“John Singer Sargent and Chicago’s Gilded Age” drew me to the Art Institute this week, and it’s a beautiful exhibition. But it was “Flesh: Ivan Albright at the Art Institute of Chicago” that captured my imagination. I will post more images from my visit later; the above are my photos of two of the Albright self-portraits.
“Coveting Nature explores the ways in which botanists and entomologists worked in tandem with artists to record and disseminate knowledge in the early modern period (1500–1800).” This Krannert Art Museum exhibit runs through December 22.
Between and among adventures, we had time to catch up on Colony (and discuss the apparent Lost parallels, including Snyder = Ben and “Not everything is as it may seem”), finish a few books (Shylock Is My Name is well worth the effort), and plan a few more excursions — although not for over the holiday. By design, our three-day respite will not take us further from home than half the distance of our longest bike ride.
What have you planned for the long weekend?
I took the above images during a recent visit to Krannert Art Museum. The first two capture detail from Lorado Taft’s “The Blind” (1908). The next two images feature items in the permanent collection “Arts of Ancient Peru.” The grave post is dated circa 1000 – 1470 and the female effigy figure, circa 1100 – 1470. Charles Turzak’s “Oak Street Beach” (1933-1934) and Hugh Pearce Botts’ “Nana” appear in a temporary exhibition “Enough to Live On: Art of the WPA.”
Grant Wood’s work has always put me in mind of a Sinclair Lewis novel. At some point, I learned that this is not an arbitrary connection:
In 1937, Grant Wood was asked to illustrate a novel that, like his painting American Gothic, had already become a classic: Sinclair Lewis’s Main Street. Published nearly twenty years earlier in 1920, Lewis’s novel had come to represent the Midwest just as Wood’s paintings symbolized that region during the 1930s. Today Sinclair Lewis and Grant Wood still endure as cultural figures who captured something distinctive yet elusive about the Heartland; yet Lewis and Wood looked at the American Midwest through different eyes. Lewis saw provincialism and narrowness, while Wood gloried in the solid, earthy strength of his fellow midwesterners and their land. Both men felt conflicted about their homes, and these dichotomies filtered into their work.
At the Art Institute’s “Master Drawings Unveiled: 25 Years of Major Acquisitions,” Wood’s “January” reminded me anew that serendipity-synchronicity-synthesis weaves powerful connections in my learning life: At the urging of my youngest, who is currently reading Arrowsmith on the recommendation of a mentor, I have moved my copy of the 1925 Lewis classic to the top of my TBR stack.
From the museum, we made our way to the Chicago Shakespeare Theater for The Winter’s Tale, a play with which I grow more irritated each time I see it. It’s a fairy tale, my older daughter has patiently explained. Well, then, I have retorted, the only suitable conclusion would be the lonely and terrible death of Leontes. Cheek by Jowl’s production earned my respect not only for its inventive direction and wonderful performances but also for amplifying my sense that, yes, Leontes is a disturbed drama king, and his queen, his friend, his court are his enablers. This staging unabashedly holds all of them accountable for the despair that defines their kingdom, and it made. me. think. High praise.
On the way home, as we discussed the psychology at work in such an interpretation of the play, I scanned the landscape and wondered how Wood would capture the cold night. Oh! “January” is a winter’s tale.
Serendipity. Synchronicity. Synthesis.
The following are a few other images I took during our recent visit to the Art Institute.