Beloved Chicago Imagist Barbara Rossi Dies at 82



Barbara Rossi, yr and placement unknown (photograph by William H. Bengtson, courtesy the Kohler Basis)

Barbara Rossi, a former Catholic nun turned artist, died on August 24 on the age of 82. Her demise was introduced in a Facebook post by the John Michael Kohler Arts Middle, the Wisconsin museum that has owned her assortment and library since 2020.

Rossi was related to the Chicago Imagists group of the Nineteen Sixties and ’70s and taught generations of scholars on the Faculty of the Artwork Institute of Chicago (SAIC) since 1971.

Rossi was identified for her meticulously constructed multimedia works anchored in reverse acrylic paintings on Plexiglas. She was celebrated for her playful and surreal artistry, a stability of cartoonish humor and sensual abstraction that took form in portrait-like photographs of colourful, distorted figures.

Born on September 20, 1940, in Chicago, Rossi was raised within the metropolis’s Berwyn suburb in a Roman Catholic family. Rising up with a long-held willpower to commit her life to the church as a nun, she obtained her Bachelor’s diploma from St. Xavier School in 1964. In 1968, Rossi pursued a graduate schooling in portray at SAIC with the help of the Catholic church and obtained her Grasp of Positive Arts in 1970. She studied beneath Ray Yoshida and Whitney Halstead, who taught artwork by a non-hierarchical lens that targeted on non-Western art movements and anti-conformist aesthetics.

Rossi was additionally influenced by her printmaking trainer Vera Berdich, who taught most of the Imagist artists who studied at SAIC, together with her friends Roger Brown, Christina Ramberg, and Philip Hanson. Impressed by the works she noticed at Chicago galleries and museums through the ’60s, Rossi’s early paintings largely comprised two-dimensional pencil drawings dotted with the occasional stray limb or corporeal bulge.

Following a 1968 scholar exhibition throughout her first yr at SAIC, the artist was invited by curator and artist Don Baum to take part within the 1970 Marriage Chicago Style exhibition on the community-based Hyde Park Artwork Middle. She additionally additionally half in Chicago Antigua (1971), the ultimate installment of Baum’s authentic Chicago Imagist reveals on the heart.

Within the late ’70s and all through the ’80s, Rossi’s work more and more drew affect from the shapes and themes featured in Indian portray traditions after the artist made a variety of journeys to the nation. Whereas her works remained summary, Rossi turned towards rounded strains and spiraling shapes to compose amorphous characters with recurring physique components in inside architectural settings.

Set up view of Barbara Rossi: Poor Traits (2015) (photograph by Maris Hutchinson, courtesy New Museum)

Rossi exhibited her work in group reveals exterior of Chicago together with on the Whitney Museum of American Artwork in New York, the Madison Museum of Modern Artwork in Wisconsin, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Artwork. In 1991, she was the topic of a solo exhibition on the College of Chicago’s Renaissance Society museum.

At age 75, she obtained a solo present on the New Museum in New York titled Poor Traits, which featured a choice of graphite and coloured pencil drawings, along with her reverse Plexiglas work. Her works are held within the everlasting collections of museums throughout the nation together with the Artwork Institute of Chicago, the Madison Museum of Modern Artwork, and the Smithsonian American Artwork Museum.


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