Gladys Nilsson Goes Big in New York Times Profile

Gladys Nilsson - SAIC
Gladys Nilsson, who turns 80 in May, at home in her attic studio. Photo credit: Alexa Viscius for the "New York Times"

Gladys Nilsson, (BFA 1962, HON 2016, Painting and Drawing) SAIC faculty and one of the members of the famous Chicago Imagists collective, Hairy Who, was recently profiled in the New York Times about her solo show, Honk! Fifty Years of Painting at Matthew Marks Gallery in New York City. 

Though receiving her first accolades in 1966 along with the group, Nilsson is now finally receiving her long awaited independent recognition. The article describes Nilsson’s notable style and  her early success with the collective, “Ms. Nilsson’s work stood somewhat apart from that of her peers, especially her watercolors of animalistic creatures which are rendered with extraordinary delicacy and subtlety.” 

Nilsson will be celebrating her 80th birthday this upcoming May. When asked about how her work has evolved over the course of her long career and practice she explained how she still enjoyed “using the figure in inventive scenarios, a certain kind of distortion. I love to watch people. I collect postures, in my mind, when somebody doesn’t think that they’re onstage so to speak, when they’re slumped or moving in a strange or exaggerated manner.” 

The article additionally asks Nilsson to reflect on her time as a student at SAIC. She recalls a memory of noticing an interesting group of students which then influenced a painting that would forever affect her practice. “It was a group of people that had sharp tongues and looked weird; it was not what you were supposed to paint in art school. That was the start of figuring out that I could paint what I wanted to paint, rather than what I was told to paint.”

The exhibition will be up at Matthew Marks Gallery in New York City, New York through April 18.