Jim Lutes was born in 1955 in Fort Lewis, Washington. He moved to Chicago in 1980 to attend graduate school at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he received his MFA in 1982. Lutes first gained recognition as an artist when his debut solo exhibition in 1986 at Dart Gallery in Chicago sold out. The following year Lutes made his first of two appearances in a Whitney Biennial exhibition, the second being in 2010.
Considered heir to the Imagist tradition, Lutes exemplifies a larger and more complex historical narrative that entails the emergence of figuration and regionalism under the declining influence of Abstract Expressionism. Central to Lutes’s work is a key duality, sometimes expressed as the tension between opposing forces and other times as an internal, less definable, human struggle. His subjects come from widely ranging sources including both his own personal history and a greater collective experience, comprising an oeuvre unique in contemporary art.
Lutes’s work has been exhibited widely both nationally and internationally. Career highlights include his selection for Documenta IX (1992) and retrospectives at both the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (1983) and The Renaissance Society (2009). In 2009, Jim Lutes was named F. L. Wells Professor at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is the recipient of a 2010 Guggenheim Fellowship, and his work can be found in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the S.M.A.K.