Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Art Institute of Chicago



I can never do justice in covering the Art Institute of Chicago..
It's huge with a magnificent collection! There are paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, architectural fragments, photographs, special exhibits.. And then, there is the architecture of the building itself!
Where to begin? What to include?
Well, it was not so difficult to decide that I would focus on paintings, sculptures and architecture.. But even if I take a single element, say paintings, the coverage can potentially be multifaceted. Each painting has a story, each painter has a story, each painter is influenced by the then existing School of Art and in turn influences it! All I can do is just present some aspects of the Institute's huge depth and breadth of collections..

So, here's an attempt at covering the Art Institute of Chicago.. divided into many posts..



New Asian Art Galleries..
On Dec 13, 2008, the Art Institute opened two new Asian Art galleries..
- Alsdorf Galleries of Indian, Southeast Asian, Himalayan and Islamic Art. Previously it was the Gunsaulus Hall..
- Galleries of Indian and Islamic Art, situated North of McKinlock Court.
The new space design is by Renzo Piano and contains about 435 works, many dating back to 8th and 10th century and some even older..
# For more Galleries of Asian Art.. click here..



Galleries of European Art: Impressionism..
The Art Institute of Chicago has one of the largest collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionst art outside of Paris. It includes works of Claude Monet, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, Paul Cezanne, Edgar Degas, Berthe Morisot, Gustave Caillebotte.. and more..
# For more on European Art: Impressionism.. click here..



Galleries of European Art: Post-Impressionism..
Post-Impressionsts began rejecting the realism of Impressionsts, and develped highly personal art form.. Painters like Paul C├ęzanne, Georges Seurat, Paul Gauguin, Vincent Van Gogh and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, worked alone and developed very distinctive styles.
# For more on Post-Impressionism.. click here..



Galleries of American Art [Rice Building - Lower Level]
The galleries has a fair share of American paintings, arts-&-crafts and sculptures, but I was mostly interested in sculptures. It has works by American sculptors like Lorado Taft, Edward Kemeys, Hermon Atkins McNeil, Daniel Chester French and Frederic Remington..
# For more on Galleries of American Art.. click here..



Galleries of American Art - II [Rice Building: Upper Level]
This has all time favourite painting, "Nighthawks" by Edward Hopper.. Also are works of famous American painters like Grant Wood, Archibald John Motley Jr, Stuart Davis, Georgia O'Keefee, Mary Cassatt and John Singer Sargent among others..
# For more on.. Galleries of American Art-II.. click here..



Galleries of Contemporary Art..
Modern Wing of the Art Institute houses the Contemporary Art collection. The Art Institute of Chicago has one of the most comprehensive collection of contemporary art in any general museum in the world, with about 1,000 works. It encompasses almost every significant art movement from 1950 to the present and includes painting, sculpture, installation art, and new-media work..
# For more on Contemporary Art.. click here..



The Modern Wing..
The Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago opened on May 16, 2009.. Designed by
architect Renzo Piano, it adds 264,000 square feet to the Art Institute, increasing the size of the museum by a third. The Modern Wing has some very interesting features described as zero-gravity, flying-carpet, green-elements..
# For more on Modern Wing.. click here..



[Original] Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room..
It built by one of the city's most important early architects Louis Sullivan, with his partner, Dankmar Adler, in 1893–94. When the Stock Exchange was demolished in 1972, sections of Sullivan's elaborate stenciled decorations, molded plaster capitals, and art glass were preserved from the Trading Room, the magnificent centerpiece of this 13-story structure. Using these fragments, the Art Institute was able to reconstruct the Trading Room in its new wing in 1976–77...
# For more on Stock Exchange Trading Room.. click here..

For more on.. [click on the link]..
The Art Institute of Chicago...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

AIC - Modern Wing





Art Institute of Chicago[AIC] - Modern Wing..
Opened: May 16, 2009..
Architect: Renzo Piano
The 264,000 square foot of Modern Wing houses collections of modern European art and contemporary art, with new gallery space for the collections in photography, architecture and design.
Some of the salient features of the Modern Wing includes ..







Zero Gravity..
The design includes an element called "reveal", which is a "slight gap" where walls, pedestrians and benches, do not seem to meet the floor. This feature makes everything appear to be floating just an inch off ground. This gives an illusion of "zero gravity"..





The Flying Carpet..
One can easily notice the use of natural lights in the museum.. The galleries in the east pavilion are lit by filtered natural lights. Sitting atop the entire east pavilion is approx. 2,000 stationary extruded blades, called the "flying carpet". The blades are shaped to bring north light, the safest for works of art, into the third floor and to shield the gallries from the southern, or harshest exposure..





