Fifty years after their last show, the Art Institute of Chicago presents the first major survey of the Hairy Who, a group of six Chicago Imagists. Similar to New York Pop Art in their use of imagery from advertising, Chicago Imagists differed from Pop artists in their creation intensely personal work. Unlike the cooly intellectual Pop artists, Imagists’ exuberant, irreverent art could be fun, bizarre and unsettling. Unconventional artists who used bold graphics, grotesquerie, surrealism and humor, the Hairy Who revolutionized the 1960’s Chicago art world.
In 1964, Jim Nutt, Gladys Nilsson, James Falconer, Art Green, Suellen Rocca and Karl Wirsum organized a group show at the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago. Joking around while brainstorming a name for the group show, they came up with Hairy Who? Mentored by their School of the Art Institute professors, the group produced vivid, irreverent work. Inspired by comics, advertising, art brut and personal experience, each artists created works of startling, visceral intensity.