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IN THIS HOUSE

Paula Crown, Michelle Grabner, Brad Killam, Tony Tasset, and James Welling 01.20.18 - 03.18.18 Generously sponsored by Raymond J. and Sally J. Allen

ELMHURST A R T MUSEUM


MIES VAN DER ROHE M CCORMICK HOUSE

Michelle Grabner, Untitled (small aluminum pan), 2017, brass, 10 x 7 x 1.5 in. Courtesy of the Artist and Green Gallery, Milwaukee.

Cover Image: Michelle Grabner, Untitled, 2018 (detail) Courtesy of the Artist and James Cohan, New York.


IN THIS HOUSE

Michelle Grabner in conversation with John McKinnon John McKinnon (JM): As the only contemporary art center in the U.S. that oversees a house designed by Mies van der Rohe, the Elmhurst Art Museum has a unique responsibility and programming opportunity. Because of this combination, the McCormick House can be a historic home and sitespecific exhibition space. Each of our rotating exhibitions, talks, and other programs build on the legacy of the house in a new way, which will form a more complex narrative over time. During each visit, our guests will see a different art or design installation, view the house through another lens, and examine new distinct facets of the home. How did you approach the unique architectural qualities of the McCormick House? Michelle Grabner (MG): I think your question speaks to the affordances of the house’s formal vocabulary and its emphasis on arrangement and organization. The McCormick House is built out of repeating geometries and the breakdown of interior/exterior, public/private delineations, therefore it tests the ability to platform the social formation of the domestic. Yet what makes it even more exciting is the fact that the home’s abstract formal vocabularies are domestically scaled and its context is suburban-oriented. What is offered as an exhibition space is neither a white cube nor an intimate domestic dwelling but instead an in-between space. Therefore it is the ideal place to foreground the abstract qualities of common domestic things: curtains, sinks, blankets, egg cartons, and other familiar domestic objects. JM: You are in a unique position since you and Brad ran an avant-garde gallery at your Oak Park home for fifteen years. What sparked this and how did it become entangled with your lives? MG: As artists Brad and I choose to embrace the conventions of family and the stability of suburban life as a base for alternative thinking, art-making, and exhibitions. From 1999 - 2015 we hosted hundreds of artists and exhibitions in two small converted exhibition spaces in our backyard on Lake Street and Harvey Avenue in Oak Park, IL. The suburbs may not be a traditional site of artmaking and distribution, but they do offer security, protection and intimacy. So our thinking was to offer artists an opportunity to think about their work, display, and exhibition in these condition, and in spaces adjacent to a house in the suburbs. I always bring up the example of the artist David Reed who exhibited his drawings for the first time at The Suburban, testing their merit in the hospitable environment of Oak Park before committing them to a full exhibition at a museum in Europe. JM: Did the location of the western suburbs change your thinking about programming?  How did artists feel about it as opposed to a city venue? MG: We have always experienced a great deal of enthusiasm from international artists who enjoyed our proximity to Chicago. It is also an opportunity to visit the American Interior, instead of the cultural centers on 2


