Human Flesh Through the Lens of the “Master of the Macabre” in Chicago

Ivan Albright. Into the World There Came a Soul Called Ida, 1929–30. Gift of Ivan Albright. © The Art Institute of Chicago.
Ivan Albright. “Into the World, There Came a Soul Called Ida,” 1929–1930. Gift of Ivan Albright. © The Art Institute of Chicago.

“Flesh,” hyper-charged with outrage and glutted with admiration, is a mind-altering exhibition that will be showcased at The Art Institute of Chicago from May 4th through August 5th, 2018. The show will bring together some of the most brilliant masterpieces of the Chicago native artist Ivan Albright (1897-1983) tearing you between praising him as a true “master of the macabre,” and reporting him as a decaying flesh addict.

More than thirty scrupulously executed and exaggeratedly realistic depicted works of art, created by one of the most provocative artists of the twentieth century, will expose the human body’s vulnerability disclosing the true reason the magic realist painter has been hovering between fame and notoriety even posthumously. “There is a frightful fascination about [Albright’s paintings] that makes the beholder return to the scene of the torture,” an art critic wrote in 1931 commenting on the American painter’s works.

Albright exhibited some of his creations for the first time in 1930. His studies in architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, as well as his exposure as a medical draftsman in a Nantes’ Hospital in France during World War I deeply affected the artist’s stance towards age, disease, and death.

Some of his most celebrated works are Into the World There Came a Soul Called Ida, which is a portrait of a woman studying her ravaged appearance in a hand mirror and Portrait of Mary Block. Other Albright’s magnificent creations include a painting depicting a door on which a funeral wreath is hung entitled That Which I Should Have Done I Did Not Do (The Door), The Picture of Dorian Gray, created for a 1945 Hollywood film adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s novel, And Man Created God in His Own Image, as well as an eerie series of self-portraits.

Flesh: Ivan Albright at the Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute of Chicago, Gallery 273
111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois
May 4, 2018 – August 5, 2018
Open daily 10:30-5:00, Thursday until 8:00
+1 (312) 443-3600