Monochrome Multitudes

Thursday, Sep 22, 2022 – Jan 8, 2023

The University of Chicago
5550 S. Greenwood
Chicago, IL 60637

This exhibition offers an expansive narrative of modern monochrome, or “one color,” art. Revisiting classic modernist ideas of flatness, idealized form, and color, Monochrome Multitudes opens this fundamental artistic practice up to reveal its surprising creative possibilities.

The exhibition features monochromatic groupings—rooms of blue, white, yellow, gray, black, and red works respectively—alongside thematic sections where single colors address questions of texture, the body, urban space, and sound. Throughout, Monochrome Multitudes engages North American art in a global dialogue and emphasizes the significance of multiple media ranging from weaving to wall-painting to video, and multiple materials including footballs, pantyhose, and Vinylite.

The exhibition features approximately 100 works, drawn primarily from the Smart Museum’s and other collections at the University of Chicago, supplemented by a number of important loans primarily from UChicago alumni and Chicago-area collectors.

Throughout the galleries, students, faculty, conservators, scientists, and legal and other specialists across disciplines add their voices in written and spoken forms, providing a multitude of perspectives on the artworks on view.

Additional examples of monochrome art are on display across the University of Chicago’s campus.

In conjunction with Monochrome Multitudes, visitors are invited to explore a wider world of monochrome through works of public art and unexpected groupings in the Harper Center headquarters of the Booth School of Business, the Harris School of Public Policy’s Keller Center, David Rubenstein Forum, and other locations.

Unless noted, programs are free and open to the public and take place at the Smart Museum of Art. Some programs require advanced registration. 

Browse the full schedule of programs at



Magdalena Abakanowicz, Josef Albers, Chryssa, Bethany Collins, Barbara Crane, Leonardo Drew, Sheila Hicks, Lotte Jacobi, Sam Levi Jones, Jules Olitski, Avery Preesman, Mark Rothko, David Schutter, Lee Ufan, Amanda Williams, and Claire Zeisler, among many others.


In an effort to make this notoriously challenging art form more accessible, inclusive, and engaging, Monochrome Multitudes features supplemental audio commentary from a variety of artists, current and former museum staff, faculty, students, collectors, conservators, and members of our expanded community.


Supplemented programming will include a series of artist’s talks. The exhibition will be the classroom for a University of Chicago fall seminar co-taught by the curators. 

Image: Claire Zeisler, Triptych, 1967, Knotted and tied dyed wool. Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Joel Starrels, Sr., 1973.213a-c.