Published by Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Foreword by Madeleine Grynsztejn. Text by Naomi Beckwith, Trevor Smith, Jason Foumberg.
This volume will be the first monograph on the work of Chicago-based artist William J. O’Brien (born 1975), produced to accompany his first large-scale, solo exhibition opening at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in January 2014. The show demonstrates the broad range of O’Brien’s work--from sculpture and ceramics to drawing, textiles and painting--and his guiding interest in physicality and the handmade. The catalogue expands the dominant narratives around his practice, which generally focus on his ceramics, to more accurately reflect his diverse, prolific practice as a whole. Exhibition curator Naomi Beckwith and contributing author and curator Trevor Smith contextualize the artist’s work in light of recent modes in contemporary art history--l’informe, the handmade and semiotic play. Critic Jason Foumberg contributes a creative text inspired by the artist’s working process. Together, the contributing essays make a strong contextual case for O’Brien’s work that counters canonical themes of media-specificity and traditional art materials, producing a catalogue as expansive as the breadth of O’Brien’s practice itself.