August 20, 2019

Manet and Modern Beauty at the Art Institute of Chicago

You might think that yet another art show on a French Impressionist would be a missable event, but the Art Institute’s exhibit, Manet and Modern Beauty should change your mind.

It has been over 50 years since the AIC has done a solo show on Edouard Manet and the curators have wisely honed in on his later years. Ill health and less mobility may have caused him to turn to smaller canvases and more intimate subjects like feminine beauty with pastels and water colors joining his use of oils.

I loved a small transitional room featuring live plants, a lovely view of the green foliage outside of the museum and a wall of photos depicting Manet’s social network. Unbeknownst to me, female artist Berthe Morisot was his sister-in-law.

His letters on display are filled with delightful images of flowers, fruits and beautifully dressed women. We also get to see unfinished works that allow the viewer to get glimpses of his creative process. The exhibit is punctuated with his larger oil canvases as well. A final room of his flower paintings is like the dessert course to this satisfying artistic meal.

All children under 14 and Chicagoans under age 18 are admitted free. Illinois residents gain free admittance Thursdays from 5 pm to 8 pm when the museum is open later.

https://www.artic.edu/exhibitions/2822/manet-and-modern-beauty

Chicago Architecture Center, new location on Wacker Drive

I finally got to check out the new Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) on Wacker just east of Michigan Avenue.

Architecture buffs will rejoice that Chicago architects get their due in this modern museum between the Hyatt Regency and One Illinois Center, the Mies Van de Rohe office center at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive.

Current exhibits include the stunning “Building Tall” on the second floor which contains models of famous skyscrapers throughout the world. Chicago architects came up with several building techniques that allowed ever higher structures including the Hancock and Sears/Willis
Tower.

Not to be missed is the Chicago City Model Experience in the lower level. A short, but comprehensive film on Chicago architecture informs both the tourists and the locals. The exhibit features 4,000 building models of downtown and environs.

Walking and boat tour tickets can be purchased at the CAC entrance. A gift shop is located in back of the ticket area.

As an added benefit, the CAC boat tours board just below at river level. The Chicago Architecture Center’s address is 111 E. Wacker Drive while the Chicago’s First Lady Cruises Dock is 112 E. Wacker Drive.

http://www.architecture.org/

John Singer Sargent & Chicago’s Gilded Age at the Art Institute of Chicago

Charles Deering, Sargent’s ardent art patron

With a hundred pieces of art, John Singer Sargent & Chicago’s Gilded Age, the exhibit currently showing at the Art Institute of Chicago features not only Sargent work but that of his art colleagues and contemporaries. Mixed in with the Sargent pieces, the viewer gets to see work by Claude Monet, Giovanni Boldini, William Merritt Chase, Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Anders Zorn, a Swedish artist who I plan to investigate further.

Although John Singer Sargent was an American, he was born and raised in Europe which makes his influence on Chicago’s Gilded Age all the more remarkable. From 1888 until his death in 1925, Sargent’s work was featured in 20 Chicago exhibitions including the 1893 Colombian Exposition.

Street in Venice – 1st Sargent work to be shown in Chicago 1888

Sargent greatly benefited from the patronage of many wealthy art aficionados including local businessman, Charles Deering (CEO of what would become International Harvester). This exhibit includes AIC possessions, work from private collections and other museums. Alas, his most notorious painting, Madame X, owned by the Met in NYC is not part of this art assemblage.

Sargent worked in water color and charcoal on everything from nudes to landscapes, but his oil paint portraiture was his absolute forté. This exhibit beautifully supports that opinion.

I will include the AIC link for admission info, but you may consider going on a Thursday evening when the museum is open until 8 pm. When leaving, I saw charming tables with umbrellas in the AIC’s central courtyard. One hour in the exhibit and then perhaps a cool beverage in the “plein air?”

http://sargent.artic.edu/

Art Institute of Chicago exhibit: Revoliutsiia! Demonstratsiia! Soviet Art Put to the Test

There is a most unusual and fascinating exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago right now, Revoliutsiia! Demonstratsiia! Soviet Art Put to the Test.

