Thursday, January 25, 2018

Chicago Art Minute

Half a week has passed since we drove out to Chicago. Our primary reason was Hamilton, which obviously doesn't need the approval of an occasional blogger. If you haven't seen it, you're already sick of the hype. Nevertheless: you'll be blown away and probably bawl.

Otherwise...Quick hits from a long weekend:

1. We were hustling along after a scrumptious dinner at Little Goat, trying to reach a screening of "Three Billboards outside Ebbing Missouri" on time. As usual, the directions were clear until they weren't and Rick was squinting at his apple compass, marching forward, and then halting. We passed the nasty opulence of a Trump property and rounded a corner. And were met by a cluster of "Gentlemen":

Blocky, dynamic. With just enough space between its various forms to invite goofballs like me to squeeze in for photos. But the light was low, and Rick's patience was wearing thin, and we had Frances McDormand to see. More on Taiwanese sculptor Ju Ming and the journey of the Gentlemen to the AMA plaza here.

"An Elegant Woman at the Elysee Montmartre"
2. French painter, Louis Anquetin, in the Toulouse-Lautrec room of the Art Institute of Chicago. Never heard of him and was on the verge of attributing his painting to someone else. Anquetin was dismissed as a "one hit wonder" by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, but Toulouse-Lautrec spoke to his importance among his circle, calling him "the glory of the [Atelier Cormon] studio"... (according to the painting museum label). Aside from befriending Toulouse-Lautrec (and sharing a studio with him), he was also friends with Vincent Van Gogh, and Emile Bernard. Together with Bernard, he developed a painting style termed cloisonnism, which the image is an example of:

"Cloi­son­nism is char­ac­ter­ized in partic­ular by strong contours and surfaces that have been barely elab­o­rated, but also by the bright colors and a bold picto­rial compo­si­tion beyond the rules of central perspec­tive."

Mishmash of other artists? Possibly. Less prominent? Definitely. He later veered away from this painting style in favor of the Rubens school, without gaining much of a following. But what a refreshing, beautiful painting. I love the bold outlines, and the decorative elements in her dress and coat, especially when considering the delicacy with which her face was painted.

3. Wonderful, tiny lives. Rick & I were trading off on daughter wrangling at the Art Institute of Chicago. We try, and mostly fail, to wander as a group, as I want to meander, linger, and share; Rick strives to keep a good, brisk pace; and the daughter wants to to climb every dias, touch all the things, befriend some guards, and kidnap a baby or at least commandeer a new walker into Ring-around-the-Rosie. So this time he mostly took her, after a brief meditation in front of "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of Grande Jatte." I didn't get far before he called me; and I expected bullet points about a meltdown, with a consensus needed about whether to stay or go. "We're downstairs in the miniature rooms, you've got to come down here." The what? I said. At the science museum the day before, there had been another miniature "fairy castle," which had seemed somewhat cool in its ornateness, and inventiveness, but also rather twee -- not that we had a chance to really look, as the girl was momentarily fixated on cows and would not stop. More minis? "I know, I brought her down here because I thought she would like it, but they're just REALLY incredible."

I agreed to come down and wound up spending almost all the rest of my museum time in this section alone. It's not just that each diorama is exquisitely detailed; that every diminutive item carries the proportionate heft of its real world counterpart; that the room reads as authentic to its assigned period and place; or that it all speaks to an exceedingly heavy concentration of both money and fussy, fussy labor. The crowning glory is this: every room leads to hallways, or other barely glimpsed rooms, or a side garden, a night sky, rolling pastures. You are compelled to gaze in, in all directions, to see as much as you can, because there's a new bit of world beyond each room. And the tiny inhabitants may have vacated the viewing space, but there are robust lives being lived, just beyond your vision.

"California Living Room, 1875-79"
French provincial bedroom Louis XV -- love the inset bed
English Cottage Kitchen 1702-14

English Entrance Hall, Georgian, c. 1775

... And now back to our normally scheduled program. May our tiny little lives be light filled and many roomed~~

No comments:

Post a Comment