Chicago Calling: Art Against the Flow

June 29, 2018–September 5, 2021
Curated by Kenneth Burkhart and Lisa Stone

Chicago Calling: Art Against the Flow

Joseph Yoakum, Farm Near Walnut Grove. Ink and pastel on paper.
Joseph Yoakum (American, 1886-1972). The Mounds of Pleasure/on JA Brimms Farm Near Walnut Grove…, 1970. Ink and pastel on paper, 15 3/8 x 11 3/4 in. Richard and Ellen Sandor Family Collection.


Chicago Calling: Art Against the Flow explores Chicago’s history of robust recognition and acceptance of self-taught art and artists. Curated by Kenneth Burkhart, an independent curator, and Lisa Stone, curator of the Roger Brown Study Collection of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the exhibition presents intrinsic themes embodied in the works of 10 Chicago artists: Henry Darger, William Dawson, Lee Godie, Mr. Imagination, Aldo Piacenza, Pauline Simon, Drossos Skyllas, Dr. Charles Smith, Wesley Willis, and Joseph Yoakum. Themes and associations among works in the exhibition include expressions of fierce resistance to soul-crushing circumstances, to conventional ideals of beauty, and much in between. Culled from 30 collections (and many more examined), the exhibition explores the commingled histories of the ten artists, and the artists, educators, curators, dealers, collectors, and appreciators who comprised the culture of receptivity in Chicago, and embraced their work. The history of exhibitions of non-mainstream work in Chicago, from 1941 to the present, amplifies and underscores the curatorial premise.

Organized and traveled by Intuit, the exhibition premiered at Intuit from June 29, 2018–January 6, 2019, in Chicago. The exhibition tours to Halle Saint Pierre (Paris, March 23–August 2, 2019), Kunsthaus Kaufbeuren (Kaufbeuren, Germany, October 10, 2019–January 26, 2020), Collection de l’Art Brut (Lausanne, March 13–November 1, 2020), and Outsider Art Museum (Amsterdam, June 5–September 5, 2021).

Exhibition catalog


View photos from Chicago Calling: Art Against the Flow on Flickr.

Chicago Calling: Art Against the Flow


Chicago Calling Amsterdam: A Conversation Between Directors
Wednesday, April 7, 2021, 12–1 p.m. central, Zoom Video Conference

Press coverage

Chicago Calling: Art Against the Flow is part of Art Design Chicago, an exploration of Chicago’s art and design legacy, an initiative of the Terra Foundation for American Art with presenting partner The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation. Intuit received funding from the Terra Foundation for American Art to support the exhibition, catalog and international travel. Additional catalog funding is provided by the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation and the Dorothea and Leo Rabkin Foundation.

Art Design Chicago, Terra Museum of American Art, Driehaus Foundation logos