A black cat sits on a plain floor in front of three color-blocked doors

Gertrude Abercrombie, Demolition Doors (detail), 1964, oil on Masonite, Illinois State Museum, Illinois Legacy Collection, museum purchase

Gertrude Abercrombie: Moored to the Moon

Gallery One

The exceptional and under-appreciated Chicago-based artist Gertrude Abercrombie (American, 1909–1977) was a creative force who, from the 1930s until her death in 1977, produced enigmatic paintings populated with objects and figures of personal significance. With a deft hand, a concise symbolic vocabulary, and a restrained palette, she created potent images—some even as small as a matchbox—that speak to her own mercurial nature and her evolving psychology as an artist. Cats, owls, snails, doors, moons, barren trees, seashells, forking paths, and masked figures all converge in her mysterious compositions, which suggest a life of wistful introspection and emotional struggle. Drawing consistently on her own dreams as source material, Abercrombie has said, “The whole world is a mystery.”

Featuring loans from important institutional and private collections, the exhibition presents a rare opportunity for museum visitors to appreciate—in significant depth—Abercrombie’s dreamlike visions and highly personal language of surrealism. Gertrude Abercrombie: Moored to the Moon is the most comprehensive museum presentation of the artist’s work to date.

Gertrude Abercrombie: Moored to the Moon is organized by Eric Crosby, Henry J. Heinz II Director.


Exhibition Images

A black cat sits on a plain floor in front of three color-blocked doors