February 10, 2005 - Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago - Universal Experience: Art, Life, and the Tourist’s Eye
February 10, 2005

Universal Experience: Art, Life, and the Tourist’s Eye

NL Architects, Cruise City, City Cruise, 2003, Color print on wall, Dimensions variable, Courtesy of NL Architects, Amsterdam

Universal Experience: Art, Life, and the Tourist's Eye
February 11 – June 5, 2005

Museum of Contemporary Art​
220 East Chicago Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 
T 312.280.2660


Curated by Francesco Bonami

It has been estimated that by 2010, the number of people who travel internationally will reach one billion. Occupying the entire MCA building as well as its outdoor spaces, the works in the exhibition Universal Experience: Art, Life, and the Tourist’s Eye focus on the phenomenon of international visual artists whose work responds to their experiences of traveling. Ranging from large-scale installations and sculptures to more intimate photographs and videos, the works address issues related to tourism that include spectacle, architecture, authenticity, history, souvenirs, and anthropology. MCA Manilow Senior Curator Francesco Bonami writes in the exhibition catalogue, “The exhibition is a dialogue between icons and icons to be. It questions how a tourist attraction becomes a work of art-such as the Eiffel Tower-and how a work of art becomes a tourist attraction-such as the Mona Lisa. It questions the role of viewers, asking when we are tourists and when we are viewers. We enter a museum as tourists, but upon encountering the mystery of art, we are transformed into viewers. As viewers of icons such as the Mona Lisa, Nike of Samothrace, or Jeff Koons’ Rabbit, we share universal experiences and become tourists and viewers and tourists again. The exhibition is a system of mirrors, where icons, viewers, and tourists reflect each other.”

The fantastic exhibition catalogue serves as a souvenir guidebook with a new essay by Bonami and an anthology of critical writings by Charles Baudelaire, Joan Didion, Umberto Eco, Julia Kristeva, the late Susan Sontag, among many others. The vibrant color reproductions and accompanying short texts lead us through the work of more than seventy-five artists including Vito Acconci, Doug Aitken, Darren Almond, Matthew Buckingham, Chris Burden, Maurizio Cattelan, Abraham Cruzvillegas, Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Katharina Fritsch, Thomas Hirschhorn, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Jeff Koons, Matthias Mller, Gabriel Orozco, Martin Parr, Andrea Robbins and Max Becher, Thomas Schutte, Simon Starling, Thomas Struth, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Kyoichi Tsuzuki, Piotr Uklanski, and Andy Warhol.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago is located at 220 East Chicago Avenue, just one block east of Michigan Avenue, in the heart of the Magnificent Mile in downtown Chicago. For more information please call 312.280.2660 or visit www.mcachicago.org.

To purchase a Universal Experience catalogue, please visit the MCA Store, order online at www.mcachicagostore.org or call 312.397.4001.

Major support for the exhibition Universal Experience: Art, Life and the Tourist’s Eye is provided by the Harris Family Foundation in honor of Bette and Neison Harris. Major support is also provided by Muriel Kallis Newman, and Donna and Howard Stone. Major corporate support provided by Bank One, a JPMorgan Chase company. Additional support provided by Anne and Kenneth Griffin; Nancy and Sanfred Koltun; Helen Zell; Ruth P. Horwich; the Kovler Family Foundation; Meta S. and Ronald Berger Family Foundation in memory of our beloved Ronald by Meta Berger, Jan and Robin, Louis and Robin and J.R. and Michael, Jonathan and Rebecca and Jessica and Sydney; Nancy Lauter McDougal and Alfred McDougal; Sara Albrecht; Marilyn and Larry Fields; Wolfgang Puck Catering; C. Bradford Smith and Donald L. Davis; and Lindy Bergman. Air transportation is provided by American Airlines, the official airline of the Museum of Contemporary Art. Hotel accommodations provided by the Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel, a part of Millennium Hotels and Resorts.

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
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