The best contemporary art galleries in Chicago

Discover works by up-and-coming, emerging and established artists at Chicago's best art galleries

moniquemeloche is one of the best galleries in Chicago to see contemporary art.

The best art in Chicago isn't found exclusively at the Art Institute or Museum of Contemporary Art, nor are the best art galleries in the city confined to one neighborhood. Whether in Pilsen, River North, the West Loop, Wicker Park or elsewhere, Chicago boasts a variety of venues to see original artwork by up-and-coming, emerging and established artists. We've included commercial galleries, nonprofit art centers, university galleries and new contemporary art spaces. As venues come and go and evolve and expand, and new noteworthy galleries pop up, we'll continue to refine our (admittedly incomplete) list. Here's where to go now to see engaging art in a non-museum setting.

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Alderman Exhibitions

One of the newer West Loop galleries, Alderman Exhibitions has nonetheless asserted itself as a destination for thoughfully curated exhibitions—with an emphasis on photography, painting, sculpture, weaving and editions—as well as engaging multidisciplinary programs (think artists' talks, lectures and readings) and publishing projects. Founded by SAIC grad Ellen Hartwell Alderman, the gallery has featured a range of up-and-coming talent, including fine artists, designers and architects.

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West Loop

Aspect Ratio

Located in the West Loop, Aspect Ratio exhibits contemporary video art by emerging and established artists.

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Corbett vs. Dempsey

Founded by John Corbett and Jim Dempsey in 2004, Corbett vs. Dempsey reflects its owners diverse interests: jazz, film, American modernist traditions, middle-American approaches to abstraction and contemporary art. Located on the third floor of the Dusty Groove building, the art gallery (like a fine record shop) places an emphasis on digging up undiscovered talent, often featuring great regional art.

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devening projects + editions

Founded in 2005 as a curatorial effort, devening projects + editions now includes a Garfield Park gallery space showcasing site-specific exhibitions by international contemporary artists in every medium. Multiples by exhibiting artists often accompany these shows.

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Douglas Dawson Gallery

Douglas Dawson Gallery was established in 1982 and specializes in ancient and historic art from Africa, Asia and the Americas.

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Loop

Graham Foundation

This foundation makes project-based grants to individuals and organizations and produces public programs.

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Gold Coast

Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art

Intuit is the only nonprofit organization in the U.S. devoted to the exclusive presentation of outsider and contemporary self-taught art. More than simply a gallery, Intuit is a vital resource for students, scholars and the art enthusiasts, featuring a permanent collection containing 1,100+ works of art, the Henry Darger Room collection, the Robert A. Roth Study Center, educational programs and more.

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The Mission

By presenting provocative exhibitions by emerging, mid-career and established contemporary artists of the Americas, The Mission seeks to challenge stereotypes and present new perceptions of what Latin American art is. The Sub-Mission, below the main gallery, functions as an alternative exhibition space for local emerging artists.

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West Town

Renaissance Society

As far as this gallery of the University of Chicago’s campus is concerned, the avantest of the avant-garde is the only one that matters. As for the name, well, the university wants to broaden the definition of renaissance. (Think less Michelangelo, more the Next Michelangelo, in other words.) The white walls and high ceiling create a hyper-resonant environment. Many European avant-garde stars get their only Chicago exposure here, and the shows are free.

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Hyde Park

Shane Campbell Gallery

Featuring locations in Lincoln Park, Oak Park and West Town, Shane Campbell Gallery was founded by a former professor at the School of the Art Institute and exhibits emerging and mid-career contemporary artists specializing in painting, drawing, sculpture, photography and abstract and conceptual art. Artists include Paul Cowan, Mark Grotjahn, Michelle Grabner, Joanne Greenbaum, Amanda Ross-Ho and Lisa Williamson, among others.

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