As I have shared on a few posts, I really love impressionist art, and Monet is my favorite. I really enjoyed the Muse de Orsay in Paris. However, while we were in Chicago, one of the top 5 things I had to do see and explore the Art institute Chicago. I had been to Chicago a few years ago, but all the impressionist art was on loan to a museum in Texas. I was disappointed, but knew I’d be back and be able to see their collection.
Walking up the museum, the first two things I noticed was the amazing architecture of the building itself, as well as the two bronze lions that flank the Michigan Avenue entrance. They were made for the Art Institute’s opening at its current location on December 8, 1893, and were a gift from Mrs. Henry Field. They have unofficial “names,” given to them by their sculptor, Edward Kemeys, that are more like designations. The lions are not identical and thus are named for their poses: The south lion stands “In an Attitude of Defiance,” while the north lion is “On the Prowl.” They were really cool and reminded me of the lions named Patience and Fortitude at the Stephen A. Schwarzman New York Public Library in New York. Once inside, we bought the combo ticket which also allowed us to visit the Sears Tower later that afternoon, yay! Anyway, we made our way to the entrance and grabbed a couple of maps, which we definitely needed as The Art Institute Chicago offers almost a million square feet to explore! It is 3 floors and huge. Definitely need a plan on what you want to see. On the back of the map was a list of some of the highlights of the museum and things you didn’t want to miss. Even broke it down depending on how many hours you had. I thought that was brilliant and very helpful.
Of course I wanted to start with the Impressionist art which was in a section they called European Art before 1900. Once we found our way there, we wandered through several sections of art by my favorite Claude Monet, as well as Georges Seurat, Vincent van Gogh, Alfred Sisley, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Eugène-Louis Boudin, Paul Gauguin, Paul Cézanne, Édouard Manet, as well as many others. I was in heaven and awed every time we stepped into another room. There we so many to see, I couldn’t even name my favorites. However, they did have a lot of Monet’s from his house in Giverny and a few haystacks. Always cool to see. We also spent some time in their Contemporary Art section. It was quite interesting and they had a lot of Andy Worhol who I really like too. Besides Worhol they had some by Gerhard Richter, Jasper Johns, Cindy Sherman , Robert Rauschenberg, Richard Prince, and many others. Another artist I really liked in this section was a couple pieces by Jackson Pollock. Apparently they have quite a few, but I was only able to find two. Maybe they were on loan somewhere. Either way, we enjoyed this section too. There was so much to see and do at the Art Institute Chicago that we didn’t have as much time to see all that we wanted to, but we hit the highlights. A piece of art that Gene and I had both wanted to see was the American Gothic painting by Grant Wood. As it turned out they were having an exhibit called America after the Fall: Painting in the 1930s. It was in a special area, but lucky our tickets allowed us a one time entrance into the exhibit. It was interesting and they also had Georgia O’Keeffe’s Cow’s Skull: Red, White, and Blue. It was great to see some of these amazing pieces. We had a great time exploring the Art Institute Chicago and I was awed at all the amazing art collections (not just the impressionist art). The only thing I wasn’t impressed with was how they treated us as they were closing. About 15 minutes before they closed they started shooing us out and even locked the bathrooms. We were told that they would be open on the main floor by the gift shop, but they weren’t. Very frustrating. They were as nice as can be while they were open, but as soon as they were getting ready to close, they were like OUT, OUT, OUT. I left feeling very disappointed and upset. Still it was a great museum and I would love to explore more on a future trip to Chicago. Definitely make sure the Art institute Chicago is on your list. Here is a link to their site for times, prices, etc.
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