An intimate platform for encountering artistic expressions that give form to, challenge, and complicate currents in contemporary thought
The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago presents contemporary art exhibitions, events, and publications. “The Ren”—as we are known by many—is an independent, non-collecting museum driven by an uncompromising commitment to artists and their ideas. All exhibitions and events are free and open to the public.
We offer artists the time, space, resources, and freedom that are vital for ambitious experimentation and risk-taking. Our work with artists frequently results in newly commissioned art, and their presentations in our 3,000 sq ft gallery spur further scholarly and creative reflections in our publications and public programs.
Visitors to the Ren find a uniquely intimate platform for encountering artistic expressions that give form to, challenge, and complicate currents in contemporary thought. Events—including artist talks, lectures, screenings, concerts, readings, and more—offer further opportunities for discovery and discussion. We maintain robust archives, which are frequently accessed by art historians, students, and other institutions.
The Renaissance Society was founded in 1915 by a group of University of Chicago faculty, and our name refers to their intention to create a space in which to foster engagement with new ideas in arts and culture.
In the early 20th century the Renaissance Society played a key role in bringing European and other avant-garde practices to Chicago through presentations of Henri Matisse, Alexander Calder, Fernand Léger, Mies Van Der Rohe, Käthe Kollwitz, and Joseph Cornell, among others.
Under the 40-year leadership of Susanne Ghez from 1973 to 2013, the Renaissance Society hosted the Chicago debuts of Bruce Nauman, Joseph Kosuth, and Jenny Holzer; and key solo exhibitions by Mike Kelley, Isa Genzken, Felix Gonzales-Torres, Kara Walker, Kerry James Marshall, Joan Jonas, and Danh Vō.
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