The Judith Neisser Collection at Art Institute of Chicago

Contemporary Collecting: The Judith Neisser Collection
Art Institute of Chicago
February 13 – May 22, 2011

Blinky Palermo
The Art Institute of Chicago is pleased to present Contemporary Collecting: The Judith Neisser Collection–the first-ever public exhibition of works from Chicago collector Judith Neisser’s outstanding private collection. Rooted in the 1960s and 1970s but continuing through today’s most contemporary works, this second installment of the series features 79 Minimal and Conceptual works by artists ranging from Blinky Palermo and Robert Ryman to Eva Hesse and Roni Horn. On view in the Modern Wing’s Abbott Galleries (G 182-184) from February 13 through May 22, 2011 , the exhibition brings these works to the public for the first time and also celebrates major gifts to the Art Institute from Judith Neisser and the Neisser family. The gift of 33 paintings, sculptures, and drawings is an acknowledgment of the museum’s long history of exhibiting Minimal and Conceptual art and will propel the permanent collection forward by filling gaps in the museum’s holdings and offering exemplary works by artists now synonymous with these movements.

Judith Neisser’s connection to the arts is deep and long-standing. Her love of minimal forms developed after she met her late husband, Edward Neisser, who first introduced her to the spare aesthetic of Japanese design. At home in Chicago, the Neissers visited museums and galleries regularly, and Judith soon began writing articles and reviews on architecture and design for such local and national publications as Chicago magazine, Art and Auction, Inland Architect, and Architectural Digest . Her involvement with museums and galleries deepened, and by the mid-1990s, she began to collect art in earnest, putting together an extraordinary selection of paintings, sculpture, and works on paper that is equally rigorous in visual and conceptual coherence, influenced, in part, by the “late-modern” architecture of her Chicago home.

Remarkable in its quality and focus, the Judith Neisser Collection gives special emphasis to a core group of artists emerging from the Minimal and Conceptual art movements of the 1960s, most notably Sol LeWitt, Robert Ryman, Donald Judd, Brice Marden, Dan Flavin, and Blinky Palermo. In Neisser’s own words, “I wanted to cultivate a collection that rejects singularity and essentially reflects some of the many roads an artist can take to achieve an abstract minimalist work.” As a result, the collection is rich in works that explore stark formal possibilities but leavened by the humor and wit of later-generation Conceptual art by such artists as Sherrie Levine, Roni Horn, and Bruce Nauman. The collection is particularly deep in works on paper, which for Neisser represent a more personal and accessible form of expression that she is drawn to in the midst of 20th-century rigor. Other artists from distinct but related traditions–such as Lucio Fontana, Eva Hesse, Cy Twombly, and Ellsworth Kelly, for example–have been wonderfully integrated into the collection based on shared uses of seriality, the monochrome, reductive geometric forms, and the grid.