Early Fall Art Highlights

The fall art season kicks off Friday, September 9. Openings take place across the city in gallery centers and institutions, with the exhibitions on view for the next several weeks. The fall kick-off is perhaps the most well known focal point of the city's visual arts calendar, as it offers a chance to get back into the galleries, to meet artists, mingle with friends and to experience what is new.  This season the galleries are unveiling their top artists and most thoughtful shows with a wide range of offerings.

There are also some stellar shows taking place in area museums, and many cultural venues and institutions are partnering with international art fair EXPO Chicago for this year's EXPO Art Week, which begins September 19 and runs through the fair (Sept 22-25.) 

All eyes are on Chicago right now, and there is so much exciting art to see and enjoy, so many perspectives to view and so many artists to celebrate. 

See you around town! 


Gallery Show Highlights

full openings and exhibitions list here


Theaster Gates: Heavy Sketches at Richard Gray Gallery

Friday, Sep 30 - Nov 20, 2016

A solo exhibition of new bronze and mixed material sculptures by Theaster Gates.

McArthur Binion: Seasons at Kavi Gupta Gallery 

Saturday, Sep 17 - Nov 22, 2016

To be seasoned is to be experienced—seeing the benefits of knowledge gained over times distill in one’s work. For McArthur Binion, committed to the tension of colors both art-historical and racial, the seasons and decades have infused his practice. In Seasons, these stubborn crosshatches, which served to blur and distort both their weave and the photocopied numbers and names behind them (gleaned from Binion’s personal address book of 1970s New York), have given way to the grid.

Roger Brown & Andy Warhol: Pop Artists, Subversive Politics at Kavi Gupta Gallery

Friday, Sep 23 - Nov 22, 2016

Juxtaposing Brown and Warhol provides opportunities for rethinking the scope of pop art, which takes cues from a diverse array of aesthetic traditions and conceptual techniques.

Tetsuya Noda: A Retrospective at Andrew Bae Gallery

Throughout the 50 years of his art career and 500 works he produced under a single title Diary, Tetsuya Noda never lost his affinity for novel inspiration.

Friday, Sep 9 - Oct 29, 2016

Rhona Hoffman 40 Years, Part 1 at Rhona Hoffman Gallery

Friday, Sep 16 - Oct 22, 2016. Opening reception: Friday, September 16, 5-7:30pm

This group exhibition is the first in a series of three exhibitions celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Rhona Hoffman Gallery.

Selections from the Steve and Karen Berkowitz Collection at Carl Hammer Gallery 

Friday, Sep 9 - Oct 29, 2016

A range of works from the personal collection of the founder of Marwen and his wife.

City Space + Stray Light: Clarissa Bonet at Catherine Edelman Gallery

Friday, Sep 9 - Oct 29, 2016

The concept of place, and our relationship to it, is at the heart of Clarissa Bonet’s work. Born and raised in Tampa, Florida, after moving to Chicago in 2010, she was stunned by the isolation she felt among the throngs of people rushing along the sidewalks. This body of work examines individuality in a large city.

Christa Donner: Our New System at Gallery 400 

Friday, Sep 9 - Oct 22, 2016

Chicago-based artist Christa Donner expands her virtuosic body of drawings concerning the complexities of the human body to explore collectivities and spaces for new forms of human sociality. Donner’s practice has grown out of visual research and inquiry originating in interviews and dialogic workshops with individuals and communities.

STONE! 1,000,000 BC - AD 1940 at Douglas Dawson Gallery

Friday, Sep 9 - Oct 15, 2016

Prehistoric stone tools and weapons from Europe, Asia, Oceania, Africa, and the Americas are on view at this unique space across from the Art Institute. 

Jamie Adams: Porch and a Vista at Zolla/Lieberman (one of multiple shows opening at the gallery)

Friday, Sep 9 - Oct 1, 2016

New figurative paintings of the artist's view of pop society.

James Mesplé: Gem Myths at Printworks

Friday, Sep 9 - Oct 15, 2016

The artist's final show at Printworks.  Known for intensive research into the themes that shape his vibrant exhibitions, this show focuses on gem stones and related mythology. 

Michiko Itatani: Starry Night Encounter at Linda Warren Projects

Friday, Sep 9 - Oct 22, 2016

A solo exhibition by one of Chicago’s most prolific and esteemed painters, Michiko Itatani. Presenting a wide selection of new work, chosen from several epic series or “chapters."

Unbroken: Art After Injury at Bridgeport Art Center 

Opening September 9, 6:30–9:30PM. Opening tickets are $30 in advance, $35 at the door

This exhibit is a glimpse of the accomplishments, pain, happiness, loss, and beauty of artists with spinal cord injury and paralysis. The show celebrates Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month. 

River North Design District Gallery Night Walk

Friday, September 9 5-9pm

Creative neighbors of the River North Gallery District open their showrooms to the public and feature contemporary art in design settings. Special events include a Champagne kick-off and live art.


Birth Death Breath: An Inflatable Opera by Diane Christiansen and Jeanne Dunning at Elmhurst Art Museum

Thursday, Sep 22 - Nov 27, 2016

Elmhurst Art Museum presents the world premiere of Birth Death Breath, an opera "performed" by inflatable Christmas lawn decorations in various stages of inflation and deflation.

Master Drawings Unveiled: 25 Years of Major Acquisitions at the Art Institute of Chicago 

Thru  Jan 29, 2017

Chicago is renowned for its collections of master drawings both publicly and privately held. The Art Institute of Chicago has been collecting these works for over a century and has substantial world-class holdings—particularly with regard to drawings of the French and Italian schools. This exhibition highlights a selection of master drawings from the 17th to mid-20th century that have been purchased by the museum over the past 25 years but have not yet had occasion to be shown. It is also the final show curated by recently retired department head Suzanne McCullagh 

Every Building in Baghdad: the Rifat Chadirji Archives at the Arab Image Foundation, on view at the Graham Foundation 

Thursday, Sep 15 - Dec 31, 2016

This exhibition examines the work of Iraqi architect Rifat Chadirji through the collection of his original photographs and building documents held at the Arab Image Foundation in Beirut.


Urth: Ben Rivers at the Renaissance Society 

Saturday, Sep 10 - Nov 6, 2016

Urth, Rivers’s first solo presentation in the United States, presents new and recent moving image works. The exhibition takes its title from the Old Norse word suggesting the twisted threads of fate.

There was a Whole Collection Made: Photography from Lester and Betty Guttman at the Smart Museum of Art 

Thursday, Sep 22 - Dec 30, 2016

Artists included in the show include William Henry Fox Talbot, David Octavius Hill, Hannah Hoch, Man Ray, Laszlo Maholy-Nagy, Brassai, Berenice Abbott, Helen Levitt, Diane Arbus, Malick Sidibe, Chuck Close, Carrie Mae Weems, among many others.