the US coasts. Some of our most successful projects, such as the collective BANK from London and exhibition by the Irish artist Padraig Timony had little or no visitors to the exhibition. Then there are artists of note, such as Luc Tuymans, Kay Rosen, Katharina Grosse who compellingly embraced the situation as an alternative to the professionalized exhibition. Conversely, artistic experimentation under these different conditions are much less appreciated by artists who already have a relationship to the region. While we never really altered programming to respond to artist’s expectations of exhibiting at an artist-run space in the suburbs, I do think that one of the most compelling observations over the long and on-going project —whether in Oak Park or now in Milwaukee— is to see how values, power, and influence shifts in the world and how that impacts our artist’s work and the merit of engaging in an artist-run gallery. JM: The McCormick House was originally designed as a prototype for prefab housing, which we referenced through a text (IN THIS HOUSE) lifted from one of its advertisements. Mies had been developing his ideas for several years before completing this home in 1952. I'm curious how you feel about some of this, since you also live in a mid-century home. MG: The house we live in was designed by Mendel Glickman who was Frank Lloyd Wright’s engineer and a professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Oklahoma with Bruce Goff and Herb Greene. He only built two homes. Ours is extremely small with an emphasis on cantilevers that horizontally cut into the wooded acreage. Its design decisions and materials engage a Wisconsin landscape while the McCormick House and its design originated for the social conditions of a suburban community. While both our home and the McCormick house are modest and human-scale, their heightened sense of design underscores their context. JM: The exhibition started with an invitation I extended to you. Could you explain why you then proposed to add the work of several other artists? MG: It is unusual to see a domestic dwelling articulated by the work of only one artist or one designer. Homes host personal collections comprised of idiosyncratic objects. This is what makes them different than institutions. JM: What about your collaborations with your husband Brad? Is that similar? MG: Yes, I think that is right. We juxtapose our very distinct visual languages when we work together. Your question has me considering that the large supports that constitute our collaborative sculptures are domestic metaphors. JM: Thank you for designing a site-specific curtain for the McCormick House. The museum is planning to restore the home back to its 1952 specifications, so we took the opportunity to research the original curtain hanging system. I’m thrilled we can find ways to build on the past while outlining unique features of the home through installations such as your gingham patterned piece. 3


Tony Tasset, Domestic Abstraction (Green), 1988-2013, hide and wood, 29 x 29 x 2 in. Courtesy of the Artist and Kavi Gupta, Chicago.

MG: The curtain is an architecturally-scaled abstraction inline with my gingham paintings. Of course it occupies a contrasting material form that repeatedly pleats across an architectural plane instead of rearticulating geometrical flatness like the paintings. The fabric I selected is not a true gingham weave but instead a print of a gingham weave. It is a simulacrum of the simple two-color thread weaving process, the same way that the paintings are representations of gingham fabric. Because gingham is also a generic, even cliched bourgeois pattern the curtain symbolically domestics while emphasizing the houses geometries. JM: Many people know your paintings, but you've been developing metal sculpture in the last few years. Can you talk about this shift? MG: The cast bronze, brass, and iron works are an attempt to monumentalize and make enduring the textiles and domestic materials that I have been using as the sources for my paintings. It evolved out of thinking through the ethical obligations of collecting all this material and asking myself what do I do with it after it has offered up its patterns. JM: On my visit to the Kohler Foundry to see the work in progress, I was also struck by how physically different working with metal must be from your patterned paintings. MG: Knitting, paintings, and metal-casting offer drastically different forms of labor and attention. I am learning that my brain and my muscles need these varied engagements with the material world. 4


James Welling, Farnsworth, 2006, chromogenic print.

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JM: I understand some of the same textiles that provided abstract designs for your paintings, also developed into several types of sculptural molds, both flat and folded. Could you explain this process? MG: In the foundry at Kohler Co. I was making two-part bonded sand molds. The material I was using as patterns only slightly deteriorated in this process unlike the materials that I use in a lost wax process where the textiles get burned out of there mold. At Kohler I would use a textile to create an all-over surface relief on a flat panel that resulted in a series of metal paintings. Then I would take the same textiles and cast them in a folded and three dimensional compositions. JM: The household objects such as pans, sinks, and egg cartons seem to be newly considered inspiration points for you. How did you arrive at them? MG: I was also drawn to these materials because of the patterns and geometries that they offer up. I am also considering the degree in which these objects can be esteemed as purely abstract form. JM: Together the works in the show celebrate a minimal formal language, while also being exhibited in a building designed by Mies van der Rohe, who is famous for saying "less is more". Can you speak to your thoughts in putting together this group of artists?  MG: The “less” in this exhibition is the unburdening of familiar objects from their function.

