August 10, 2011

Going over the wall

Rushing out of a client meeting yesterday afternoon, I ran down the street looking for a cab out to Midway airport so I could grab some dinner and fly home. And as I raised my arm, I realized I was standing in front of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Well, a man's got to believe in something. I've been here at different times in my life probably more than any other museum. They'll still check your stuff at the door - I left my briefcase, coat, and tie, and got a ticket. I had an hour.

In through the Asian wing, past this awesome Buddha. The Asian collection is very good, very well selected. There's a Japanese section that's small but very interesting. At the end of the hall I come face-to-face with this guy. Rather striking, impressive, and...wha...?! 5,000 years old? Yes, that is correct. According the press release, "the quality, age, and rarity make this statuette the most important loan to the museum for its collection of ancient art."

Haven't even looked at a painting yet...and this is where Chicago just kills you. I start off with a few minutes looking at these - really, you could pull up a chair and spend the whole day here, but in the next room you've got to say hi to Toulouse-Lautrec, and (following in Ferris Buehler's footsteps) surely Seurat deserves 30 seconds of your time... Great, that's done, ready for Gauguin?

This place really needs a recovery room. Some people just get dazed and wander out to the steps to stare at the O'Keefe.

Given my station in life I have to make a brief detour. In 1977 they installed here a reconstruction of the old trading floor from the Chicago Stock Exchange. Designed in 1893 by Adler & Sullivan, the detailing is just beautiful. An elegant arena for a more civilized age.

On my way out...wait, what? There's a Modern Wing now? Yes - opened in 2009. It's gorgeous, if somewhat white and rectangular. Also, it's big - the statue in that picture - Thomas Schütte's Vater Staat ('Father State') - is 18 feet tall.

No time, but I have to look on on the special exhibition, "The Avant Garde in Everyday Life". It's small but very good with examples of posters, postcards, tableware (especially by the blessed Sutnar) and other early attempts to bring a higher level of material culture to the masses. And, from Czechoslovokia (1929) a whiff of caution for China.

Then into the cab, and back to the present, which isn't, alas, all that different from the past.

3 Comments:

Blogger First Sea Lord said...

An hour in Art Institute of Chicago is like meeting Halle Barry and just asking her which plane is going to Chicago.

August 11, 2011 at 11:54 AM  
Blogger The Other Front said...

Artus interruptus.

August 11, 2011 at 6:51 PM  
Blogger First Sea Lord said...

I'd like to add that I used that analogy because I actually did that.

August 12, 2011 at 10:18 PM  

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