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Expo Chicago Day Two: Teeming With Provocateurs And Art Stars

By Carrie McGath in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 25, 2014 4:30PM

The intensely fertile works by the great Louise Bourgeois graced the Galerie Karsten Greve Ag St. Moritz booth. The works on paper had a simple beauty as abstracted red lines formed bodies that hinted at copulation and nearby works showed birth and feeding. These works are quieter than much of the work I have seen by this artist while still having the impact of any Bourgeois. Sexuality is common in her work and dances with opposing ideas of virility and decay. One of the most important artists whose long life and career profoundly affected and improved the art world, particularly for women, I was so happy to see so much of her work at Expo.

David Zwirner Gallery had a small but mighty painting by Lisa Yuskavage, a painter I have been following closely for several years now. "Hippies" is sweet and subversive, the figures coy but possessing a sexuality that has a bit of that daring quality that is so much a part of her work. Also at Zwirner, sexuality continued in the work of Franz West. Magazine advertisements collage this pop art triptych as his sculpture, "Element of the Environment - Alpenglühn" sits nearby adding a wonderful burst of color to the corner of the gallery.

Chicago's Alan Koppel Gallery had many of the usual art-star suspects. Damien Hirst's "Charity (Maquette)" is a wonderful bronze sculpture that permeated me with sadness, empathy and loss. The little girl is something of an empty piggy bank, a door on her back opened and emptied while coins lie at her feet as she exudes loneliness and pain. Diane Arbus' "Xmas Tree in a Living Room" continues that lonely feeling while Al Hansen's "Sylvie Vartan Has Yes Yes Eyes" has a humor in his use of Hersey bar wrappers, but the text that is appropriated has an edge of aggression toward women, possibly Sylvie.

Marc Foxx Gallery out of Los Angeles was a strong moment of the Expo with its interactive installation of Carter Mull's "Virus [Omighty]" where visitors could pick up and inspect the mylar stills. Beyond touching, visitors are forced to walk on the over three-thousand stills to view the artwork that hangs on the walls. Anne Collier's "Caravaggio by Nikon" plays with chiaroscuro, a technique used in drawing and painting for which the Italian painter is known for. What is unique here, of course, is Collier's observation of the light and dark through a photograph (not applied with a brush, pencil or charcoal) and it is intriguing and effective.

At Richard Gray Gallery, Alex Katz's oil on linen work, "Ena and Roberto" has a Dick and Jane storybook quality and popped nicely off the wall in a space that was otherwise comprised of artwork that was mostly gray and metal. This painting's softness was a superb juxtaposition to the overall space.

Finally, Robert Koch Gallery's splintered photographs by Joachim Schmid play with gender and form, even violence, in the slicing and melding of the portraits.

Expo Chicago was successful overall with pockets very cohesive and successful moments of curation and individual works. It also seemed very well attended and received by visitors, kicking off the busy fall season of gallery openings and major museum exhibitions in the city.