Altogether Mutable: The Work of Mary Lou Zelazny | Hyde Park Art Center | Museums | Chicago Reader
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Altogether Mutable: The Work of Mary Lou Zelazny 

When: 2009
Despite the overall chilliness of modern mainstream painting, there's always been a strain in it that hungers for visual pleasure. In 1960, after decades of ever more impersonal, formalist art movements, the Museum of Modern Art in New York finally reacted with what turned out to be a blockbuster show of art nouveau--the flowery, decadent fin-de-siecle school that foreshadowed wavy-gravy psychedelia. The dark shadows, lurid colors, cramped compositions, fussy surfaces, and psychic melodrama of the Pre-Raphaelites, symbolists, expressionists, and surrealists all turned the stomachs of classic modernists, but have only grown in public popularity into the present day. The Hyde Park Art Center's stunning retrospective of local painter Mary Lou Zelazny flies the flag of those excess-loving styles, presenting a profusion of semifigurative canvases that plays the limpid iridescence of oils against monochromatic collage elements to create lush tableaux that threaten to leave the viewer with the optical equivalent of a hangover. If you're tired of esoteric, experimental dabblings with painting-as-concept, you'll bask in the radiance of Zelazny's glamorous, fantastical scenes. --Bert Stabler



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