The Grid..
For the Modern Wing, Piano devised a proportional system based on the measurement 6 feet, 3/4 inches. Everything in the building, from the width of white oak floorboards, to the height of the walls, and the sections of glass facade, is a multiple of this measurement.



Green Elements..
The Modern Wing uses a large amount of natural lights to illuminate the galleries. The artificial lighting is calibrated to the amount of daylight coming in, which insures that light levels remain constant while natural light fluctuates throughout the day and season. Additionally the north facade is actually composed of two separate sections of glass with an air cavity in between. This cavity is the space in which air can be heated or cooled, ensuring that no outside air directly encounters a gallery wall. This climate-controlled cavity also saves on the amount of energy needed to heat or cool galleries depending on outside temperatures and humidity.

For more on.. [click on the link]..
The Art Institute of Chicago...

AIC: Contemporary Art



















Modern Wing of the Art Institute houses the Contemporary Art collection.. Second Floor: Galleries 288, 291-299
Third Floor: Galleries 389-399..

Earlier I've written about Impressionist and Post-Impressionist collection on the upper-level of Alsdorf Galleries.. click here..
Now we come to the Contemporary Art.. The Art Institute of Chicago has one of the most comprehensive collection of contemporary art in any general museum in the world, with about 1,000 works. It encompasses almost every significant art movement from 1950 to the present and includes painting, sculpture, installation art, and new-media work. Some of its most notable holdings are works by Eva Hesse, David Hockney, Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Bruce Nauman, and Gerhard Richter.

Impressionism was a reaction against the formal-approach of the Academic Art, and Post-Impressionsim was a reaction agaisnt the naturalist-approach of Impressionism. Post-Impressionist paved the was for more experimental art-forms, called Modernism/ Contemporary Art. Modernism was a broad movement encompassing all avant-garde "isms" of the first half of the 20th century. Although different modern-isms were often incompatible; each one rejected the dominance of Academic or naturalism [Impressionism], in favor of experimental art. Modernists explored different facets of art. Like experimenting with..
- the nature of representation – Cubism
- the unconscious - Surrealism
- explore state of mind – Expressionism
- Action painting - Abstract Expressionism
Most of these trends overlapped each-other..

Cubism..
Taking about name association, the name Pablo Picasso is always associated with Cubism.. And although Cubism was pioneered by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, this art form is indebted to Cezanne’s use of “multiple viewpoints” in a single painting. Cubism is often described as a “conceptual approach” to painting. It’s used to describe shifting viewpoints. For example, we can look at a table while standing over it, underneath it, from the side and cubist painters strived at capturing all these viewpoints. Different angles of an object put this way cannot actually be seen in real life. Cubism violently shocked art circles, and its influence spread rapidly after that!!
Surprize [or not], I love Cubism!!

Surrealism..
Surrealism is said to have been founded in Paris by the poet and critic Andre Breton, who published "The Surrealist Manifesto" in 1924. Surrealism, was a means of reuniting conscious and unconscious realms of experience so completely, that the world of dream and fantasy would be joined to the everyday rational world in "an absolute reality, a "surreality"!! Breton saw the unconscious as the origin of the imagination; drawing heavily from the theories of Sigmund Freud ...

Expressionism..
It emerged in different artistic circles in Europe in 1905-1920’s. It’s characterized by strong use of colors, distorted figures and sometimes abstraction. Most famous example is Edvard Munch’s painting “Scream”. Another is Wassily Kandinsky’s “Improvisation 30”. It looks like just splash of colors, but on closer examination we can see tanks and falling buildings.

Abstract Expessionism..
The first exclusively American movement to gain international recognition, developed in New York, immediately following the WW-II. It is also referred to as “The New York School”. Abstract expressionists adopted a unique style of throwing paint on their canvases; from which the term “Action painting” is derived. Like Jackson Pollock poured commercial paint directly into his canvas with the help of a stick. This revolutionary act dispensed with traditional brush and easel and involved his entire body in the act of painting.

For more on.. [click on the link]..
The Art Institute of Chicago...

Monday, February 22, 2010

AIC: Galleries of American Art [Upper Level]

The two stories of the Rice Building, display the Art Institutes American permanent collection.. which includes paintings, sculptures and decorative arts..
Lower Level - 18th & 19th century of American Art
Upper Level - American Art from 1890 onwards..
This post is about American Modernism [Upper Level]
Galleries 261-265, 271-273..





















When I was standing in front of the "Nighthawks" by Edward Hopper, I overheard someone saying that it was his all time favourite. And I couldn't agree more. This is one of my personal favourites too! An example of Ashcan School of Art, which is one great contribution of New York to the field of art. A harsher view of the world, as against the genteel American Expressionism, portraying city's gritty, improvised reality, the life of the middle and lower income groups, the anonymity, the loneliness, the melancholy and ironically the beauty of it!

