Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday List #19-Chicago's Art Institute

Chicago is home to one of the greatest art museums in the world, The Art Institute. As a member of the AI I visit as often as I can. I can easily spend the entire day there wandering the labyrinth of collections, attending events, relaxing in the members lounge for a coffee or cocktail, enjoying lunch in one of the cafes or shopping at the museum gift shops. It is truly one of my favorite places to be.

Last Friday I attended a gallery talk on Doris Lee's 1935 painting Thanksgiving. A museum education member gave a short lecture on this piece as well as 2 other pieces that focused on the tradition of celebrating a bountiful harvest. These short gallery talks are one of the best ways to learn about the AI's collection as well as the artist and story behind the work.

Depending on how much time I have during my visit I try and see a few of my favorite works each time I am at AI. For today's Monday List I am sharing 10 of my favorite works at AI.
  1. Jacopo da Empoli's Portrait of a Nobelwoman Dressed in Mourning. This large painting is mesmerizing. Maybe it's the sheer size of the work, her imposing expression or her fantastic mourning clothes. Just love it.
  2. Jules Adolphe Breton's The Song of the Lark. There is no way to describe the color of the sun in this work. It's so brilliant in person it's like the artist captured the sun. I love the look on the young woman's face, I always imagine that if she is listening to the song of a lark, it has a very special meaning to her.
  3. William Powell Frith's The Lovers. To me this man and woman are Jane Austen characters. This little painting is hanging in a hallway, walk quick and you'll miss it. I wonder if they had a happy ending.
  4. Harald Sohlber's Fisherman's Cottage. The cottage glows. It's like a perfect vacation getaway, I can hear the water and the rustling of the trees.
  5. Monet's London Series. This is usually my first stop at AI. I love each of the works in this series of bridges. London, foggy, soft colors. Very dreamlike. My love for this series is one of the reasons I went to Giverny to visit Monet's home and gardens when I was in Paris last year.
  6. Every work by Ivan Albright. When I first saw Ivan Albright's Picture of Dorian Gray, I was horrified (he painted it for the 1940's movie adaption of Oscar Wilde's famous novel) The more I look at it the more I admire it. It's really quite ghastly but hard to look away from. I recently bought a print of Into the World There Came a Soul Called Ida and I might get some strange questions from guests when they see it hanging in my home. His works are haunting, check out another favorite, his famous Door, That Which I Should Have Done I Did Not Do. Both the Picture of Dorian Gray and Door are HUGE works which makes them even more fascinating.
  7. John Singer Sargent's Madame Paul Escudier (Women in Blue Dress). When I think of grand portraits in castles, I think of Sargent. I love the woman's dress, very Edith Wharton era. Love the darkness of the room.
  8. Dante Gabriel Rossetti's Beata Beatrix. So sad and so lovely. The artist's dead wife at the minute of her death and in the small panel below the portrait, the moment he meets his wife in the afterlife.
  9. Thorne Miniature Rooms. 68 tiny little rooms, a historical dollhouse. You have to see these rooms to believe it.
  10. William Zorach's Summer. Surreal and sexy, you can just imagine what they've been doing or what they are about to do.
If you are a Chicagoan or will be visiting the City, AI is a must see. You have to linger here, there is no rushing, you'll miss something wonderful. If you are looking for someone to wander with let me know, I will bring you for free as a member guest.

No comments: