Theodora Allen: Saturnine | Driehaus Museum, Chicago, IL

March 26 – August 7, 2022

More information on the exhibition

A Tale of Today
Theodora Allen: Saturnine
Driehaus Museum, Chicago, IL

Curated by Stephanie Cristello

The Driehaus Museum is pleased to present Theodora Allen: Saturnine, the artist’s first solo museum presentation in the US, following an iteration of the exhibition previously installed at the Kunsthal Aarhus, Denmark. Curated by Stephanie Cristello, Saturnine derives its title from the figure of Saturn and its historical association with melancholy, often referred to as “the curse of artists.” Alongside the planet, depictions of markers such as serpents, wildfires, moths, hourglasses, and hallucinogenic plants present a language within an emblematic tradition. Allen’s compositions exist as propositions of impossibilities. They transport the viewer elsewhere: into different times, different narratives. Steeped in mythmaking and iconography, the paintings draw from ancient Greek mythology, literature, fin-de-siècle Europe, and the zeitgeist of 1960s California to address the cyclical, enduring themes of human versus nature that withstand in our contemporary moment.

Allen’s paintings will be exhibited in the second-floor galleries of the Driehaus Museum, convening a dialogue between the rich ornamentation of the Gilded Age Nickerson Mansion and the artist’s interpretation of iconic mythical, natural, and celestial symbols. Alongside its collection of Tiffany glass, pre-Raphaelite paintings, and Art Nouveau flourishes, the unique environment of the Driehaus Museum becomes an essential part of Saturnine. The exhibition marks the latest iteration of the museum’s newest initiative: A Tale of Today, which features work by leading contemporary artists to expand the immersive experience and to shape our understanding of the world through the art, architecture, design, and cultural history of the Nickerson Mansion, the museum’s home.


Recent Publication

Theodora Allen: Saturnine
Written by Stephanie Cristello

Published alongside the exhibition is Saturnine, the first monograph on Theodora Allen. Written by exhibition curator Stephanie Cristello, this catalog will shine a light on Allen's work and exhibitions of the last eight years. Replete with full-color plates and details of her meticulous, luminous paintings, the book brings a magnifying glass to the artist’s symbolic lexicon as windows into timeless inner worlds. Cristello alternates between fictional texts and critical essays, to look at the way these emblems and allegories remain generative. Saturnine offers meditations on the kaleidoscope of references that find their footing in Allen’s paintings, and their powerful resonance in our contemporary moment.

Order here
Hardcover, 215 pages
Geneva: Motto Books, 2021
ISBN: 978-2-940672-11-0
6.75 x 9.5 inches

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