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New Exhibition: Pop Stars! Popular Culture and Contemporary Art


21c Museum Hotel Chicago now has a new on-site exhibition, Pop Stars! Popular Culture and Contemporary Art, open to the public. Featuring notable works by Kehinde Wiley, Nick Cave, and Mickalene Thomas, among others, this multi-media exhibition explores the evolution of both popular culture and the legacy of 20th-century Pop Art.

The diverse group of artists featured in Pop Stars! found inspiration in popular culture, appropriating and reworking imagery from commerce, politics, religion, science, sports, and technology—revealing how culture has been created and consumed. With the advent of social media and digital technology in the 21st century, the line between the real and the virtual has become increasingly blurred. In Pop Stars!, artists address the many ways in which our fascination with fame shapes everyday life—how our celebration of actors, athletes, performers and politicians, as well as the brands and goods we consume and long for, impacts identity and society.


This was the first exhibition change out that 21c Chicago had ever done. Our newly appointed Museum Manager, Juli Lowe, helped install and plan out the placement of the pieces within Pop Stars! Popular Culture and Contemporary Art. These artworks spanned the 10,000+ square feet of the 21c Museum Hotel Chicago’s gallery space. With the introduction of Pop Stars!, we launched the Stay Like a Star package – where you can enjoy a private tour with wine, exclusive menu items, a signed copy of Nigel Barker’s book Models of Influence: 50 Women Who Reset the Course of Fashion, and a 21c shop discount that only you get!


On Thursday, March 24th, we hosted a reception to celebrate the opening of the new art exhibit. The reception was free to the public and featured a conversation between artist Brendan Fernandes and 21c Museum Director and Chief Curator Alice Gray Stites, with plenty of time for guests to explore the entire exhibit. Nigel Barker, 21c Chicago’s Creative Consultant and Brand Ambassador joined as well.

If you missed the opening reception, no worries! We have plenty of fun and unique events, as well as free public tours scheduled every Friday at 5 pm.

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