Monday, June 06, 2011

Art Institute of Chicago

I was lucky enough to have a little time Sunday morning to check out the Art Institute of Chicago. A friend of mine who lives in Chicago and works at the AIC hooked us up with some tickets to the museum, very generous.

An author once said that viewing art should be done in limited quantity. To try to make it through an entire museum and all the galleries is not only taxing but eventually the senses become dull and it's hard to appreciate the art that you're viewing. I think I subscribe to this philosophy. I enjoy trips to the museum but I don't have much of an eye for art, unfortunately. An hour or so hitting a couple of galleries is time well spent and easy on the eyes.

Two areas of the museum I wanted to see most were the Impressionism gallery and the Modern American Art gallery pre 1950.

A lot of the impressionists were represented in the first gallery. Monet (water lilies and hay stacks abound), Manet, Cézanne, Pissarro, and Renoir. I don't recall seeing anything by Degas. Of course what I wanted to see most was Un dimanche après-midi à l'Île de la Grande Jatte - 1884 by Georges Seurat. It didn't disappoint. Not only is the work as beautiful as I imagine and a great example of pointillism, it's also a very large painting.

The image above I took with my iPhone at the gallery. Apparently the AIC doesn't have an rules about photography. Indeed everyone was snapping pictures left and right and some with flashes. I found this very odd and surprising.

The next gallery I wanted to see was the modern American art pre 1950. This is where the story takes a turn into what I can only describe as an episode of Seinfeld. We tried to use the map to find the gallery, it was supposed to be somewhere on the second floor. After wandering through some horrific modern art wings (modern art isn't my cup of tea) it was time to break down and ask directions.

"Excuse me, can you tell me how to find the gallery that houses American Gothic?"

"Go back to the other end of the this gallery, go down the stairs, head toward the Asian gift store, make a left, go up the set of stairs and you should find it."

After going up the same sets of stairs and through an Asian gallery several times we were unsuccessful in finding our destination. We ask for directions again.

"Go back to the other end of the this gallery, go down the stairs, head toward the Asian gift store, make a left, go up the set of stairs and you should find it."

This scenario happens THREE MORE TIMES! By the last time I ask for directions my eye is twitching and I'm about to have a meltdown. Finally we find the Asian gift store which was masked due to it's close proximity to the Asian gallery. Finally, after all this time, and about a million stairs, we find what we're looking for...

I'm still not sure the picture of Grant Wood's wife and his dentist friend was worth it!

If you're ever in Chicago, the Art Institute of Chicago is worth the $18.00 admission fee and even better when a friend can smuggle you in for free. As a casual art observer the museum was more than I expected and I look forward to exploring more of it in future trips. Beware trying to find the modern American art wing!


Brilliantly Blonde said...

Ferris Bueller would be so proud!!
Btw...if you thought AIC was unnerving, try searching for Atilla the Hun in the Museum of Natural History in NYC with 30 teenagers and ME as the group leader. I even needed a drink after that one!

Dave said...

I bet! Children are so evil...