A lavishly-illustrated romp through Chicago Imagist art: the Second City scene that challenged Pop Art’s status quo in the 1960s, then faded from view. Forty years later, its funk and grit inspires artists from Jeff Koons to Chris Ware, making the Imagists the most famous artists you never knew... Purchase on DVD, Blu-Ray, or Vimeo On Demand!


What people are saying about Hairy Who & The Chicago Imagists:

“The year’s greatest art film…A joyous, graphic portrait of the artists and the period.” - Gapers Block

“A brilliant treasure trove…The most comprehensive chronicle of Chicago's most vibrant, iconoclastic, and carnivalesque chapter in art history.” - CINE-FILE

"Illuminating...Helps fill a yawning gap in the conventional telling of American modern art’s story." - Hyperallergic

"Far from a dry litany of talking heads...A love letter." - Chicago Tribune

“Funky, folky, and still fresh.” - Art in America

“Fulsomely intelligent…Charming and rambunctious…A delightful present day look at a past.” - Border Crossings

“Electric, lovely film-making…Must be seen by all Chicagoans and art lovers, as well as anyone who wants to feel superbly inspired…Engrossing and informative…[A] captivating tale.” - Chicagoist

"In Leslie Buchbinder the Chicago Imagists have found their video Vasari." - Robert Storr, Dean of the Yale University School of Art (from the DVD liner notes)



In the mid 1960s, the city of Chicago was an incubator for an iconoclastic group of young artists. Collectively known as the Imagists, they showed in successive waves of exhibitions with monikers that might have been psychedelic rock bands of the era - Hairy Who, Nonplussed Some, False Image, Marriage Chicago Style. Kissing cousins to the contemporaneous international phenomenon of Pop Art, Chicago Imagism took its own weird, wondrous, in-your-face tack. Variously pugnacious, puerile, scatological, graphic, comical, and absurd, it celebrated a very different version of ‘popular’ from the detached cool of New York, London and Los Angeles.

From Jim Nutt’s cigar-chomping, amputated women to Christina Ramberg’s studies of corsetry and bondage; from Barbara Rossi’s bejeweled dot paintings to Roger Brown’s secretive, silhouetted figures in windows; Chicago’s diverse artists followed no trend, preferring a path they ferociously cleared for themselves. Hairy Who & The Chicago Imagists is the first film to tell their wild, woolly, utterly irreverent story. Over forty interviews with the artists and a prominent group of critics, curators, collectors, and contemporary artists are featured, intertwined with a wealth of re-discovered archival footage and photographs. The film is narrated by Chicago theater legend Cheryl Lynn Bruce, and propelled by an original score for cello and voice by composer Tomeka Reid.

This is the story of the artists that emerged from the catalyzing exhibitions at the Hyde Park Art Center from 1966-1973, starting with the Hairy Who, who would come to be known as the Chicago Imagists. It brings to life the milieu of Chicago in the 1960s, and also showcases the legacy of the Imagists’ work in contemporary art production today, from Jeff Koons to Chris Ware. Themes in the narrative include the Imagists’ emergence within the national context of Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art, the rise and fall of taste within art history, and the uncharacteristic equality afforded to women artists among this Chicago group.