Classicism, as an aesthetic ideal, is often associated with a conventional set of rules founded on supposedly timeless notions such as “order,” “reason,” and “decorum.” As a result, it can be understood as rigid, outdated, or stodgy.
But classicism is actually far from a stable concept—throughout history, it has given rise to more debate than consensus, and at times has been put to use for subversive ends.
Informed by an interdisciplinary planning process involving faculty members from across the University of Chicago, Classicisms explodes the idea of classicism as an unchanging ideal.The exhibition traces the shifting parameters of classicism from antiquity to the early 20th century through nearly 60 objects in various media from the Smart Museum’s collection and other U.S. collections.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website
Whether you go or not, the exhibition is accompanied by a catalog comprising scholarly thematic essays, shorter entries, a complete checklist, and bibliography.