5 Must-See Visual Arts Shows & Exhibitions to Catch This Month

By Kyle Macmillan | September 3, 2019 | Culture

Chicago’s autumn arts season kicks into high gear with a series of must-catch exhibitions.

Ship photo by Daniel Hegglin/courtesy of Kunsthaus Zug, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov Foundation

Say sayonara to summer—and with fall’s arrival comes a full slate of visual arts shows at galleries and museums across the city. Here are our fab five for the month.

More than 85 years after the death of Louis Comfort Tiffany, his name remains synonymous with beauty and innovation. The renowned American artist and designer influenced a wide swath of decorative arts in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but nowhere was his impact more pronounced than in stained glass. Eternal Light: The Sacred Stained-Glass Windows of Louis Comfort Tiffany features 11 standout examples from 1880 through 1925. Sept. 7-March 8, 2020, Driehaus Museum, 40 E. Erie St., 312.482.8933

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov rank among the most celebrated artists to emerge from the former Soviet Union, gaining international acclaim for their immersive installations. The husband-and-wife team conceived “The Ship of Tolerance” in 2005 as a way to promote diversity and combat ethnic division, and permutations have been displayed in 12 cities worldwide so far. The next version—a 65 ½-footlong vessel with sails adorned with drawings created by Chicago-area schoolchildren—will be built locally and exhibited as part of IN/SITU Outside, EXPO CHICAGO’s outdoor exhibition program. “We wanted to really cement the legacy of the project within the history of public art in Chicago,” says Stephanie Cristello, the international art fair’s artistic director. Sept. 17-Oct. 6, Polk Brothers Park, 600 E. Grand Ave.

What is progress and how do we deal with it? When do future aspirations turn into utopian myths? These are some of the questions that Hong Kong artist Samson Young explores in a trilogy of animated music videos titled collectively Silver Moon or Golden Star, Which Will You Buy of Me? The three works are the culmination of a yearlong project that began with a residency cosponsored by the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society and the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art. Sept. 18-Dec. 29, Smart Museum of Art, 5550 S. Greenwood Ave., 773.702.0200

What more is there to say about pop art? A good deal, it turns out. Pop América, 1965-1975 is a groundbreaking exhibition set to visit Northwestern University’s Block Museum of Art that argues that its reach extended beyond the United States and Great Britain to much of Latin America. Featured will be more than 100 works from such countries as Argentina, Brazil and Chile. “It’s going to be bold, bright and interesting too, because it’s pop art that people just aren’t as familiar with,” says Corinne Granof, Block’s curator of academic programs. Sept. 21-Dec. 8, 40 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston, 847.491.4000

While European exponents of geometric abstraction like Piet Mondrian and Kasimir Malevich are better known, the United States has had its own significant adherents of the style. Among the most notable was Leon Polk Smith. Featured in a new solo show will be major examples from two of his most notable series from the late 1950s to the early ’70s, Correspondence and Constellation. “The installation will express the artist’s nimble and daring shifts from rectilinear to shaped canvas work and from single-panel paintings to complex multipanel arrangements that defy conventional space,” says Valerie Carberry, a partner with the Richard Gray Gallery. Sept. 13-Nov. 23, Gray Warehouse, 2044 W. Carroll Ave., 312.883.8277

Photography by: Ship photo by Daniel Hegglin/courtesy of Kunsthaus Zug, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov Foundation