The Chicago Imagists of the 1960s and ’70s created colorful, energetic paintings and sculptures that often riffed on vernacular sources (comic books, pinball machines) and the eccentricities of American culture.
First, it’s between the idiosyncratically figurative Chicago Imagists (Roger Brown, Jim Nutt, Gladys Nilsson) and some of the outsider greats they discovered, recovered or championed: Ramírez, Joseph Yoakum and P.M. Wentworth. The back and forth between Brown’s meticulous landscape forms and Yoakum’s is especially rewarding.
Jumping ahead a few decades to the ferment of 1960s counterculture, Outliers and American Vanguard Art traces the entanglement of schooled and unschooled artists at a time of momentous cultural upheaval. A signal example is the work of the Chicago Imagists, a group that included Jim Nutt, Gladys Nilsson, and Barbara Rossi. Their attraction to raw, self-taught mavericks is encapsulated in Nutt’s praise of autodidact artist Joseph Yoakum and other outsiders: “Yoakum’s work for me is fantastic, true fantasy, and I came to learn that I had a right to my own when I realized I was willing to accept his.
The Face on the Canvas and Other Mysteries
By Ted Loos
ONE would think that the artist Jim Nutt would have a lot to say about the subject he’s been painting over and over, day after day, for the last 25 years: the off-kilter face of an imaginary woman with an impossibly monumental nose, an image that is apparently never too far from his mind.
One would be wrong.
Gladys Nilsson and Jim Nutt
by Richard Hull
Jim Nutt and Gladys Nilsson are often described as “Chicago artists,” and it’s true that their work formed during a particular moment when Chicago Imagism appeared in the mid ’60s with the three Hairy Who shows at the Hyde Park Art Center. But I would argue that for the last 40 years Jim and Gladys, who met as students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and have been living together ever since, could have been living anywhere. With fierce independence and a nonchalant attitude toward reigning trends in contemporary art, they create paintings and drawings that root from an intense need to make things, and to make them right.
by David St.-Lascaux
Jim Nutt is back in New York, sans straight jacket. Once a wildman, he was part of Chicago's Imagist/ Hairy Who movement, back in '66 when Hairy meant huge, when Ed "Big Daddy" Roth was customizing petroleum-powered hot rods with giant ratfinks, chrome pipes, metalflake paint jobs and two-tone flames, shortly after which S. Clay Wilson introduced the maniacal Checkered Demon and the ravishing Star-Eyed Stella. Meanwhile, in New York, the influential, serious works created by Lichtenstein, Oldenburg, Rosenquist, and Warhol-also influences by commercial imagery-were being digested. Ans what a contrast using the same cultural raw materials: the Midwest output infantile, maybe; the East Coast oeuvre just possibly uptight.
Refined Nutt: A Jim Nutt retrospective at Nolan
by Deven Golden
Jim Nutt is part of the Chicago Imagists group which emerged in the 1960s as a regional version of Pop Art. His fellows included Ed Paschke, Karl Wirsum, Barbara Rossi, Roger Brown, Suellen Rocca, Christina Ramberg, Ed Flood, Art Green, and Nutt's wife Gladys Nilsson, almost all of them students of Ray Yoshida's at the School of the Art Institute. Unlike the New York Pop movement, the Chicago variety took pop culture as a starting point and then diverged in two important ways. First, its focus was on a much darker, more sexually charged imagery such as that found in burlesque photographs, wrestling posters, underground comics, and pinball machines. Second, where the New York variety presented a cool, decidedly non-expressionist style of rendering, Nutt and the other Chicagoans reveled in a controlled but highly personal approach to drawing. Nutt's earliest work in this mini-retrospective, Miss Sue Port, 1967, in acrylic on Plexiglas, presents an iconic example of this. Part freak show poster, part Pinball machine glass, it features an electric yellow androgynous personage with one extremely large, pointed breast, bulging cod-piece, truncated arms, a horror show face, and a massive, corseted posterior. A potent cocktail of revulsion and attraction, this is precisely the kind of work that brought the Chicago Imagists to critical attention.
