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The Archive

This interactive archive was developed by Pentimenti Productions to provide a freely-accessible resource for students, teachers, artists, researchers, and art enthusiasts who want to learn more about Chicago Imagism. It is designed to share some of the wealth of material uncovered and recorded in the process of producing the Pentimenti film, "Hairy Who & The Chicago Imagists".

Some of the content on this site comes from rarely-seen personal collections of Imagist artists and their friends. Other material has been made available with permission from the collections of museums or other arts institutions around the world. All of the written texts on this site and dozens of the interviews were produced by Pentimenti as a new contribution to the historical record.

Additional features and material may be added to this site over time, along with updates about the film and screening dates, so please continue to check back for news! For more information about Pentimenti Productions, please visit here:

The Imagists

In the mid 1960s, the city of Chicago was an incubator for an iconoclastic group of young artists.  Collectively known as the Imagists, they showed in successive waves of exhibitions with monikers that might have been psychedelic rock bands of the era – Hairy Who, Nonplussed Some, False Image, Marriage Chicago Style. Kissing cousins to the contemporaneous international phenomenon of Pop Art, Chicago Imagism took its own weird, wondrous, in-your-face tack.  Variously pugnacious, puerile, scatological, graphic, comical, and absurd, it celebrated a very different version of ‘popular’ from the detached cool of New York, London and Los Angeles.

From Jim Nutt’s cigar-chomping, amputated women to Christina Ramberg’s studies of corsetry and bondage; from Barbara Rossi’s bejeweled dot paintings to Roger Brown’s secretive, silhouetted figures in windows, Chicago’s diverse artists followed no trend, preferring a path they ferociously cleared for themselves.

The Film

Hairy Who & The Chicago Imagists, produced by Chicago-based Pentimenti Productions, is the first film to tell these artists' wild, wooly, utterly irreverent story.  Over forty interviews with the artists and a prominent group of critics, curators, collectors, and contemporary artists are featured, intertwined with a wealth of re-discovered archival footage and photographs. The film follows the Imagists as they emerged from the energetic exhibitions catalyzed by Don Baum at the Hyde Park Art Center from 1966-1973, starting with the Hairy Who.  It makes use of archival material and contemporary interviews to bring to life the milieu of the early 1960s at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), and also showcases the legacy of the Imagists' work in contemporary art production today.

Themes in the narrative include the Imagists’ emergence within the national context of Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art; the city of Chicago in the 1960s and 70s, as seen and used by its artists; and the uncharacteristic equality afforded to women artists among the Chicago Imagists.

Film Credits:

Leslie BuchbinderDirector

Brian Ashby Producer/Cinematographer/Editor

Ben Kolak Producer/Cinematographer/Editor

John Corbett Writer

Lilli Carré Animator

Tomeka Reid Composer

Josephine Ferorelli Assistant Editor

Josephine Murphy Pentimenti Productions Office Manager

Web Credits:

LoudmouthConcept / Design / Development

Susannah RibsteinArchivist


Hairy Who & the Chicago Imagists at RISD Museum

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Providence, RI

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Hairy Who & the Chicago Imagists at the Silvermine Arts Center, New Canaan, CT

Friday, September 26, 2014

New Canaan, CT

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Hairy Who & The Chicago Imagists Theatrical Run at the Siskel Film Center

Friday, October 3, 2014

Chicago, IL

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Hairy Who & the Chicago Imagists at RISD Museum

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Providence, RI

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