The City Lost and Found: Capturing New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, 1960-1980

The Art Institute of Chicago revisits the social and political turmoil of American cities in the 1960s and ’70s with this groundbreaking examination of the changing landscape of American cities during the 1960s and ’70s through the intersection of photography, film, architecture, and urban planning. Breaking from traditional disciplinary boundaries, the exhibition highlights the collective impact of practices from a wide range of makers and thinkers—from documentary photographers, urban planners, architects and filmmakers to performance artists—focused on the artistic and social potential of urban places. Developed by the Art Institute and the Princeton University Art Museum, the exhibition examines this seminal period of crisis and creativity in America’s three largest cities through more than 150 photographs, films, collages, sculptural works, and ephemera drawn from the collection of the Art Institute as well as from lenders across the country.

The American city of the 1960s and ’70s witnessed seismic physical changes and social transformations, from shifting demographics and political upheaval to the aftermath of decades of urban renewal. This exhibition charts an important shift in photographic and cinematic practice that moved away from aerial views and sweeping panoramas to represent cities through in-depth and close-range studies of streets, neighborhoods, and seminal urban events. In turn, these new images and ideas capturing the specificity and complexity of the urban environment led a new generation of architects, urban planners, and sociologists to challenge long-held attitudes about the future of inner city neighbourhoods.

Running from October 26, 2014 to January 11, 2015, the exhibition features projects by practitioners known for their profound connection to particular cities, such as Romare Bearden in New York, Julius Shulman in Los Angeles, and Art Sinsabaugh in Chicago, while also recontextualizing works by internationally renowned artists, filmmakers, and architects, including Robert Adams, Reyner Banham, Bruce Davidson, Hans Haacke, Allan Kaprow, Helen Levitt, Gordon Matta-Clark, James Nares, Barnett Newman, Martha Rosler, Paul Rudolph, Ed Ruscha, Thomas Struth, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Wolf Vostell, Garry Winogrand, and Shadrach Woods. Blurring the line between artists, activists and journalists, these works demonstrate connections between art practices and the political, social and geographic realities of American cities in the 1960s and ’70s.

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