Paula Crown, SOLO TOGETHER, 2017, painted plaster Courtesy of PAHC/ studio

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Page 1-34 2 of the Page Bensenville Brochure, Circa 1955. Figure 2 ofRow theHouse Bensenville Row House Brochure, the Living Room, and the image has been reversed.

Heritage Architecture Studio, LLC 7


Circa 1955. The lower Photograph is of Isabella sitting in

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Current Floor Plan

MIES VAN DER ROHE M CCORMICK HOUSE


Brad Killam and Michelle Grabner Untitled, 2018 graphite, gouache, cotton on paper 11 x 14 in.

Brad Killam and Michelle Grabner Untitled, 2018 graphite, gouache, cotton on paper 11 x 14 in.

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6 Michelle Grabner Untitled (wash rag), 2017 brass 9 x 6 x 5 in.

4 Michelle Grabner Untitled (wash rag), 2017 brass 10 x 7 x 3 in. 5 Michelle Grabner Untitled (wash rag), 2017 brass 9 x 8 x 4 in.

Brad Killam and Michelle Grabner Untitled, 2017-18 fasteners, aluminium rulers, galvanized steel, oil on burlap panel d: 100 in.

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All works by: Paula Crown courtesy of PAHC/ studio Michelle Grabner courtesy of the Artist and Green Gallery, Milwaukee and James Cohan, New York. Tony Tasset courtesy of the Artist and Kavi Gupta, Chicago.

CHECKLIST

Michelle Grabner Untitled (egg carton), 2017 black iron and glass 4 x 12 x 3 in. (x2)

Paula Crown SOLO TOGETHER, 2017 painted plaster dimensions variable

Tony Tasset Domestic Abstraction, 1986 zebra hide and wood 14.5 x 16.5 in.

Michelle Grabner Untitled, 2018 printed canvas, fabricated by Colleen Killam dimensions variable

James Welling Farnsworth, 2006 four chromogenic prints 12 x 15 in. (each)

Tony Tasset Domestic Abstraction (Blue), 1988-2013 hide and wood 29 x 29 x 2 in.

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20 Tony Tasset Domestic Abstraction, 1986 hide and wood 25.57 x 35 in. 21 Michelle Grabner Untitled (folded blanket), 2017 brass 21 x 16 x 5 in.

Tony Tasset Domestic Abstraction (Green), 1988-2013 hide and wood 29 x 29 x 2 in.

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Brad Killam and Michelle Grabner Restraining Oli, 1996 video, 00:09:43

19 Michelle Grabner Untitled (folded blanket), 2017 brass 25 x 14 x 6 in.

Tony Tasset Domestic Abstraction, 1986 zebra hide and wood 13 x 17 in.

16 Michelle Grabner Untitled (egg carton), 2017 black iron and glass 12 x 12 x 3 in. 17 Michelle Grabner Untitled (heavy pan), 2017 brass 13 x 10 x 3.5 in. 18 Michelle Grabner Untitled, 2018 oil on burlap panel 70 x 47 in.

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8 Michelle Grabner Untitled (folded Blanket), 2017 brass 23 x 11 x 5 in.

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Paula Crown SOLO TOGETHER, 2017 Installation map


