Art gallery exhibits rarely seen work by noted Imagist painter Ed Paschke

September 16, 2014

Art Gallery (9)
Lisle, Illinois – Edward Francis Paschke was a Polish American painter whose childhood interest in animation and cartoons, as well as his father's creativity in wood carving and construction, led him toward a career in art.

Beginning Monday, October 6 and running through Sunday, November 30, the Fr. Michael E. Komechak, O.S.B., Art Gallery at Benedictine University will commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the artist's death with an exhibition celebrating the lively and pop art-influenced representational imagery associated with Paschke's art.

The exhibition is comprised of family members' collections, which have rarely been seen in public.

Born in 1939 in Chicago, Paschke was fascinated by the comics that appeared in Chicago newspapers and the cartoons which decorated the letters his father mailed home while serving with the U.S. occupation forces in Germany following World War II. Paschke struggled academically in school but excelled in art and athletics.

Paschke loved the grittiness and underbelly of the city well known for gangsters and frequently took friends, students or associates on a "crime tour" in which he would drive around the city pointing out locations where the city's most infamous crimes had occurred. He also loved the intensity of the Chicago sports scene and frequented the Chicago Stadium during the Bulls' championship runs.

A graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago, which has nearly two dozen of his works in its collection, Paschke was a member of the late-1960s Chicago Imagist movement, a group of artists whose expressive style of figurative painting was rooted in outsider art, popular culture and surrealism. Their art added heat to pop art’s cool aesthetic.

“Although Ed Paschke is perhaps the best known of the Chicago Imagists, unlike many of his compatriots, Ed’s interest in image was so much more fused with his interest in painterly matters,” said Lynne Warren, curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.

“His bold use of color and the pictorial space it creates; his willingness to let his striking figuration dematerialize into blurs of color and retinal ghosts was certainly unique among Chicago-based artists and indeed in contemporary art in general.”

Paschke achieved a level of celebrity in Chicago, rare for any artist, in which he was often recognized on the street. One year after his death, Paschke became one of the select few Chicago residents to have a street named after him – the stretch of Monroe Street between Michigan Avenue and Columbus Drive, which divides the Art Institute of Chicago and Millennium Park.

Paschke’s influence and popularity extend well beyond his native Chicago, however. His work has been included in exhibitions at numerous institutions around the world, including the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York), the Museum of Modern Art (N.Y.), the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (Washington, D.C.), and the Louvre (Paris).

The exhibition at Benedictine underscores the University’s mission – and that of the late Fr. Michael, for whom the gallery is named – to instill within students an appreciation of art, music and culture, and to develop well-rounded individuals who will become better learners, leaders and world citizens. The gallery also provides a venue for students to display their own creative talents.

Fr. Michael began amassing the University art collection in 1951. It now contains more than 4,000 original works of art including sculptures, paintings, drawings, photographs, calligraphy, ceramics and other craft and folk art pieces.

A reception for the artist's family, friends and those who appreciate his work will be held from 4:00-6:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 4, at the art gallery on the fifth floor of Kindlon Hall on the campus of Benedictine University.

The gallery's hours are from 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., Monday-Friday, from 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. on Saturdays and by appointment. For more information about the Paschke exhibit or the gallery, contact Cathaleen Gaddis at (630) 829-6320 or visit ben.edu/artgallery. 

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Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois, and Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls more than 5,000 students in 59 undergraduate and 23 graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the seventh consecutive year in 2017. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (hlcommission.org). For more information, contact (630) 829-6300, admissions@ben.edu or visit ben.edu.

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