They Seek A City celebrates the art produced by these newcomers. Immigration and migration, assimilation and alienation were topics that resonated with artists as they sought to establish new lives in a strange city. Although many of Chicago's artists were social realists who worked in a figurative tradition, avant-garde art by European immigrants also played a role in the city's changing cultural life. Despite sometimes-divergent methods, there was an overarching sense of artistic community, as artists crossed ethnic and racial boundaries, linked by shared institutional affiliations, political beliefs, and aesthetic outlooks.
By examining the art of the city through the lens of migration, They Seek A City not only traces Chicago's rich and dynamic cultural development, but also explores some of the most important social and artistic questions of the early 20th century, including the intersecting issues of racial and cultural identity.
They Seek a City is accompanied by a fully illustrated, 116-page catalogue. The book, by Sarah Kelly Oehler, the Henry and Gilda Buchbinder Associate Curator of American Art at the Art Institute of Chicago, features 85 color and 10 black-and-white illustrations, plus five scholarly chapters that explore Chicago and the art of migration. The catalogue, published by the Art Institute and distributed by Yale University Press, will be available beginning March 4, 2013, at the Art Institute's Museum Shop for $35.00.
They Seek A City: Chicago and the Art of Migration, 1910-1950 is organized by the Art Institute of Chicago and curated by Sarah Kelly Oehler, the Henry and Gilda Buchbinder Associate Curator of American Art at the Art Institute of Chicago. Exelon Foundation is the Lead Sponsor for They Seek A City. Annual support provided by the Exhibitions Trust: Goldman Sachs, Kenneth and Anne Griffin, Thomas and Margot Pritzker, the Earl and Brenda Shapiro Foundation, the Trott Family Foundation, and the Woman's Board of the Art Institute of Chicago.