R.A.H. (againstathorn) wrote,

Saturday - Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago

Saturday morning I woke up fairly early, enjoyed a simple breakfast of French toast, and headed downtown for a day at the Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago. I hadn’t been to the Art Institute in over two years, and in addition to adding their new Modern Wing the museum had also done quite a bit of rearranging.

As always I first went up the grand staircase to enter visit the European art galleries on the second floor. I typically enter in thought the west end which I recall being their Spanish gallery where you’re first greeted by Francisco de Zurbaran’s Crucifixion and El Greco’s Assumption of the Virgin. Well, it’s no longer the Spanish gallery and instead now hosts their Venetian paintings, including the four piece Tasso cycle by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, which I’ve always admired. From there I explored the floor clockwise. The following paintings struck my interest; Morning by Claude-Joseph Vernet, White Tablecloth by Chardin, Portrait of a Sculptor by Jean Baptiste Santerre, Still Life with Monkey by Jean Baptiste, Oudry, Panther, Cyrus, and Arapes by Laurent de La Hyre, Destruction of Pharaoh’s Army by Philippe Jacques de Loutherbourg, Palm House Interior by Carl Blechen, Circassian Cavalry Awaiting their Commanding Officer at the Door of a Byzantine Monument; Memory of the Orient by Alberto Pasini, Battle of Zama by Cornelis Cort, and another truly awesome still life by Pieter Claesz. It was interesting to see how the museum rearranged their galleries in different rooms. Everything seems to flow together much more smoothly than the previous set up.

Once again I took another look at Constable’s Stoke-by-Nayland, which is and always will be an ugly piece of landscape work. I also stumbled upon a work titled Kitchen Scene by Diego Velazquez which looked very familiar. The info description for this painting noted that a similar version is at the National Gallery of Ireland, the main difference being that National Gallery version depicts the Supper at Emmaus to the left of the subject while the Art Institute version shows only the negative space of a wall in its place. Pretty neat, huh? Well, I think it’s cool at least.

Again, the Art Institute has a wonderful collection of European art. My only qualm is they don’t have more Orientalist paintings by Jean Léon Gérôme.

From there I proceeded to their galleries of American art. Works of interest included Lights of other Days by John Peto, Coast of Labrador by William Bradford, Toning the Bell by Walter Shirlaw, Praire on Fire of Alvan Fisher, Puff of Smoke by Gifford Beal, Industructibles by Phillip Evergood, Coffee House by Alson Skinner Clark, and Rainy Day by Frank Weston Benson. Paintings by George Inness, Sandra Robinson Gifford, and Thomas Dorghty also caught my eye and I’ll definitely be looking into more of these artist’s works. The Albright paintings were as gruesome and hideous as ever, and I’m saying that as a compliment. His Portrait of Dorian Grey was on display. Yes, he painted an actual portrait of Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Grey, and it was actually commissioned for the 1945 film. If you haven’t seen it before you should definitely look it up. It’s a pretty disturbing interpretation of the painting as described in the book.

Might I add that over the past few months I’ve developed more of an appreciation for American art. For whatever reason I’d always found Europeans work more attractive, but as of late I’ve taken a new perspective toward work from this side of the Atlantic and how it depicts the our westward expansion of North America. Of course these paintings are far from solid historical documents, but they do offer some insight how people envisioned this strange new continent. The landscapes by Thomas Cole and Albert Bierstadt are give a more optimist picture which stands in sharp contrast to works by Thomas Hart Benton, John Rogers Cox, and other notable Regionalists.

As I’ve mentioned before the gallery includes works from the now defunct Terra Museum of American Art which was located on Michigan Ave. It’s nice to still be able to see some of them on public display.

Afterward I made a brief visit to the Modern Wing where I went to the third floor to see the European gallery. Contemporary art really isn’t my thing but it was still interesting to see the paintings in their new home. Their old location adjunct to the Impressionist gallery always seemed a bit cluttered. I also stopped by the photography gallery downstairs where they had an exhibit of architectural photographs by Richard Nickel who made extensive documentation of the works of Louis Sullivan up until the year 1972 when he was killed after the stairwell of the Old Stock Exchange building collapsed on him. He was at the site photographing the architectural details in the effort to save the building from destruction. It’s always struck me as a really, really story. In the 90’s there was a play released about him called They All Fall Down.

At around 4pm I left the museum and made my way home while I relaxed for a couple hours. Rani baked another batch of Strongbow cupcakes which she served at the club later that night. We went separately, as she wanted to get there a bit later when things were more active. I on the other hand prefer to go earlier so I can get some dancing in before the crowds. It was your typical night; good music, lots of dancing, ect. There was some sort of episode at the door where this drunken guy tried to rush in and pick a fight. The police were called and he was arrested. When I saw everyone crowded at the door I thought someone was having a medical emergency or something. Good to know it was just some belligerent fellow whom I presume had a lot to drink beforehand. As the police dragged him away he kept saying over and over, “God forbid I ever come back.” It was a strange situation.

I’d enjoyed a few really good ales that evening, them being Avery Redpoint, Dark Horse Amber and Boulder’s Mojo IPA. There not much more I can say except for that each stood as adequate representations of their respective styles. At this point I must have already remarked on over two hundred or so beers and it’s starting to feel redundant. Still, seeing as how this is a personal journal, a document of all the arbitrary detail in my odd little world, I’ll at least continue to make note of them—you know, for education purposes. Yeah, right.

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