One of the Chicago Imagists, Ed Paschke (BFA 1961, MFA 1970, HON 1990) was once described as "a formalist in wolf's clothing."
Ed Paschke (BFA 1961, MFA 1970, HON 1990), sometimes referred to as Mr. Chicago, was born in 1939 in Chicago where he lived until his death in 2004. As a student at SAIC, Paschke was influenced by many artists he would see in the museum’s collection, in particular, Gaugin, Picasso, and Seurat. When he graduated with his BFA, he won the Anna Louise Raymond Foreign Traveling Fellowship, which he used for a three-month trip to Mexico with SAIC colleagues Karl Wirsum (BFA 1961) and Bert Phillips. In 1990 he received an honorary doctorate from the school.
Considered one of the Chicago Imagists, Paschke was described in 2014 by New York Times art critic Roberta Smith as “a formalist in wolf’s clothing, or the most abstract of Photo Realists.” She further describes his work as “dystopic photo-based paintings depict the denizens of a lurid dark side, where crime, race, clubs and an eerie glamour mixed with intimations of violence.” It was this interest in the outcasts of society that led to some of his greatest work like Wanda (1973).
In addition to a prolific artistic career, Paschke taught at SAIC and Barat College before becoming a full-time professor of art at Northwestern University in 1978. He had major exhibitions at the Renaissance Society, Centre Pompidou, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago History Museum, and the Illinois Institute of Art in Chicago. Paschke’s work is in many museum collections worldwide, from the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis to the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
The Ed Paschke Art Center opened on June 22, 2014, on what would have been the artist’s 75th birthday and a section of Monroe Street between Michigan Avenue and Columbus Drive, on the border of the Art Institute and Millennium Park, was named in Paschke’s honor upon his death in 2004.