Jim Nutt: 'Trim' and Other Works: 1967-2010
Art in Review
By Roberta Smith
Jim Nutt works slowly, so an exhibition of three new, and newish, paintings and seven drawings mostly finished this year feels like a gift. The works are all portraits of women. They look back to Van Eyck, Ingres and Salvador Dalí for their extreme refinement and lucidity, but not for their intense realism.
Jim Nutt: “Trim” and Other Works: 1967-2010
By Mario Naves
Jim Nutt's paintings and drawings, subject of an adumbrated overview at David Nolan Gallery, are testimony, underplay
Jim Nutt's paintings and drawings, subject of an adumbrated overview at David Nolan Gallery, are testimony, underplayed and undeniable to the vital role craft plays in generating aesthetic vitality.
Goings on about Town: Art
The wacky Chicagoan has begun to look canonical. A pocket retrospective revisits rowdydow work from Nutt's days as a "Hairy Who" Surrealist, in the sixties, and then jumps to his recent fantasy portraits, in smooth paint or careful pencil, of oddly configured women. With aromatic color that extends to beautifully crafted frames, the pictures evoke the clenched intensity of icons. They convince a viewer that an exactly squashed nose or a twisted brow is a matter of some formal and meaningful, critical import. Call it geek neo-classicism.
Jim Nutt, "Trim and Other Works: 1967–2010"
By Paul Laster
A founder of Chicago's Hairy Who group presents a little bit of his past and his present.
A Pop artist with a Surrealistic bent, Jim Nutt is widely recognized as a founding member of the Hairy Who, a group of artists who were part of the Chicago Imagists movement of the 1960s and '70s. Influenced by cartoons and advertisements, Nutt started out making comical and erotically charged paintings and drawings that wryly commented on the human condition. For his third solo show at David Nolan Gallery, the artist presents eight offbeat works from his early career, plus ten peculiar portraits from the past decade of imaginary women.
by Jerry Saltz
Back in the late 1970s, when I was a young artist (yes, I was once one, too) and still living in Chicago, Jim Nutt was the enemy. I hated his work, It stood for everything I - then an Artforum-obsessed, insecure Midwesterner - was against: It wasn't about materials, process, or abstraction. It wasn't post-minimal, rigorous, or Bruce Nauman enough. Instead. it was surreal, funky, and festively colored. Bizarre characters did batty things in shallow space. Women with teeny, atavistic arms gaped at men with squished penises as pint-sized figures darted about like crazy wraiths.
Jim Nutt at Nolan/Eckman
by David Ebony
For the past decade or so, Jim Nutt has concentrated on painting schematic heads of imaginary women, which he refers to as "portraits." While perusing this wonderful exhibition of three recent, medium-size acrylic paintings and a dozen related pencil drawings, I kept thinking of Sargent's famous quote, "A portrait is a likeness in which there is something wrong about the mouth." In the works on view, Nutt seems to have reached a new level of refinement that at ties recalls Ingres's technique. But the 66-year-old Chicago Imagist pioneer, known for his inventive approach to the figure, has lost none of his penchant for outrageous distortion, nor his sense of humor.
Art in Review: Jim Nutt: Portraits
by Roberta Smith
It's not too early in the season to place this show, dominated by Jim Nutt's impeccably chiseled, feather-light portrait drawings from the 1990's, on a list of the season's best. Mr. Nutt, who turned 60 last year, is the leader of the Hairy Who or Chicago Imagists. He is also one of the most original, if least appreciated, artists of a generation born in the late 1930's that includes such lights as Richard Serra, Eva Hesse, Ed Ruscha, Bruce Nauman, Lucas Samaras, Sigmar Polke and Frank Stella. In addition Mr. Nutt is working at the height of his powers.