Kings & Queens: Pinball, Imagists and Chicago

The Illinois State Museum proudly presents Kings & Queens: Pinball, Imagists and Chicago, organized by the Elmhurst Art Museum. Executive Director, Jenny Gibbs, and curated by New York’s Dan Nadel.  This interactive exhibition is an examination of the intertwined history of two of Chicago’s greatest exports: pinball and imagist painting. Guests are invited to play pinball on Chicago-built pinball machines alongside paintings, sculptures and prints inspired by them, including works by Roger Brown, Ed Flood, Gladys Nilsson, Ed Paschke, Christina Ramberg, Suellen Rocca, Barbara Rossi, Karl Wirsum and Ray Yoshida. The exhibition also features original works by Constantino Mitchell a long time pinball artist.

Most of the world’s finest pinball machines were made in Chicago's North Side factories. As those machines reached the apex of pictorial and engineering ingenuity, the artists now known as the Imagists and the Hairy Who were finding their unique visual style with inspiration from many vernacular sources including the arcades and Riverview Park. Pinball provided inspiration with its high contrast coloration, absurd juxtapositions and ultra-flat forms. Pinball was but one inspiration for these artists, along with the city’s many color storefronts, campy product ads, and hand painted and neon commercial signs. The exhibition also contains photographs of Chicago in those years, as recorded by some of these same artists.

Graphics courtesy of Ethan D Ecolé.

Constantino Mitchell, Female ThunderBall, 1982, Acrylic on board, 33 x 35 x 2.5 in Courtesy of Constantino Mitchell
  • Constantino Mitchell, Female ThunderBall, 1982, Acrylic on board, 33 x 35 x 2.5 in Courtesy of Constantino Mitchell
  • Gladys Nilsson, Star Bird, 1968, Mixed media on Plexiglass, 17 ½” x 13“ Courtesy of Larry & Evy (Evelyn) Aronson
  • Kings & Queens, 1965 Manufacturer:  D. Gottlieb & Company Design by:  Wayne Neyens Art by:  Roy Parker Courtesy of Mark Weyna
  • Ed Paschke, Red Sweeney, 1975 Oil on canvas Collection of Rockford Art Museum, Illinois Gift of Francis and June Spiezer © the Estate of Ed Paschke

Contact: 

Robert Sill, Robert.Sill@illinois.gov, (217) 524-5744
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