On May 20, the Illinois State Museum will proudy open Kings and Queens: Pinball, Imagists and Chicago an interactive exhibition examining the intertwined history of two of Chicago’s greatest exports: pinball and imagist painting.
Most of the world’s finest pinball machines were made in Chicago’s North Side factories. As those machines reached the apex of pictorial and engineering ingenuity, the artists now known as the Imagists and the Hairy Who were finding their unique visual style with inspiration from many vernacular sources including the arcades and Riverview Park. Pinball provided inspiration with its high contrast coloration, absurd juxtapositions, and ultra-flat forms. Pinball was but one inspiration for these artists, along with the city’s many-colored storefronts, campy product ads, and hand-painted and neon commercial signs. The exhibition contains photographs of Chicago in those years, as recorded by some of these same artists.
Visitors to the exhibition are invited to play pinball on Chicago-built pinball machines alongside paintings, sculptures and prints inspired by them, including works by Roger Brown, Ed Flood, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Ed Paschke, Christina Ramberg, Suellen Rocca, Barbara Rossi, Karl Wirsum and Ray Yoshida. The exhibition also features original works by Constantino Mitchell a long time pinball artist.
Kings and Queens is organized by the Elmhurst Art Museum Director Jenny Gibbs and curated by New York’s Dan Nadel. It will be on display at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield from May 20 – August 11, 2017.