This retrospective exhibition provides a rare opportunity to view the
sketches and drawings of American artist Christina Ramberg
(1946-1995). Widely regarded as a central figure in the history of
contemporary art in Chicago and in the history of feminist art on a national
level, Ramberg created paintings and drawings that reveal perceptions of
gender identity and objectification of the female body.
For this presentation, her drawings are accompanied by selected writings
and paintings — none of which have ever been chronicled, documented,
exhibited, or researched until this traveling exhibition organized by Gallery
400 at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
As an artist and educator, Ramerg was a dynamic presence in the
Chicago artistic community from the 1960s until her death in 1995. Along
with artists such as Jim Nutt, Ed Paschke, and Roger Brown, she is
considered an important contributor to the Imagist style that arose in
Chicago during the 1960s. The Imagists continued the figurative style
common to artists from that city but looked to new influences such as folk
art, comics, Surrealism, and advertising.
Ramberg’s imagery was influenced by a wide variety of sources including
printed advertisements, fashion layouts, costume history, and medical
illustrations. Her subject matter largely dealt with generic female figures
and variations on themes such as decoration, clothing, and bondage. In
one series of drawings, for example, Ramberg seems to be creating a
mutation from a woman with a fancy hairdo into a head of lettuce into a
pair of pantaloons. The patterns and shapes of her subjects relate visually
and thematically, playing on notions of women’s status in society as well
as society’s demands for femininity.
Ramberg was born in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and received both her
B.F.A. and her M.F.A. at the Art Institute of Chicago, where she also taught.
She has has numerous one-person exhibitions, including a retrospective
organized by the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago in 1988.
Her work is in the collections of several major museums, including the Art
Institute of Chicago and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Christina Ramberg Drawings was organized by Gallery 400, University of
Illinois at Chicago, the exhibition was coordinated by Judith Russi
Kirshner, Dean, College of Architecture and the Arts, and was made
possible through support of the National Endowment for the Arts, the
Illinois Arts Council, Ruth Horwich, and other generous supporters. At the
Marsh Art Gallery, University of Richmond Museums, the exhibition is
made possible with the generous support of the University’s Cultural
The exhibition is accompanied by a 128-page illustrated catalogue with
essays by Judith Russi Kirshner; poet and author Molly McQuade; and
painter and author Barbara Rossi who is also Professor of painting and
sculpture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.