Artennial celebrates tradition of artistic excellence at UChicago

Groups host year of anniversary events, exhibitions and performances

Susan Allen
News Officer for Arts and HumanitiesUniversity Communications

Five innovative UChicago Arts organizations will celebrate landmark anniversaries during Artennial, a celebration of the long tradition—and future—of artistic excellence at the University of Chicago.

In 2014-2015, the Smart Museum of Art celebrates its 40th anniversary, the new music collective Contempo and Rockefeller Memorial Chapel’s carillon concert series Bells of Summer turn 50, Court Theatre will start its 60th season and the Renaissance Society reaches 100. Together, these organizations and programs have contributed 300 years of groundbreaking work to the city of Chicago and the wider arts community.

“Contempo, Court Theatre, the Renaissance Society, Rockefeller Chapel’s Bells of Summer and the Smart Museum have had a profound and lasting impact on the way the arts are conceived and practiced, and have made the University of Chicago a destination for those interested in the future of artistic practice,” said Deputy Provost for the Arts Lawrence Zbikowski. “Artennial offers us the opportunity to not only celebrate their remarkable accomplishments but also to look ahead to their bright futures.”

In the months ahead, several organizations featured in Artennial have special events and programs planned to mark their anniversaries. These include:

The 50th season of Bells of Summer will take place June 21 through Aug. 23, 2015. The Renaissance Society’s centennial celebration will take place in fall 2015, featuring two new Discussions by conceptual artist Ian Wilson, alongside a series of events that use key moments in the museum’s history to consider its future.

The University of Chicago’s network of arts organizations has grown from small-scale efforts—often led by members of the UChicago faculty—to some of the city’s leading professional arts organizations.

The Renaissance Society was founded in 1915 by UChicago scholars and went on to host exhibitions by some of the world’s most influential artists, including Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, Marc Chagall and Louise Bourgeois—long before they were household names.

Court Theatre grew from an outdoor summer theater festival to one of the city’s most respected homes for classic theater. Today, through its Center for Classic Theatre, Court works to integrate the expertise of University of Chicago scholars into its productions.

Contempo was founded in 1964 by renowned composer and conductor Ralph Shapey, and earned a reputation for outstanding performances of music by living composers. Its distinguished list of world premieres by both established and emerging composers includes works by Shapey, Roger Sessions, Pulitzer Prize-winning faculty member Shulamit Ran and MacArthur fellow John Eaton.

Rockefeller Chapel’s Bells of Summer highlights the magnificent 100-ton, 72-bell Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Carillon and attracts the world’s top carillonneurs.

In 1974, the Smart Museum became the central repository for the University’s extensive fine arts collection, and organizes innovative exhibitions like “Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art,” which have gained national attention for bridging art practice and scholarship.

About Artennial:

Artennial is a celebration of the tradition and future of artistic excellence at the University of Chicago. It celebrates major anniversaries for five of UChicago’s innovative arts organizations and programs: Contempo, Court Theatre, the Renaissance Society, Rockefeller Chapel’s Bells of Summer and the Smart Museum. Together, these organizations and programs have contributed 300 years of groundbreaking work to the city of Chicago and the wider arts community.

About UChicago Arts:

The University of Chicago is a destination where artists, scholars and audiences converge and create. With a strong tradition of interdisciplinary work, intellectual curiosity and creative energy, UChicago fosters a bustling arts community on Chicago’s Culture Coast.

UChicago Arts is comprised of renowned museums, theaters and music programs; initiatives connecting the arts, scholarship and the city; academic and research programs; and more than 60 student arts organizations. It forges an integrative model for practice, presentation and scholarship.

About Contempo:

Dedicated exclusively to the performance of new music, the University of Chicago’s Contempo—formerly known as the Contemporary Chamber Players—is one of the most successful new music groups in the nation. Now in its 50th season, Contempo has earned an enviable reputation for outstanding performances of music by living composers.

About Court Theatre:

Court Theatre is dedicated to creating innovative productions of classic plays that are thought provoking, character-driven and thematically enduring. Through main stage productions, audience enrichment programs and collaborations with the University of Chicago, Court re-examines, re-envisions and renews classic texts that pose enduring and provocative questions that define the human experience.

About Rockefeller Chapel’s Bells of Summer:

The Bells of Summer is a ten-week series of Sunday evening carillon concerts from the world’s top carillonneurs.

About the Renaissance Society:

The Renaissance Society is an independent, non-collecting museum of contemporary art located on the campus of the University of Chicago. Founded in 1915 to encourage a greater understanding of culture—in the broad sense of the term “renaissance”—it presents exhibitions, public programs and publications that advance the ideas and expressions of our time.

About the Smart Museum of Art:

The Smart Museum of Art is an intimate museum for bold encounters with art. As the fine arts museum of the University of Chicago, the Smart is home to thought-provoking exhibitions and an exquisite collection of ancient, Old Master, modern and contemporary art from across the globe. Through collaborations with scholars, the Smart has established itself as a pioneering model of what a 21st-century academic art museum can be.