Sunday, July 04, 2010

The Art Institute of Chicago

On Thursday, July 1st, Brian and I visited the Art Institute of Chicago. For those of you who don't know, the Art Institute is one of Chicago's prominent sights to be seen. First of all, it's huge and gorgeous, with cool architecture and all that. It's downtown (the Loop!) near Grant Park and it is famous and has been a significant part of the art world for years and years. (Side note: I love the phrase "art world." I rather like imagining art as being a world.)

We went on Thursday because admission is free from 5 p.m. 'til it closes at 8 p.m. on Thursdays. I am a big fan of going to museums at the times they offer free admission. This is how I saw the also-famous-and-important MoMA in New York, too. I love that most museums offer free days and/or free portions of days. You should check out the museums in your town - they probably offer free admission at some point, which is entirely awesome.

So, about the Art Institute of Chicago? I was totally blown away. Lots and lots of art. Of course there is far more than one can see in a few hours, which is why I plan (I had already thought of this before going) to visit it more than once, probably one Thursday per month. If I worked downtown, I might even wander in there every Thursday after work. Wandering solo through museums and just kind of seeing what catches your eye is a great way to visit them, as opposed to trying to systematically see every piece.

However, there are definitely more than a few destination pieces in the Art Institute of Chicago. Among them is American Gothic. I was so excited to see it! It's SO famous. And, as Brian pointed out while we were looking at it, it's so often parodied that it's interesting to see it and remember what their actual faces really look like in the painting. His face is so - set. And she's kind of gazing off to the side. There are lots of emotions captured in the work. As we wandered through the rooms of the Art Institute, I knew we were about to enter the room with American Gothic but you don't even have to wonder where it is, because first you see the obligatory crowd in a semi-circle, standing in front of it taking pictures with their cell phones. It was the same thing with Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night in MOMA. I rather liked standing in front of American Gothic, surrounded by people looking at it and discussing it in multiple European languages.

Speaking of Van Gogh, a few of my boy's paintings are at the Art Institute of Chicago. I swoon! I loved looking at more of his stuff. I totally get him so much. All my feelings of reverence and connection for him and his life and his madness and his art came flooding back to me as I wandered through the Van Gogh room. There are tons and tons of European and impressionist and Monet and other paintings, too - and that was just a small part of the entire Art Institute.

I really liked Monet's Haystacks series. And we spent a while in the O'Keefe/Stieglitz room, where I discovered that I rather enjoy Marsden Hartley's paintings.

Oh, and we saw two other mega-famous paintings there, Edward Hopper's Nighthawks and Georges Seurat's A Sunday on the Grande Jatte. They're big. A Sunday on the Grande Jatte is really big.

I like the Art Institute of Chicago!

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