In March 2019, Goldsmiths CCA will present the first significant exhibition in the UK in almost 40 years of work by the Chicago Imagists. In the mid-1960s, Chicago saw an explosion of artistic activity centred around a small group of artists who would later become known as the Chicago Imagists. Their distinct and lively visual style would go on to influence some of the most important artists of the 20th century. Co-curated with Rosie Cooper (De La Warr Pavilion), and organised by Hayward Gallery Touring, Southbank Centre, this exhibition will focus on 14 artists and will feature painting, objects, drawings, prints and ephemera, highlighting their individual styles as well as their shared references and moments of connection.

Having mostly studied in proximity to one another at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, they shared an enthusiasm for Surrealism and Art Brut, comic books, non-Western and ‘self-taught’ artists, commercial advertising and the music, markets, sideshows and architecture of the city they lived in. They learned from teachers at the School of The Art Institute, and in turn their teachers learned from them. The strong bonds developed at art school has kept this group of artists affiliated under the moniker ‘Chicago Imagism’, despite the diversity of their work. This exhibition will focus on their work from the 1960s when they first met, through to the late 1970s, when many of them moved away, stylistically and geographically.

This exhibition includes Chicago Imagists Jim Nutt (1938), Gladys Nilsson (1940), Roger Brown (1941–1997), Ed Paschke (1939–2004), Karl Wirsum (1939), Suellen Rocca (1943), Christina Ramberg (1946–1995), Phil Hanson (1943), Sarah Canright (1941), Ed Flood (1944–1985), Ray Yoshida (1930–2008), Barbara Rossi (1940), Jim Falconer (1943) and Art Green (1941).

Recent group exhibitions include Famous Artists From Chicago 1965–1975, Fondazione Prada, Milan 2017, The Next Generation: Chicago Imagists from the Smart Collection, Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago 2016, What Nerve! Alternative Figures in American Art, 1960 to the Present, RISD Museum, Providence, Rhode Island 2014.

This exhibition is co-curated with Rosie Cooper, Head of Exhibitions, De La Warr Pavilion, and will travel there in June 2019.

How Chicago! is organised by Hayward Gallery Touring in collaboration with Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art and De La Warr Pavilion.

How Chicago! is supported by the Terra Foundation for American Art as part of Art Design Chicago, an initiative exploring Chicago’s art and design legacy.