Robert Middaugh: Machines Inherit the Earth

September 2, 2017 to February 19, 2018

This exhibition highlights the career of Chicago artist Robert Middaugh (1935-2011).  Middaugh paintings and assemblages presents us with strange, fantastic structures and machines inhabiting a mysterious, deserted world. Middaugh's work pulls together several strands of thought—Surrealism, Magical Realism, Precisionism—along with his unerring palette of broad, flat color and precisely rendered images. Time stands still in these places; the future and nostalgia coexist. The purpose or logic of these man-made worlds is subverted by an absurd, magical atmosphere. These images teeter between fantasy and dystopia.

This exhibition is comprised of twenty artworks ranging in date from 1964 to 2005. Sixteen works in the exhibition are from a gift to the collection from Burlington, IA artist Jerry Torn in 2016. It offers us an overview of Robert Middaugh's work from his early mythological figures through this architectural forms and collections of objects. The exhibition title comes from a 1974 Chicago Sun-Times review of Robert Middaugh's work and hints at the concealed metaphysical authority underlying the images. The critic wrote, “[Middaugh] invented a mysterious land of machines that have inherited the earth, keeping smoke pouring from the factory chimneys without visible human aid. Perhaps Middaugh is saying that things run smoother, albeit more sinisterly, without the hand of man.”

Exhibition curated by Associate Curator of Art Doug Stapleton

Chinoiserie Electronique by Robert Middaugh
  • Chinoiserie Electronique by Robert Middaugh
  • Smoke Cells by Robert Middaugh
Temporary Exhibitions
Visitor Information
502 South Spring Street
Springfield (217) 782-7386
Admission: Free
Museum: Tues-Sat: 10-4:00
MacLean Play Museum: Closed unitl Further Notice
All Facilities Closed: New Year's Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.