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Works Range From High-Priced to Self-Destroying at Chicago Exhibition

May 7, 1987

CHICAGO (AP) _ The prestigious Chicago International Art Exposition, opened a six-day run Thursday with works ranging from a multimillion-dollar Georgia O’Keeffe collection to ″Allegory for Suicide,″ a self-destructing sculpture.

More than 160 galleries from 16 countries will display modern and contemporary art at the eighth annual event, which is expected to draw more than 40,000 visitors.

There will be paintings by well-known artists such as Picasso, Miro and Warhol and sculptures by Alexander Calder and Claes Oldenburg, all carrying high price tags.

But works by younger artists such as Canadian Lisa Mulroy and American Sean Scully also are expected to sell at escalating prices, helping to push spiraling art prices even higher.

″It is essentially one of the art world’s biggest trade shows,″ said Carol Leifer, a spokeswoman for The Lakeside Group, promoters of the exposition.

″It provides many of the European, Asian and African exhibitors with their best shot at the high-end U.S. market. The private collectors, the museums, they’re all here. You only have to look at the prices to know that.″

New to this year’s exposition will be four O’Keeffe works being offered by the Gerald Peters Gallery of Santa Fe, N.M.

Peters has long been an outlet for the artist’s works, but never has displayed them in Chicago. The best-known of the four probably is the dreamy landscape, ″Winter Cottonwood Trees East III,″ but even the smaller ″Bleeding Heart″ is valued in the $250,000 range.

One work that will not contribute to the price escalaation is sculptor Dean Langworthy’s oak and steel ″Allegory for Suicide,″ a piece designed to sink in Lake Michigan.

″It’s pretty much a one-shot thing,″ said Langworthy, 38, who lives and works in Chicago, and frequently creates sculptures that move. ″Hopefully, it will happen in conjunction with the end of the show, but I can’t guarantee it.″

″Allegory,″ in bare summary, is a small water-heater tank that is filled with water, strapped to a cart, and mounted at the end of a ramp.

As the tank gradually empties, the end of the ramp resting on the ground will move upward, ultimately dumping the cart into the lake and following along with it.

″It was designed to be of limited duration,″ said Langworthy.

The piece was is not intended as a takeoff on news reports about the recent rash of teen suicides, he said. ″But it does come out of a consideration of the waste.

″If I could be more articulate,″ he added, ″I suppose I would just have talked about it instead of doing this.″

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