Sincerely . . .
Chicago’s Inimitable Street Artist
Exhibition Dates: Opening January 7 through February 26, 2022
Forty-three years ago, on the eve of the grand opening of the Carl Hammer Gallery at 620 N. Michigan Avenue, a first-time encounter with Chicago’s iconic street artist took place. Now, twenty-eight years since her passing, Carl Hammer Gallery takes a look back at the remarkable, inventive eye of one of Chicago’s most widely collected artists – Lee Godie.
It was in 1968, however, that Lee Godie, a homeless person, appeared on the steps of the School of The Art Institute of Chicago and began “hawking” drawings and painted canvases to the visitors of the museum. Proclaiming herself a “French Impressionist” and equal to the likes of Monet, Manet, Degas, and Cezanne, Godie established a ubiquitous presence throughout downtown Chicago. In whatever way it was that she wanted herself to be identified, she produced and sold her art while living on Chicago’s streets, establishing for herself and her artwork a distinctively significant presence. In evaluating her art production of several decades, as an artist and icon, it is impossible to separate the way she lived from her urgency to create. Driven by her zest for life, her tough constitution to survive and sell her art on the street, Lee Godie creatively, successfully, transcended the unpleasantness of “living on the street” driven by a remarkable will, with a passionate and uniquely personal vision.
We are honored to present this exhibition in her memory and in celebration of her remarkably colorful life and achievement.
In 1968, a French Impressionist artist appeared on the stairway of the Art Institute of Chicago. At the entrance to the city's most esteemed art institution, Lee Godie began to sell her canvases - paintings which she compared favorably with Cezanne's. The term "French Impressionist" was abruptly updated. Godie's paintings concurrently captured the face of the city and the persona of its dwellers. The John Hancock Tower became an icon for Chicago. Birds, leaves, twigs, and insects symbolized the natural world, which Godie ingeniously inhabited in the heart of the city. Her distilled impressions and perception captivated countless artists, collectors, and casual observers - the subjects of many of her portraits. As intentionally as she became a French Impressionist, Lee Godie became a famous artist.
Thousands of paintings later, Lee Godie the famous artist has had gallery exhibitions and museum shows. She has become an icon in the Chicago art world. With her art successfully, with compromise to nothing- the weather, the art world, or any social conventions.Though some have pondered the orientation of her sanity, few would question her impact as an artist in the city. Perhaps as powerful as her paintings, Godie's tenacious originality has continually reminded artists, collectors, and casual observers that life and art can be invented, and not merely emulated.Lee Godie has maintained an aura of privacy regarding the facts of her life. When asked about her birthdate, she replied "I don't celebrate my birthday, I celebrate my status as an artist." The chronology of her life as an artist follows:
Announcing the showing of a New Documentary Film
by Kapra Fleming and Tom Palazzolo
Lee Godie, Chicago French Impressionist
Chicago Filmmakers will be screening the film
February 27th - March 5, 2022
1968 Lee Godie appears on the steps of The Art Institute of Chicago
1979 Godie's paintings included in Art in Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL
1968-1990 The artist resides on and around the streets of Chicago, selling her paintings nearly every day
1991 Lee Godie: Drawings and Paintings, Carl Hammer Gallery, Chicago, IL
1993 Lee Godie: French Impressionist, Carl Hammer Gallery, Chicago, IL
1993 Artist- Lee Godie, A 20 Year Retrospective, Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL
1994 Lee Godie passes away