The Center of Everything: A New History of Chicago Art

Robert Cozzolino will speak on Thursday, March 8 at Mia as part of the Friends Lecture Series sponsored by the Friends of the Institute.
Where does Chicago’s art history belong in the bigger picture of American art? Learn about the artists, innovations, and connections that make Chicago’s art history exciting and critical to the history of art. Mia’s Patrick and Aimee Butler Curator of Paintings, Dr. Robert Cozzolino is one of the contributors to and editors of a big new book on Chicago’s artists, to be released this fall. Come hear about what made the city sing as a sneak peek.

Robert Cozzolino, Patrick and Aimee Butler Curator of Paintings at Mia
Robert Cozzolino, Patrick and Aimee Butler Curator of Paintings at Mia

As a native of Chicago, it is no surprise that Dr. Robert Cozzolino visited the Field Museum of Natural History in downtown Chicago. He specifically remembers the Brontosaurus suddenly filling his self with feelings of being exposed, prey-like, and wandering into a “space far out of my scale and realm.” Cozzolino also recalls the dinosaurs possessing an “unmitigated realness” and power. He clung to his mother’s leg, assuring that if the creatures creak to life and extend their very long necks, he would be safe from any unwanted nibbles on the part of the creatures! To this present day, Cozzolino states that this partially explains why he is so heavily absorbed with specific art pieces he seeks out that “fill me with wonder, quicken my pulse, and challenge my notions of the real.”
Visiting the Art Institute of Chicago as a high school student affirmed his fascination with the field of art. When viewing great paintings this time, instead of dinosaurs, Cozzolino felt himself “lost inside the image, with reality quieted and faded at the edges.”  To this day, art retains that capacity for him to transform daily encounters in rather delightful, and yet harrowing terms.
Cozzolino states his family has been a bit baffled by what a curator actually does. Of course, they develop a sense of his accomplishments when viewing exhibitions he creates, but Cozzolino tries to clarify his job description with a list of 90 adjectives. For example, he sees a curator just to name a very few, as an accomplice, conductor, defender, diplomat, dismantler, educator, gatherer, instigator, juggler, magician, orator, strategist, tight-rope-walker, and weathervane.
Free tickets are available for this lecture starting February 15 for Friends members through or 612.870.6323. Tickets are available February 17 for the general public. Overflow seating is available.