Today I’m going to write briefly about the second day of our visit to Chicago. While day one was devoted to seeing the “Femme Divine” exhibit (see my last posting),day two was devoted primarily to visiting the Art Institute of Chicago. I had never been to Chicago before, and I’d had a list of three things that I wanted to do there: go to the Art Institute, see a performance at the Lyric Opera and see a baseball game at Wrigley Field. Well, the only Lyric Opera performance that happened when I was there was the same night as the gallery reception, so obviously I couldn’t go. As the baseball season doesn’t begin until April, I couldn’t see the Cubbies play at Wrigley, either (though I did see the Wrigley Building on Michigan Avenue).
Dave L and I didn’t go to the Institute alone, however, as we were joined by my friend, the photographer Ted Preuss. Ted lives in Chicago and makes beautiful platinum print photographs, in case you’re not familiar with him. (If you are not, then you should be. See some of his work here.) That’s Dave L with the beard in the photo and Ted next to him.
Regarding the Art Institute, the only painting that I could think of that’s in the collection there – and the one art work that I thought of when I thought of that museum – was George Seurat’s pointilist masterpiece, “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte.” That painting was indeed there, and it was a thrill to finally see it. (It’s actually much larger than I had thought it to be.)
Still, a great museum like the Art Institute holds many more masterpieces, and it was great to see those, as well. Some of those were Grant Wood’s “American Gothic,” Edward Hopper’s iconic “Nighthawks” (though without Marilyn and James Dean), Picasso’s Blue Period “Guitarist,” Van Gogh’s “My Bedroom,” and a couple of Surrealist nude paintings by the Belgian artist Paul Delvaux. Additional works that caught my eye were paintings by Rembrandt, Diego Rivera, Franz Marc, Max Beckmann and Henri Matisse, plus some by artists I was unfamiliar with. A welcome surprise was one of my favorite Italian paintings, “The Lute Player” by Orazio Gentileschi, that was on display in a special exhibition.
Grant Wood – “American Gothic”
Gentileschi’s “Lute Player” (detail)
“Nighthawks” by Edward Hopper
Without question, however, the one art work I was most happy to see for the first time was Marc Chagall’s “White Crucifixion,” showing a crucified Jesus but depicting him as the Jew that he was. What’s remarkable about this painting – and what I had never noticed before in book reproductions – are all of the small scenes that Chagall painted around the central figure. Wonderful scenes, though many of them are tragic in nature. As I was there in front of it, and as photos were allowed without flash, I made over twenty photos – mostly details – of this great work.
After we left the museum, Dave, Ted and I walked up Michigan Avenue, paying visits to the silvery, curvy, high reflective “Bean” sculpture (see photo at top) and the giant sculpture of “American Gothic,” the latter across the street from the aforementioned Wrigley Building.
Then, Ted took us to his home and his new studio, where he showed us examples of his marvelous platinum prints. For dinner that night, Dave and I walked a few blocks from our hotel to The Green Door Tavern, a former speakeasy, housed in one of the few wooden commercial buildings built following the great Chicago fire of 1871. (Such new buildings were outlawed shortly after it was built.)
The next day, Monday, Dave and I rode back to his home here in Ohio, much of it through falling snow. We saw plenty of vehicles ditched on the side of the rode, including one very large truck that had flipped over onto its side. Since then, I’ve been photographing models in Dave’s new studio, among other things. I’ll write more about that next time.
Before that, Dave and I will be riding up on Saturday to Detroit to attend a reception at the River’s Edge Gallery for a show that includes some of Dave’s photos. If you’re in the Detroit area, please come on down to see us. You can read more about the event here.