I’ve decided I am most definitely an urban animal.
After weeks of glorious nature as we travelled west through the most spectacular scenery known to man, I am in Chicago and in love with this big city. I go to a large Metropolis, and I feel like I am home again.
Even though I have not been back in Chicago in decades, I felt comfortable and right at home.
We’ve done all the traditional tourist things, but yesterday I left My Beloved Brit to fend for himself walking along the lakeside marinas and spent literally an entire day at the stellar Art Institute of Chicago.
Not only is it a magnificent setting along the shores of Lake Michigan on the edge of Millennium Park…
surrounded by beautiful gardens, architecture and monumental sculptures…
But inside, it is grand and intimate at the same time.
There are two sections to the museum. I attacked the Modern Wing first and spent most of the morning observing the art, and of course with my interest in my own recent museum series of paintings, also observing the art lovers observing the art.
This Modern Wing is not huge by New York standards, but the contemporary collection is wonderful.
I saw works of Matisse that I was not even familiar with…and some that had been favorites of mine for my entire art-conscious life.
I stood before a David Hockney piece that I always thought was of modest size. It is 83 7/8 x 120 inches and dominates the gallery. The detail that disappears in reproductions was exquisite.
There were so many favorites, from Alex Katz to Cy Twombly to Richter …
I took the time to visit an exhibit of the Lower Level that a friend and Chicago resident mentioned to me as a must see. The Thorne Miniature Rooms by Mrs. James Ward Thorne (of Montgomery Ward fame) were amazing in their scope. There were dozens of them, each done with the most exquisite attention to detail. Such variety of period and social order. They were truly enchanting. You could spend a day just viewing these.
Finally after a short lunch break back on the streets of Chicago with MBB, I re-entered to the older classical wing, and headed for the Impressionist section. I had recently read in the newspaper that they had just finished cleaning this striking canvas.
It was bright and stunning, well worth the six month restoration effort. Turning a corner and going through a few more galleries I was in awe once again.
There were smaller gems I was not even aware of, like a Munch painting that was delicate and ethereal. It almost looked like pastels, but it was done in oils.
That is the beauty of a museum you are not familiar with. Around every corner is a stunning surprise. Hopefully I will be back again to meet up with them as old friends.