DePaul Art Museum > Exhibitions > 1968: Art and Politics in Chicago

1968: Art and Politics in Chicago

September 18 – November 23, 2008




The 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago and its surrounding events generated violent clashes between police and protesters, galvanized the antiwar movement, and transformed the nation’s social and political landscape. What began as protests against the party nominating process and the Vietnam War soon became focused on the repressive tactics of the Chicago police and personified in the figure of Mayor Richard J. Daley. Shocked television audiences around the world saw a city in chaos, its government the antithesis of the democratic process and the violence in its streets a mirror of the aggression of American troops in Vietnam.

This exhibition focuses on artists, in Chicago and elsewhere, who were catalyzed by these events and responded by participating in a series of high-profile exhibitions held around the city, many around the time of the 1968 elections. Examining this charged history from the vantage point of forty years, it is nearly impossible to ignore the coincidence of another contentious presidential election and another unpopular war. The larger question, past and present, is how artists can participate effectively in political discourse while exhibiting social responsibility—a challenge as difficult to navigate today as it was in 1968.

The exhibition and accompanying programs are supported in part by a grant from The Terra Foundation for American Art.

Click here​ to view and purchase the exhibition catalogue, which includes a foreword by Louise Lincoln, essay by guest curator Dr. Patricia Kelly, exhibition checklist, and over 65 color illustrations.