Constructing Images of the Self, Photography Looks at Itself, and Staged. Feminist artists such as Cindy Sherman and Sophie Calle are well represented. I was particularly taken with the work of Vancouver artist, Rodney Graham, in particular, his “Small Basement Camera Shop,” a humorous homage to a business that has been rendered almost obsolete by digital photography.

Inage from Think First Shoot LaterThink First, Shoot Later

Image from Think First Shoort Later

Think First, Shoot Later

Image from Think First Shoot Later

Think First, Shoot Later

Image from Think First

Think First, Shoot Later

Image from Homebodies


Image from Homebodies2


Image from Homebodies3


Museum Visitors

Museum Visitors

Homebodies, includes paintings, sculpture, video, photography and environments by more than 30 artists from around the world. It is fun, witty, profound, interactive and, in itself, worth the price of admission.

Photos by Eleanor Foa Dienstag

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
220 East Chicago Avenue


Contact me at:
Telephone 212-879-1542
E-mail at efoa@usa.net