Michelle Grabner (b. 1962, Oshkosh, WI) is an artist, writer, and curator based in Fox Point, Wisconsin. She is the Crown Family Professor of Painting and Drawing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Solo and group exhibitions of her work have been held around the world. She co-directs the exhibition spaces The Poor Farm (Little Wolf, WI) and The Suburban (previously in Oak Park, IL, currently in Milwaukee, WI) with her husband and collaborator Brad Killam. Grabner is the Artistic Director of FRONT International, the Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art. She curated the 2016 Portland Biennial and co-curated the 2014 Whitney Biennial. Brad Killam’s (1964) work has been featured in 44 solo and twoperson exhibitions (collaborations with artist Michelle Grabner) since 1991. In 1999 he co-founded and currently co-directs the artist-run space, The Suburban. In 2008 he co-founded, and currently co-directs Poor Farm Exhibitions and Press in Little Wolf, Wisconsin. He received his MFA degree from the University of Illinois Chicago in 1992. He is an Associate Professor of Fine Arts at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, IL. Paula Crown (b. Marblehead, MA) is a multimedia artist living and working in Chicago, Illinois with a practice encompassing drawing, painting, video, and sculpture. Crown earned her M.F.A. in painting and drawing in 2012 from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She also holds an A.B. magna cum laude in management science from Duke University. Her installation SOLO TOGETHER was featured in her most recent solo exhibition at 10 Hanover Gallery in London. Tony Tasset (b. 1960 Cincinnati) is an artist based in Chicago. He received his BFA from the Art Academy of Cincinnati and his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He received a Louis Comfort Tiffany Award (1989), a Guggenheim Fellowship (2006) and was included in the Whitney Biennial (2014). Tasset recently retired from his position as a Professor of Art at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is represented by Kavi Gupta Gallery, Chicago. James Welling (b. 1951, Hartford, CT) is an artist based in New York. He is represented by David Zwirner Gallery in New York City. His recent solo exhibitions include: James Welling: Seascape (2017) at David Zwirner Gallery, James Welling: Chronology (2017) at Marian Goodman Gallery in Paris, France, and James Welling: Metamorphosis (2017) at the Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst in Ghent, Belgium. His work has also been featured in the 2nd Chicago Architecture Biennial: Make New History (2017) in Chicago and The Arcades: Contemporary Art and Walter Benjamin (2017) at the Jewish Museum in New York City. 13


McCormick House interior, circa 1952 Courtesy of Hedrich Blessing Archive, Chicago Historical Society

The McCormick House (1952) is the cornerstone of the Elmhurst Art Museum’s collection. It is the largest of the three single-family homes Mies van der Rohe designed in the United States. The home is a rare and important example of his mature style, incorporating elements of his celebrated designs for the Farnsworth House (1951) and 860-880 Lake Shore Drive (1951). During the construction of the Lake Shore Drive apartment towers, Mies introduced his ideas for prefabricated row houses to the developers of the project, Herbert S. Greenwald and Robert Hall McCormick III. Mies had been developing plans for massproduced modular housing for a few years, including designs for other clients in the Chicagoland area, but this was the first prototype to be built. The single-family house is composed of two of the proposed prefab homes arranged to create two separate wings, one for the parents and one for the children. McCormick attempted to promote and sell the mass-produced modular houses in the suburbs of Chicago, however they did not have enough buyers to begin construction.

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Elmhurst Art Museum is a welcoming center to view and experience the visual arts of our time. The Museum galleries, Mies van der Rohe’s McCormick House, and Education Center enrich people’s lives by deepening their knowledge of art, architecture and design, increasing their understanding of the relevance of visual art in our society and sparking the development of individual creativity.

ELMHURST A R T MUSEUM 150 S Cottage Hill Ave, Elmhurst, IL 60126 630.834.0202 | elmhurstartmuseum.org

Museum Hours Mondays: CLOSED Tuesdays-Thursdays: 11am - 5pm Fridays: 11am - 7pm Saturdays and Sundays: 11am - 5pm

MIES VAN DER ROHE M CCORMICK HOUSE

Profile for Elmhurst Art Museum

IN THIS HOUSE: Paula Crown, Michelle Grabner, Brad Killam, Tony Tasset, and James Welling  

This group show in the McCormick House will feature new sculpture and a site-specific curtain by acclaimed artist, writer, and curator Miche...

IN THIS HOUSE: Paula Crown, Michelle Grabner, Brad Killam, Tony Tasset, and James Welling  

This group show in the McCormick House will feature new sculpture and a site-specific curtain by acclaimed artist, writer, and curator Miche...

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