Monday, August 14, 2017

THE CHICAGO ART INSTITUTE: From Paperweights to Impressionists and More

Two stately lions guard the entrance to the Art Institute of Chicago, one of the oldest and largest art museums in the United States, and one of my favorites. As I walked up the steps from Michigan Avenue and opened the door, stickers proclaimed it to be Chicago's number one museum choice on TripAdvisor
Rainy Day, Paris, Gustave Caillabotte, 1877
My visit to the museum on a recent trip to Chicago was an opportunity to become reacquainted with some of the museum's most famous paintings, including George Seurat's Sunday Afternoon on La Grande Jatte, Vincent Van Gogh's Bedroom at Arles and a number of Claude Monet's haystack paintings. 
Detail, Sunday Afternoon on La Grande Jatte by George Seurat
I have fond memories of visiting the Art Institute as a child and when I was in college and art school in Iowa (we rode to Chicago on the train.) I haven't been back since, so it was a delight to visit again. The museum has grown enormously with several additional modern wings.
Sculptures in the Modern Wing
Like most large museums, it is impossible to see everything in one visit so I decided to focus on the modern European and American wings. But on my way, I saw a sign pointing downstairs to an exhibit of paperweights and a special photography exhibit.
Paperweights from the collection of philanthropist Arthur Rubloff
My parents had their own small collection of paperweights so I was intrigued to see that exhibit–hundreds of glass paperweights arranged in artful designs.It is one of three premier collections of paperweights in the world. Other well-known paperweight collectors include Truman Capote, who wrote that the paperweight was like "some fragment of a dream."
Juvisy, France, photograph by Henri Cartier-Bresson
I am always interested in photography, so I went to see that exhibit too. It was a selection of photographs acquired by Hugh Edwards, curator of photography from 1959 to 1970. Edwards wrote about a photo by Cartier-Bresson of children playing by the Seine, "There are many great photographs by Cartier-Bresson, but this always remains my favorite."
Haystacks by Claude Monet
My visit to the museum was short and I was able to see only a fraction of the pieces on exhibit. I hope it won't be so long before I go back again.
A special exhibit of Gauguin paintings opened June 25th and will be open until September 10th.
Paul Gauguin: Artist as Alchemist, exhibit

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