"American Gothic", is another of the very famous paintings, in the Institutes huge collection and has been subject to many parodies, including the "God Bless America" sculpture by Steward Johnson in the Pioneer Court. Although I can understand it's huge popularity, I have never been very fond of it. It depicts a farmer and his spinster daughter, and that the models [painter's sister and his dentist] never actually posed together. The only thing I find very obvious, is the very Midwestern setting.

One that I really like is "Nightlife" by Archibald John Motley Jr. One can easily imagine the exuberance and energy in one of Bronzeville's nightspots. Stuart Davis' "Ready-to-Wear" is another interesting piece, easily discernible is the influence of European Modernism, although it conveys something very American, the invention of ready-to-wear clothing.

A significant name in American Modernism is that of Georgia O'Keefee. Her style has been succinctly put on the Art Institute's website..approached her subjects, whether buildings or flowers, landscapes or bones, by intuitively magnifying their shapes and simplifying their details to underscore their essential beauty..

Mary Cassatt and John Singer Sargent were both American expatriates.. Mary Cassatt lived most of her adult life in France and her works were exhibited in many Impressionist exhibitions. Many of her work are on the theme of women and children. She was influenced by Japanese prints which is reflected in her painting "The Child's Bath". John Singer Sargent lived in Germany, Italy and France. He was famous for portraits as well as landscapes..



Among the sculptures, I'm particularly fond of "Dancer and Gazelles" by Paul Manship in 1916, mostly because it has such an Indian touch.. I have taken it's photo, every single time I've been to the Art Institute. It's reminiscent of so many Rajasthan paintings I've seen growing up in India..





Above images..
- Woman [Elevation].. By Gaston Lachaise
[Modeled 1912-15, Cast 1927]
- Diana.. By Frederick W. MacMonnies
[Modeled 1889, cast after 1900]

For more on.. [click on the link]..
The Art Institute of Chicago...

AIC: Galleries of American Art [Lower Level]

The two stories of the Rice Building, display the Art Institutes American permanent collection..which includes paintings, sculptures and decorative arts..
Lower Level - 18th & 19th century of American Art
Upper Level - American Art from 1890 onwards..
This post is about 18th & 19th century American Art [Lower Level]
Galleries 161-179..

















For me, the main attraction on the lower level are the sculptures..
The beautiful Sculpture Court, bathed in natural light displays some outstanding marble sculptures, mostly allegorical, moralizing stories of Pocahontas, Zenobia, Queen of Pamya and other historical and literary figures.. I was mostly interested in American sculptors like Lorado Taft, Edward Kemeys, Hermon Atkins McNeil, Daniel Chester French and Frederic Remington..
Not to be missed is the works of nation's first generation landscape painters, the Hudson River School.. and also Arts and Crafts objects highlighting Chicago's Prairie School of Architects and craftsmen, including Frank Llyod Wright.. all on the Lower Level..

Images displayed above..
- Sculpture Court..
- Pocahontas [1868].. By Joseph Mozier
- The Solitude of Soul [1914].. By Lorado Taft
- Truth [1900].. By Daniel Chester French
- Lincoln [1916].. By Daniel Chester French
- The Sun Vow [1901].. By Hermon Atkins MacNeil
- The Old Dragoons of 1850 [1905/09].. By Frederic Remington
- Hanging Head Dragonfly.. Tiffany Studio

Jesting Around: Whenever I hear the name Pocahontas, the song Fever crosses my mind.. Captain Smith and Pocahontas, Had a very mad affair, When her daddy tried to kill him, She said Daddy, oh don't you dare, He gives me fever, With his kisses
Fever when he holds me tight, Fever I'm his Mrs.And Daddy won't you treat him right ...
That actually made me do some search on who Pocahontas was..

For more on.. [click on the link]..
The Art Institute of Chicago...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

AIC: Sculpture Court [The Solitude of Soul - By Lorado Taft]







The Solitude of Soul..
Sculptor: Lorado Taft
Completed: 1914
Location: Art Institute of Chicago
Galleries of American Art - Lower Level - Sculpture Court [Gallery: 161]..
This is so beautiful, why don't we have art like this anymore !?!!!

























Some more of Lorado Taft works that I have seen..
# Lorado Taft - Fountain of the Great Lakes.. Fountain of Time.. Heald Square Monument.. Eternal Silence [Tomb of Dexter Graves].. Crusader [Tomb of Victor F. Lawson]..

For more on.. [click on the link]..
The Art Institute of Chicago...