This large installation in Regenstein Hall illustrates the dramatic shift from Imperial Russian design to that of the Soviets after 1917. Literally everything was impacted by this cultural tsunami. Graphic design on posters, art direction in theaters and in film, fabric, dishes, furniture, mobiles and paintings all reflected this new vision.


Some of my favorite things in the exhibit include a replica of Rodchenko’s Workers Club including a black and red chess set, a 2 1/2 minute recording of Lenin giving a speech, a space that resembles an agitprop train compartment that features Soviet cartoons and documentaries as well as a 1926 exhibition room that features paintings by Piet Mondrian, Francis Picabia and El Lissitzky.

If you choose to be immersed in this stark and geometric world that has style implications in the present day, you have until January 15, 2018 to catch Revoliutsiia! Demonstratsiia! Soviet Art Put to the Test.

Dior Exhibit in Paris

If you are interested in fashion and happen to be in Paris before January 7, 2018, run, do not walk to the Dior exhibit at the Louvre’s side museum, Les Arts Décoratifs.

If you don’t buy a ticket in advance, bring an umbrella and a friend or a book because you will most likely wait up to an hour outdoors for admittance. Le tout Paris and female tourists of all ages are flocking to this fantastic homage to the fashion house of Dior.

Not only are the gowns and accessories breath-taking, but the presentation of the fashions is innovative. One large glass panel has a pointillist photo that disappears when the lights are raised to expose the elegant dresses inside the vitrine. Another gigantic glass showcase features a profusion of single-color items such as hats, miniature dresses, jewelry, shoes and other accessories. One follows groupings of red, pink, yellow, green, blue, silver and white items that absolutely delight the eye.

Another stunning display has a ceiling of white leaves that drape above the stunning Dior dresses.

There was another room across the lobby which I did not get to see. Flut alors! The guards are quite firm about leaving the museum at closing time.

Sorry to say that very few men can be seen attending this exhibit. Their loss because the ingenuity of Christian Dior and the subsequent house designers along with the breathtaking museum displays make this a uni-sex crowd-pleaser.

Designs by Raf Simons, John Galliano, Christian Dior and Marc Bohan in a chromatic display in the Dior exhibition at Les Arts Décoratifs.

For more information and ticket purchase:
https://www.dior.com/couture/en_us/the-house-of-dior/exhibitions

Terra Cotta Warriors and Moholy-Nagy: Future Present

I usually don’t write about exhibits that have just left Chicago, but I decided to write about two showings that are moving on to other cities.

It has long been my dream to see the famed Terra Cotta Warriors in their original excavation site in Xi’an, China. The Field Museum exhibit which ran from March 4, 2016 to January 8, 2017 seemed to be the next best thing.
My thumbnail review: admission and parking were expensive and the exhibit itself was rather small with very few artifacts that weren’t reproductions. If you never plan to visit China, you may want to make a spring visit to the Terra Cotta Warriors in Seattle, but I myself am holding out hope to see the real thing in Xi’an.

Terra Cotta Warriors Exhibit
Pacific Science Center in Seattle, WA
April 8 to Sept 3, 2017

A much more satisfying exhibit was Moholy-Nagy: Future Present which ran from Oct. 2, 2016 to January 3, 2017 at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Hungarian Laszlo Moholy-Nagy was a painter, photographer, film-maker, sculptor, advertising man, product designer and theater set designer. Happily, the exhibit gave us glimpses of every phase of his work. Room after room featured samples of his work from his lucite and metal chandeliers to his photos, films, paintings and graphic designs.

Moholy-Nagy holds a place of honor in Chicago history having been instrumental in creating the New Bauhaus here which morphed into the Institute of Design on the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) campus.

The Moholy-Nagy exhibit was previously at the Guggenheim Museum in New York city and now moves to Los Angeles. West coasters who admire early 20th century art and design are strongly urged to attend this fine show.

Moholy-Nagy Future Present
Feb. 12 to June 18, 2017
Los Angeles County Museum