Arnold Odermatt | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Arnold Odermatt

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Swiss police officer Arnold Odermatt, now 77 and retired, photographed traffic accidents in the canton of Nidwalden from 1948 to '90. Most of his oeuvre is collected in municipal files and insurance-claims folders, but 43 arresting prints are now on exhibit in Gallery 139 at the Art Institute. They depict crashes but no casualties--Volkswagens become sculptural incidents in sylvan Alpine settings. His favorite human figures are white-gloved colleagues signaling drivers, and among the oddities is a uniformed officer doing a handstand in the middle of an empty highway, his impulsive pose framed by rigid lines of traffic lanes, guardrails, and overhead power lines. Pastoralist or surrealist, Odermatt proves insightful as he documents the peculiar beauty he found in his day job. Art Institute of Chicago, Michigan and Adams, through January 20. Hours are 10:30 to 4:30 Monday, 10:30 to 8 Tuesday, 10:30 to 4:30 Wednesday through Friday, and 10 to 5 Saturday and Sunday; 312-443-3600.

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