Best Supercreepy Exhibit

"Morbid Curiosity" at the Chicago Cultural Center

Critics' Picks

This "paean to death" looks formidable on paper, with its big names (Rembrandt, Goya) and extensive inventory of objects (nearly 1,000, all from the holdings of art collector Richard Harris). But the bare facts are nothing compared to the show as experienced. It's enormous, powerful, and overwhelmingly creepy. Works by Kathe Kollwitz, Jasper Johns, and scads of others are hung about six high, all the way up to the ceiling in one room. In the next room you'll find print series by five different artists, including Sandow Birk's devastating look at America's invasion of Iraq, The Depravities of War. Displayed among old and ancient artifacts, contemporary pieces stand out so starkly that they seem ready to explode. Much was made of the 13-foot chandelier built from plaster bones, but I was blown away by what stood next to it: Richard Reutimann's sculpture Death of Venus. Based on Botticelli's iconic painting The Birth of Venus, it shows the goddess shrouded, with a skull for a face—and, oh yeah, she's bright red, like a sports car. Death for the modern age. This Venus has come fresh off the assembly line, so shiny you can practically see your reflection in her. "Morbid Curiosity" goes moribund July 8.