When art met the European masses: a tour of the Art Institute of Chicago’s exhibit 'Avant Garde Art in Everyday Life'

July 15, 2011

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(Photo courtesy of the Frederick W. Renshaw Fund)
Piet Zwart. Cover for J.F. Otten, Amerikaansche filmkunst

Nearly a century ago, progressive artists in Central and Eastern Europe demanded that true art revolutionize objects and habits of daily life. Their new ideas responded to innovative images of the industrial marketplace, nascent mass media and urban popular culture. The Art Institute of Chicago’s “Avant-Garde Art in Everyday Life” exhibit features 300 works of modern art by the masters of their craft: John Heartfield, Gustav Klutsis, El Lissitzky, Ladislav Sutnar, Karel Teige and Piet Zwart. Their works include photography, photographically illustrated posters and books and rare examples of porcelain and glassware. Jerome McDonnell tours the exhibit with the curator Matthew Witkovsky.