The Many Hats of Ralph Arnold


The Many Hats of Ralph Arnold: Art, Identity & Politics

at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, Illinois, USA
11 October-21 December 2018

During the tumultuous 1960s and 70s, the prolific artist Ralph Arnold (1928-2006) made photocollages that appropriated and commented upon mass media portrayals of gender, sexuality, race and politics. Arnold’s complex visual arrangements of photography, painting and text were built upon his own multilayered identity as a black, gay veteran and prominent member of Chicago’s art community, hence the title for the exhibition, which is drawn from one of the artist’s more personal pieces. Arnold participated in some of the era’s most provocative exhibitions yet by the mid-1980s he increasingly focused on his teaching and service to the art community.

The exhibition brings together Arnold’s most significant contributions to the art of collage, including a recently rediscovered triptych made for the 1968 MCA Chicago exhibition, “Violence in Recent American Art”. It also includes work by contemporaries and colleagues like Robert Rauschenberg, Ed Paschke, and Barbara Jones-Hogu to add further context and enrich our understanding of Arnold’s legacy.

A companion exhibition, titled “Echoes: Reframing Collage”, also at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, examines the parallels between Arnold’s work and 21st-century photocollage artists like Krista Franklin, Wardell Milan, Ayanah Moor, Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, and Xaviera Simmons.

A publication featuring essays by curators and scholars accompanies the exhibitions. Contributors include curator Greg Foster-Rice, Associate Professor of History of Photography, Columbia College Chicago; Karen Irvine, MoCP Deputy Director and Chief Curator; Jacqueline Francis, Associate Professor of Art History, California College of Arts; Aaron Cohen, independent scholar; Keith Morrison, Associate Professor of Art, Temple University; Timothy Stewart-Winter, Associate Professor of History, Rutgers University; Rebecca Zorach, Professor of Art History, Northwestern University; and Sheridan Tucker Anderson, MoCP Curatorial Fellow for Diversity in the Arts.

(Text adapted from the gallery’s press materials)


Museum of Contemporary Photography
at Columbia College Chicago
600 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60605 USA
(312) 663-5554

Monday-Wednesday, 10AM-5PM
Thursday, 10AM-8PM
Friday-Saturday, 10AM-5PM
Sunday, Noon-5PM


Image (top):
Above This Earth Games, Games
by Ralph Arnold
Reproduced with permission from The Pauls Foundation

Image (centre):
by Nathaniel Mary Quinn
Courtesy of the Art Collection of the University of Chicago
Booth School of Business, University of Chicago