Renaissance Society receives $1 million gift to fund exhibition books

Staff Writer

A $1 million donation from noted University of Chicago donors Joe and Rika Mansueto will allow the Renaissance Society to catalog four exhibitions a year for the next 10 years with books, a program its executive director said will be incredibly useful to art history.

“For every show, we can say to the artist, ‘We are here. We are able to make a book with you,’ which is incredibly important,” said Solveig Øvstebø, who is also the Renaissance Society’s chief curator.

Exhibitions are often commissioned by the Renaissance Society, which is one of Chicago’s preeminent nonprofit contemporary art galleries. The artwork on display is not necessary commercially focused; Øvstebø said the exhibitions function as a platform for artists to experiment with their work and show it to a broader audience, making contextualization even more important.

Furthermore, Øvstebø said that exhibition books allow the works to be consumed by people unable to visit the gallery on the fourth floor of Cobb Hall, 5811 S. Ellis Ave.

“These books are not just add-ons. They’re part of the project, parts of the exhibition,” Øvstebø said. “They have an art historical purpose, because many of these artists have their first institutional show at the Ren. You can go back in history reading about the shows at the time.”

The University of Chicago Press distributes the Renaissance Society’s publications.

The Mansuetos’ gift is the largest in the Renaissance Society’s 104-year history. “They’re incredibly thoughtful philanthropists,” Øvstebø said. “In general, they’re very interested in education and research.”

“Also on View,” the Renaissance Society’s new exhibition of Croatian artist David Maljković’s work, will have an opening reception on Saturday, Feb. 9, beginning at 5 p.m.