Barbara Rossi: Bodily Forms

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In 2022, the Museum received a generous gift of Barbara Rossi works from the Kohler Foundation in Wisconsin, and several of these are included in this exhibition. The artist is associated with the Chicago Imagists, along with Roger Brown, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Ed Paschke, and Karl Wirsum, among others. They each utilize the human figure in fantastic ways, rendering it with precise line, vibrant color, and stylized distortions that straddle the line between the comic and the grotesque.  

Rossi studied at St. Xavier College, and had planned to become a nun. She eventually decided to pursue an art career and attended the graduate program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she was profoundly influenced by her teachers Ray Yoshida and Whitney Halstead. 

Dedicated to process, Rossi explored techniques including reverse painting on Plexiglas, which does not allow for any revisions; and what she calls, “magic works”: drawings that unfold from her subconscious. She states, “I would start in the middle of the page and make a drawing that was relatively small, and I gave myself the rule of not erasing anything or making any changes, and when I was satisfied with the form at the center, I would begin attaching something that was different from what was drawn first." 

Rossi’s art is in the permanent collections of museums including the Art Institute of Chicago, Birmingham Museum of Art, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Denver Art Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Milwaukee Art Museum, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.  

Barbara Rossi, Pedestrian Rainbow Lady, 1969, proof on satin. Collection of the UK Art Museum, gift of Kohler Foundation, Inc. 
Created 11/30/2022
Last Updated 12/02/2022