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A Conceptual Retrospective

May 08, 2014
Christopher Williams: The Production Line of Happiness

Contemporary artist Christopher Williams, currently a professor at the renowned arts academy Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, is well-known in the field of photography for his technique in constructing scenes that render exquisitely detailed and glossy images. Having made his exhibition debut in 1982 at the Art Institute of Chicago, it seems only fitting that his first retrospective, The Production Line of Happiness (its title a doffed cap to Jean-Luc Godard), should start its tour here. Spanning three floors and his 35-year career, the multipart installation gives audiences an insight into the cinephilic artist’s wry questioning of commercial imaging, photojournalism norms and artistic curation.

In tribute to Williams’ sense of humour, curators Matthew Witkowsky, Roxana Marcoci and Mark Godfrey have interspersed his body of work with random catalogue excerpts, extra hangings, and comically verbose descriptions. The earliest pieces on show are film work from his studies at the the California Institute of the Arts where he developed under the tutelage of prominent names like John Baldessari and Michael Asher. Also making an appearance is Angola to Vietnam*, a series of 27 black and white photos of hyper-realistic glass flowers, and the Kodak Three Point Reflection Guide, a collection of portraits mimicking real-life photoshoot scenarios with awkwardly smiling models alongside everyday photography equipment. One for the shutterbugs.

Until 18 May, 2014.

Art Institute of Chicago / 111 S Michigan Ave / +1 312 443 3600 /