April 9, 2018 – on a damp, freezing day in Chicago, the Art Institute was the place to be. Although here are to be found many depressing exhibits evidencing the decline of art, there are still wonders, old and new, to be seen in the very attractive and grand halls.
Aside from the Thorne miniatures and a delightful collection of paperweights by Baccarat and others, discussed elsewhere, the AIC is very strong on painting before and during the Counter-Reformation and the development of impressionism (a wrong turn, but full of inherent interest).
Here is a mere sample of some of the good work on show, 2 separate Antwerp pieces hung together, showing Daniel receiving cistern water from Bethlehem, and Solomon & Sheba:
This lovely Rubens of St. Francis in meditation, c. 1615:
Or the ‘beautifully grotesque’ Cranach crucifixion:
or, going back a bit, El Greco’s flaming, evocative anointing with oil at the Feast in the House of Simon:
Poor St. Jerome is still adrift in the wilderness, c/- of the Antwerp Group:
The early moderns are of interest…the pre-impressionists, impressionists, and post-impressionists feature prominently:
And those masters of louche entertainments, Toulouse-Lautrec with his absinthe-flavoured ladies and Degas with his girleens…
We were interested in Édouard Vuillard’s ‘Madame Arthur Fontaine in a Pink Shawl,’ and ‘Easter Mystery’ by Maurice Denis (1891):
And there were some nice fin de siècle pieces by Whistler and J.S. Sargent:
Turner and Whistler have to answer a charge of smudging in the Celestial Court of Taste. Their work, some of it pleasing we concede, led to people like Pollock:
Of the later moderns, we liked the work of Ivan Albright, both his Dorian Gray and The Door (‘That Which I Should Have Done I Did Not Do’)…
We rather liked these 2 bits of abstract expressionism:
…P liked the troubling scenario of ‘Slumber Party’ by Eric Fischl, (1983):
and also the music tones of Georgia O’Keefe (her nonsense art-theory aside):
…and some American folk art rounded out the visit…
…before we turned aside from the crowded museum shop and went to the reading room instead.