Art. Institutions. Discuss.

Here’s a guest post from indispensible preceptor Anna Lee, who will be your virtual guide to the Art Institute and art institutions in Chicago in general. We’ll be visiting the Art Institute as a MAPH horde on Thursday evening (meet at MAPHCentral at 4:15 PM or at the Modern Wing entrance at 5:00 PM). Anna’s intro gives you a great overview of some of the museum’s highlights–and of other places you’ll want to check out around town.

Although the Art Institute of Chicago’s collection is strong in various areas, the Impressionist holdings tend to be particularly popular. In the last few years, the newly-opened Modern Wing has also been a major draw. But since you’ll have the entire year to explore the museum, here are a few of the most “famous” members of the collection to start you off. It’s great to view these in person, no matter how many reproductions you’ve already seen, and it’s nice to know where they are when relatives visit. The links below will take you to each work’s official AIC description, which includes an image as well as its location in the museum:

GEORGES SEURAT, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte:

Seurat, "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte." Just like Promontory Point, n'est ce pas?

More Art to dazzle your senses after the jump

No clue why this painting is so mysterious to people. They're obviously talking about the nature of perversions.

GRANT WOODAmerican Gothic

MAPH will age you.

With the addition of the Modern Wing in 2009, the Art Institute became the second largest art museum in the country. The Modern Wing, designed by architect Renzo Piano, is characterized by its glass, steel, and limestone construction, as well as by the phrase “zero gravity.” Zero gravity refers to the overarching theme of weightlessness that can be seen in various architectural elements, such as the “flying carpet” roof/sunshade that appears to float overhead, and the slight space between the walls of the structure and the floor (even between the benches and the floor): elements intended to give visitors the feeling that these material elements are suspended in space.
  • A list of current exhibitions can be found here
  • If you go down the stairs after immediately entering the main building, you’ll find the photography galleries, as well as the Thorne Miniature Rooms. Ever wonder what a California living room looked like in 1940 . . . in miniature? Well now, happily, you can find out.
  • Admission to the Art Institute is always free with your student ID (and your ID gets you benefits all around the city), though you still need to stand in line for your free ticket. If you suspect that you’ll be visiting the AIC a lot this year, it may be worthwhile to purchase a student membership for $40. This membership gives you access to the members entrance, so you bypass the long lines, and allows you to bring one guest into the museum for free as well.
Other art related notes:
  • Millennium Park is nearby, as is the Museum of Contemporary Photography. There is also a School of the Art Institute of Chicago, which has a Visiting Artists Program that I imagine will be of interest to many of you. Links below.
  • A bit north, but still in the loop, is the Museum of Contemporary Art. The MCA is also free with your student ID, and you could arrange to walk past Pioneer Court on the way there – to see the 26-foot high sculpture of Marilyn Monroe with her skirt blown sky high. This sculpture, which is by Seward Johnson, is called Forever Marilyn and has been generating mountains of buzz lately, both positive and negative. Check it out and see what you think. Also free, obviously.
There are many many places to see art in Chicago, but for now, here are links to a few of the major and local ones:
(on campus):

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