Marc Unternaehrer, “Tuba,” 2010. Performance at The Renaissance Society, Chicago. Courtesy The Renaissance Society
Focusing on the forefront of the visual arts, The Renaissance Society maintains an international reputation as one of the finest resources for contemporary art: a place to experience the art history of generations to come.
Founded in 1915 at The University of Chicago to encourage a greater understanding of culture—in the broad sense of the term “renaissance”—The Renaissance Society set out to include Chicago in the cultural liberty and controversy of Europe. Throughout the 1920s and ’30s, The Renaissance Society first presented works by Picasso, Brancusi, Mondrian, Noguchi, Miro, Moholy-Nagy, and Arp—often taken straight from the artist’s studios. The Renaissance Society’s 1934 exhibition of Alexander Calder’s mobiles and its 1936 survey of paintings and drawings by Ferdinand Leger were the first solo exhibitions of these artists in this country. Exhibitions and events in the years that followed included Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Marc Chagall, Sergei Prokofieff, and Gertrude Stein. Such bold and early commitments to this country’s most challenging and provocative art continues to be the mission of The Renaissance Society.
Exhibitions in recent decades have delved into the young and exciting studios of America and Europe. The ’70s introduced Chicago to the work of Bruce Nauman, Joseph Kosuth and Julian Schnabel; the ’80s featured the first Ed Paschke retrospective (1981); “Art and the Media,” a concept-based exhibition including the work of Jenny Holzer, Cindy Sherman, and Jeff Koons (1982); and the first Midwest exhibition of German neo-expressionists Georg Baselitz, Anselm Kiefer, and A. R. Penck (1984). Solo exhibitions have featured Louise Bourgeois (1981), Phyllis Bramson (1986), and Mike Kelley (1988).