Karl Wirsum


Karl Wirsum (born 1939 in Chicago, Illinois) is an American artist. A member of the notorious Chicago artistic group The Hairy Who,he helped set the foundation for Chicago’s art scene in the 1970s. Wirsum is primarily a painter, though he has worked with prints, sculpture and even digital art.He received a B.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1961.Wirsum was one of the earliest members of The Hairy Who (along with James Falconer, Art Green, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, and Suellen Rocca). This group came to be known by the exhibition title of the same name, which was co-curated by Don Baum at the Hyde Park Art Center in 1966, and for which the group received national attention. Subsequent shows followed in 1967 and in 1968, of which the latter went from the Hyde Park Art Center to the San Francisco Art Institute. In the winter of 1968-69 there was a Hairy Who drawing show at the School of Visual Arts in NY. In the Spring of 1969 the last Hairy Who show was at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Dupont Center in Washington, DC.By the early 1970s, several Hairy Who artists came to be known as Chicago Imagists, (a name for which critic Franz Schulze is credited for having developed) and this “group” expanded to include Ed Paschke, Roger Brown and Barbara Rossi, among others.Numerous members of the Wirsum family are involved with making art. His wife Lorri Gunn is an accomplished artist, daughter Ruby Wirsum works in photography and ceramics, while son Zack Wirsum is a painter and was featured in New American Paintings #59.Wirsum still lives in Chicago and works as a Full Adjunct Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

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