Luftwerk: Exact Dutch Yellow

October 22, 2022—January 29, 2023

Chicago Cultural Center, Exhibition Hall, 4th Floor North

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An offering from Petra Bachmaier & Sean Gallero of Luftwerk Studio


Exact Dutch Yellow

(click on image to enlarge)


Exact Dutch Yellow is a new immersive exhibition by the Chicago-based collaborative Petra Bachmaier & Sean Gallero of Luftwerk Studio. Drawing upon the scientific history of color and color theory, the exhibition explores how we perceive the natural world today. A series of sculptural light installations using botanical pigments and dynamic, changing light conditions will transform Exhibit Hall into abstracted, atmospheric chromatic experiences.

A play on words and the act of naming, Exact Dutch Yellow references the inherent difficulties that have always accompanied the classification of color. When the noted English biologist Charles Darwin embarked on his now famous journey aboard the HMS Beagle in the early nineteenth century, he brought along one of the earliest and most influential books to attempt a taxonomic guide to the colors of the natural world: Patrick Syme’s Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours (1814). Based on the groundbreaking work of German geologist Abraham Gottlob Werner, Darwin used the book extensively to help describe flora and fauna he observed, but occasionally improvised the naming of colors, changing for example Werner’s “Dutch Orange,” to “Exact Dutch Yellow.” The title of the exhibition speaks to the subjectivity of description and offers space to contemplate and consider the interconnected ecology of light, color, and nature.

Exhibit Hall will feature a series of immersive color and light installations using botanical colors in combination with color changing light conditions that transform into abstracted, atmospheric experiences. Whether using natural pigments, exploring the phenomenon of light and color in the sky, informed by a holistic perception of the natural world and an interconnected ecology.


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Anything but consistent, far from exact
Luftwerk and Normal in conversation | Book Launch

Sunday, January 22, Exhibition Hall, 4th Floor North, 2-4pm

This event is a discussion between artists Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero of Luftwerk, alongside designers Renata Graw and Lucas Reif of Normal. The two studios will discuss how to capture the spirit of an exhibition in a book, the challenges of adapting immersive experience into a compressed form, and the possibilities opened up by these translations.


  • 2pm: Gallery walkthrough with artists Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero
  • 2:30-3pm: Formal presentation of exhibition publications
  • 3-4pm: Q&A and casual conversation



Tuesday, January 17, Exhibition Hall, 4th Floor North, 6-7pm

Cellists and interdisciplinary artists Lia Kohl and Katinka Kleijn will create a live, sound-based response to Luftwerk’s Exhibition, Exact Dutch Yellow. Longtime collaborators, their shared practice explores vulnerability and resilience through the cello as an object, a body, and a sound-making tool.


Gallery Talk

Saturday, November 12, Exhibition Hall, 4th Floor North, 2-3pm

Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero of Luftwerk Studio in conversation with curator, Marin R. Sullivan


Other Gallery Talks


Pullman: Conscious Revitalization of the Overlooked

InDialogue: Armel Sagbohan and Ann Lui

Saturday, November 12, CAB Studio at the Chicago Cultural Center, 1st Floor North, 1:30pm

Join us at the CAB Studio for a conversation between architect Armel Sagbohan and co-founder of Future Firm, Ann Lui, to explore the current exhibition Pullman: Conscious Revitalization of the Overlooked.

Registration (not required, but suggested)


"Nelly Agassi: No Limestone, No Marble"

Saturday, November 12, Chicago Rooms, 2nd Floor North, 3-4pm

Artist Nelly Agassi in conversation with curator Ionit Behar and designer Andrew Schachman


Photo Gallery

(Photo credit: John Faier)