People See Paintings: Photography and Painting from the MCA Collection


Gary Hume, Untitled, 1991. Oil on panel; 77 × 52 in. (196 × 132 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Daryl Gerber Stokols and Jeff Stokols, 2002.78
Photo © MCA Chicago
Thomas Demand, Poll, 2001. Chromogenic development print and Diasec mounted on Plexiglas; 70 × 103 in. (177.8 × 261.6 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, restricted gift of Mr. and Mrs. Sanfred Koltun, 2001.5
© 2001 Thomas Demand, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn/ARS, New York
Andreas Gursky, Chicago Board of Trade II, 1999. Chromogenic development print mounted on Plexiglas with artist’s frame; 81 ½ x 132 5/8 in. (207 × 336.9 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Joseph and Jory Shapiro Fund, 1999.59
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago


Over the last 20 years, photography has diverged from its documentary and journalistic roots and has taken on characteristics often associated with painting—large scale, abstract content, and symbolic representations. As the boundaries of artistic media become blurred, artists have increasingly used photography to explore the expressive fictions that we expect from painting. In addition, looking at photography today recalls looking at paintings: one experiences a displacement of reality within the images, suspending any expectations of factual representation. People See Paintings examines how photographic images have adopted the traditions of painting—including the portrait, the still life, the historical genre as well as painting styles such as impressionism and abstraction—as manifested in a selection of works from the MCA Collection from the 1940s to the present.


This exhibition is generously sponsored by Margie and Bill Staples, Don Kaul and Barbara Bluhm-Kaul, Jim and Barbara Hanig, and Mary and Richard Gray.