Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago rocks big time.

The sheer size of the collection, the quality of the works, the presence of excellent unknowns, and interesting pieces by the well-knowns make it one of the greatest museums I’ve ever visited. I want to go back.

My favorite discovery was Harald Sohlberg’s Fisherman’s Cottage, 1906. The photo doesn’t do it justice. It captured me instantly from across a large, crowded room. The light on the cottage contrasting beautifully and hauntingly with the dark trees. Almost had a Magritte weirdness to it. I went back to look at it two more times.

Also discovered the crazy, wondrous furniture of Carlo Bugatti, father of Ettore, who designed the famous automobiles. Other highlights: Cezanne’s Basket of Apples; Toulouse-Lautrec’s At the Moulin Rouge; three paintings by Man Ray – you don’t get to see those too often; Magritte’s On the Threshold of Liberty; and 18 Joseph Cornell boxes.

I didn’t really like the unnecessary division between “American” and “European” sections. And they weren’t even consistent. Man Ray and Joseph Cornell were in the European section. Max Ernst had one work in the American section and one in the European (perhaps pre- and post-move to the U.S.?) They also had too many Monets, but then doesn’t everyone? Not enough Rousseau or Chirico, though they did have an interesting Chirico drawing I had never heard of.

But there were so many great paintings. I haven’t been that transfixed in a museum in a long, long time.

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