Day Trip - The Art Institute of Chicago

How did I not know about the Art Institute of Chicago? When I mentioned taking a day during Spring Break to visit Chicago, my friend Jill suggested going to the Art Institute. Silly me, it never dawned on me that Chicago would be home to the second largest art museum in the US (behind the Met). I enjoy love art, but the act of visiting an art museum has always been reserved for trips overseas (why IS that?). Now that paradigm has been shifted for me – the collection at the Art Institute is truly impressive, and we only scratched the surface of its offerings in the five hours we spent there. Jill and I took our boys and they managed to stay positive during the visit, although if you ask them, they would say it was “boring”. Jill and I agreed – they would look back later and realize they got more out of the visit than they originally thought. [In fact, the very next day, all four boys spent time creating art – we are convinced they were inspired by Friday’s visit].

We started in the new Modern Art Wing, which opened in 2009. I love visiting Modern art galleries due to its enveloping experience. One can’t just slap a modern piece on the wall (which is how traditional art is displayed) and call it done. For modern art, the gallery space, the architecture of the room, the lighting, the placement of pieces must be designed to maximize its impact. Everything works together to elicit a response from the viewer. I feel like I am part of the exhibit, and I admit to watching other visitors in the gallery as they interact with the space.

In the Modern Art Wing, I saw lines everywhere – vertical, horizontal, all working to cut through the space, to provide interesting vantage points, to provide a dissection of the scene behind or in front.
City Lines

Black and Blue

I was particularly drawn to photo journalist Dayanita Singh's exhibit, Museum of Chance, which features new photographs of her subjects, in a unique rotational manner. The following poem was included in the collection and as I attempted to take a photo of it, I was informed that photography was not allowed in this particular exhibition.

I smiled at you because I thought that you
Were someone else; you smiled back; and there grew
Between two strangers in a library
Something that seems like love; but you loved me
(If that's the word) because you thought that I
Was other than I was. And by and by
We found we'd been mistaken all the while
From that first glance, that first mistaken smile.

-Vikram Seth

Outside the Modern Wing, we enjoyed extensive Impressionism and Post-Impressionism Collection, which includes famous works by Renoir, van Gogh, Monet and Seurat. Moving from room to room, we took in the progression from new to old, watching the evolution of technique, style and subject matter within the art world.

Finally, we quickly walked through the Thorn Miniature Rooms - miniaturized yet exquisitely detailed models of American and European rooms through the decades. There were two Asian room models that I saw - one which I photographed:
Mini Zen
All contained in area no bigger than a shoebox.

We left the Art Institute and walked the short distance to Cloud Gate, aka "The Bean". After all, a trip to Chicago isn't complete until you've taken a Selfie there:
#bean #selfie #chicago
Yeah, our boys are hanging around in the background, those goofs!

The boys will pose for Jill but not for me:
Thrilled #bean

Infinite perspectives abound in the medium of art.

Anita Johnson  – (April 2, 2014 at 11:05 AM)  

it has been way to long since i visited Chicago...with two elderly moms and kids and grand kids, it always puts a visit on the back burner. This is the year to see the bean!

Nicki  – (April 3, 2014 at 8:25 AM)  

and the Univ. of Chicago has an amazing museum as well - when we were there it held Egyptian artifacts (plus the campus is a beaut). Love the Bean - so simple and awesome at the same time.

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