R.A.H. (againstathorn) wrote,

Art Institute of Chicago - Art and Appetite

This past Sunday I paid a visit to The Art Institute of Chicago to see their featured exhibits.

Number one on my list was Art and Appetite: American Painting, Culture, and Cuisine, hosted in the Regenstein Hall. As someone who loves both American art and the still life genre, I really enjoyed this exhibit. I walked in expecting a simple showcase of still life pieces from the Art Institute of Chicago’s own collection, but I was happy to discover that they’d assembled a number of exceptional paintings from throughout the States. It was incredible to walk the galleries and note works I’d seen at The Metropolitan, the Brooklyn Museum, the National Gallery, and the Smithsonian, as well as those from museums I’d eventually like to visit, such as the Carnegie, the Wadsworth Atheneum, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Just awesome! Also included were pieces from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston*. Below is a listing of featured works which were of special interest, and the bold indicates those of super-special interest:

William J. McClosky - Wrapped Oranges, 1889 - Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth
William Merritt Chase - Still Life, Fish, 1912 - Brooklyn Museum
Thomas Cole - A Pic-Nic Party, 1846 - Brooklyn Museum
Severin Roesen - Still Life with Fruit, 1860s - Brooklyn Museum
Lilly Martin Spencer - Kiss Me and You'll Kiss the 'Lasses, 1856 - Brooklyn Museum
William Michael Harnett - Trophy of the Hunt, 1885 - Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
Albert F. King - Late Night Snack, 1900 - Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
Preston Dickinson - The Artist's Table, 1925 - Collection of Varney Absworth
William Merritt Chase - An English Cod, 1904 - Corcoran Gallery of Art
Raphaelle Peale - Corn and Cantaloupe, 1813 - Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
Robert Spear Dunning - Still Life with Root Vegetables, 1879 - David and Laura Grey Collection
Willard Metclaf - The Ten Cent Breakfast, 1887 - Denver Art Museum
John Haberle - Grandma's Hearthstone, 1890 - Detroit Institute of Arts
Joseph Decker - Upset, 1887 - Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco
Andrew John Henry Way - Oysters in Half Shell, 1863 - Maryland Historical Society
John Fredrick Peto - Market Basket, Har and Umbrella, after 1890 - Milwaukee Art Museum
Raphaelle Peale - Still Life with Steak, 1817 - Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, Utica
John Singleton Copley - Mrs. Ezekiel Goldthwait, 1771 - Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Charles Bird King - Still Life on a Green Cloth, c. 1815 - Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Jerome Thompson - A Pic Nick in the Woods of New England, 1855 - Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Lilly Martin Spencer - Shake Hands?, 1854 - Ohio Historical Society
Raphaelle Peale - Covered Peaches (Fruitpies, with Peaches), 1819 - Philadelphia Museum of Art
Elizabeth Paxton - The Breakfast Tray, 1910 - Private Collection
Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze - Game, 1860 - Robert L. Stuart Collection
Peter Blume - Vegetable Dinner, 1927 - Smithsonian American Art Museum
Raphaelle Peale - Melons and Morning Glories, 1813 - Smithsonian American Art Museum
Helen Searle - Still Life with Fruit and Champagne, 1869 - Smithsonian American Art Museum
Stuart Davis - Supper Table, 1925 - Terra Foundation for American Art
Robert Spear Dunning - Harvest of Cherries, 1866 - Terra Foundation for American Art
De Scott Evans - The Irish Question, 1880s - The Art Institute of Chicago
William Glackens - At Mouquin's, 1905 - The Art Institute of Chicago
William Michael Harnett - For Sunday's Dinner, 1888 - The Art Institute of Chicago
William Michael Harnett - Just Dessert, 1891 - The Art Institute of Chicago
Raphaelle Peale - Still Life--Strawberries, Nuts, 1822 - The Art Institute of Chicago
Raphaelle Peale - Still Life with Wine, Cake, and Nuts, 1819 - The Huntington Library
Seymour Joseph Guy - The Contest for the Bouquet: The Family of Robert Gordon in Their New York Dining-Room, 1866 - The Metropolitan Museum of Art
James Peale - Still Life: Balsam Apple and Vegetables, 1820 - The Metropolitan Museum of Art
James Peale - Still Life with Vegetables, 1826 - The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Joseph Decker - Green Plums, 1885 - The National Gallery of Art, Washington
John Fredrick Peto - Breakfast, 1890s - The National Gallery of Art, Washington
John Fredrick Peto - An English Breakfast, 1890s - The National Gallery of Art, Washington
De Scott Evans - Free Sample, Take One, 1890 - The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond
Francis Edmonds - The Epicure, 1838 - Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
John F. Francis - Still Life with Fruit and Wine, 1858 - Westmoreland Museum of American Art, Greensburg, PA.
Thomas Hart Benton - The Lord is My Shepherd, 1926 - Whitney Museum of American Art
John Lewis Krimmel - The Quilting Frolic, 1813 - Winterthur Museum

It was especially neat to turn the corner of one gallery and suddenly find myself face-to-face with that huge John Haberle painting from the Detroit Institute of Fine Arts. That work alone totally made the exhibit for me. Also, the still life by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze, popular for his classic Washington Crossing the Delaware, introduced me to a new aspect of the artist’s work. It was great to see another rare still life by Charles Bird King, having admired his Poor Artist’s Cupboard at the Corcoran. The festive scene by Jerome Thompson possessed all the narrative qualities displayed in his equally striking The Belated Party on Mansfield Mountain at The Met. But what really floored me was Albert F. King’s Late Night Snack, not only on account of its meticulous attention to detail but also its choice of subject matter: beer, mustard and crackers. Hell yes. I try to be objective when judging the merits of still lifes, but this item won me over for obviously unfair reasons.

Next on the agenda was Violence and Virtue: Artemisia Gentileschi’s “Judith Slaying Holofernes” \, a special showcase of the painting on loan from the Uffizi Gallery. I’d seen this classic work reproduced in countless art history books, but that doesn’t compare to seeing it in person, which allowed me the opportunity to appreciate all those details which never make the transition to print, such as the blood spurts from the Holofernes’ neck and the delicate bed sheet creases. And I love how Judith has her leg positioned over the mattress to level down on her victim; You can really feel the weight of each figure within this violent scene. Amazing.

From there I went down to Galleries 124–127 for Dreams and Echoes: Drawings and Sculpture in the David and Celia Hilliard Collection, featuring a works by a variety of artists active from the 16th to the 20th century. Here one will find drawings by the likes of Edgar Degas, Odilon Redon, and Jean-François Millet, but a majority of the collection contains works by relatively obscure artists, which is always neat for added research. The exhibition book would be of special interest to me, even more so than the book for Art and Appetite.

Last I stopped up to the European galleries to see the Art Institute’s recently acquired Neapolitan Crèche, currently on display for the holidays. Produced in the mid-18th century Naples, this is apparently one of the most elaborate examples to be found outside the city. Incredible work. It depicts a nativity scene, of course, but it’s so detailed and intricate that one could probably examine it multiple times and upon each visit still find something new. Awesome.

* Way back in 2010 we visited the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston but their new American wing, Art of the Americas, was still undergoing work, so we missed out on seeing the collection, much to my disappointment!

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