Suellen Rocca, Founding Member of the Hairy Who, Dies at 76

Suellen Rocca, Founding Member of the Hairy Who, Dies at 76

Suellen Rocca, a founding member of the short-lived but influential 1960s Chicago artwork group the Furry Who and a fiercely original artist whose hieroglyphic, phantasmagoric get the job done poked a finger in the eye of late-20th-century modernist purities, died on March 26 at a hospice in Naperville, Unwell., a suburb of Chicago. She was 76.

Matthew Marks Gallery in New York, which signifies her, explained the bring about was pancreatic most cancers.

At a time when the deadpan shopper imagery of Pop Artwork was offering way to the restraint of Minimalism and Conceptualism, Ms. Rocca and five former classmates from the University of the Art Institute of Chicago arrived collectively less than the sway of influences as disparate as Dubuffet, Native American artwork, hand-painted keep signals, the Sears catalog and the all-natural-historical past displays at the Area Museum to build a rambunctious variety of portray and sculpture that tacked tricky from prevailing orthodoxies.

“There is about lots of of these functions a relentlessly gabby, arm-twisting, eyeball-speaking to quality that comes as a excellent surprise in a gallery that we affiliate with the spare statements of Agnes Martin and Brice Marden,” John Russell wrote in The New York Moments in a assessment of a 1982 Tempo Gallery show. He added: “Why are they so repulsive? Are they all similarly repulsive? Are we completely wrong not to like them? These are honest questions, and they have earned an remedy.”

Ultimately the response was that their unorthodox ethos, disregarded by quite a few East and West Coast critics as a regionalist aberration, came to be embraced by younger generations who noticed them selves mirrored in its exuberance, irreverence and vernacular American overload.

Ms. Rocca and her compatriots, whose work served foment a wider movement known as Chicago Imagism, “weren’t fascinated in binary oppositions or the modernist arrow of development,” the curator Dan Nadel wrote in the catalog for a clearly show of Ms. Rocca’s work at Matthew Marks Gallery in 2016. “Art was art. This stoic, instead Midwestern philosophy would show to be foundational.”

In 2016, Ms. Rocca detailed some of the imagery that formed the lexicon of her early function, typically rendered in flat, quivery, cartoonlike strains.

“Palm trees, diamond rings, bra kinds in the Sears Roebuck catalog, dancing partners from Arthur Murray adverts and pictures of extravagant hairdos tucked into the back again webpages of publications ended up the cultural icons of splendor and romance expressed by the media that promised pleasure to young gals of that technology,” she said. “This was the society that surrounded me.” In a 2018 interview with Garage magazine, she mentioned that a great deal of her operate was a sort of image-writing, analogous to hieroglyphics, using in substantially of the same buyer flotsam that Pop artwork utilised but deploying it substantially additional subjectively.

Requested in that job interview about her tactic, she reported the brief response she favored to give was that “while New York was neat, Chicago was scorching.”

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