Saturday, February 19, 2011

Some Favorite Paintings at the Art Institute

If any of you make it to Chicago, we would be proud to have you as our guest to the Art Institute.  As a follow-up to yesterday's photo album of a Chicago Sunday afternoon, here's a look at a few paintings in the Art Institute's collection that captured my imagination, and inspired me to better creative effort.

There is one gallery on the top (third) floor, "European Modern Art, 1900-1950".  These include some of the Impressionists, the Cubists, and Surrealists, artists like Picasso, Dali, Magritte, and others less familiar to me.  I can't wait to keep on as a student of this period, the paintings of which I love on a basic level, which give me a feeling of pleasure and balance.  

As with any form of art, knowing more about it, its construction, its intent, its place in history, can explain why I feel so happy in the company of these artists in this magical and remote gallery of the Art Institute.

FRANZ MARC, "The Bewitched Mill", 1913

A quote next to the painting reads: "Is there a more mysterious idea than to imagine how nature is reflected in the eyes of animals?" Is there a more perfect reason for me to connect with this work?  Notice the deer drinking and a variety of birds. 

GEORGES BRAQUES, "The Little Harbor in Normandy," 1909

I am less familiar with Braque than with Picasso, even though they worked closely together and together established the Cubist style.  I like his work, and this one is especially interesting to me.

PABLO PICASSO, "The Old Guitarist", 1903-04

The Art Institute has a huge collection of Picasso, including a miniature rendering of his famous sculpture in Daley Plaza.  This is a wonderful portrait of a homeless man from Picasso's "blue period".

SALVADOR DALI, "Inventions of the Monsters", 1937

Dali fascinates me with his extremely clear images, that sometimes appear to be melting or bending. His subjects often are brightly lit with long shadows that emphasize their desolated isolation. An unnatural combination of objects and parts of the human anatomy are startling. The pictures always seem to be on the verge of burning. Here is Dali's mysterious interpretation of impending war: the artist and his wife are seated at the table on the left.

RENE MAGRITTE, "Time Transfixed", 1938

This is the painting that inspired me to visit the wonderful third floor gallery. I enjoy the clarity of images that are placed together incongruously, violating the rules of space.  Magritte wanted to "stab" the viewer with the train. 

JOAN MIRO, "Personages With Star", 1933

One of a large collection of Miro, who I find a child's rendering of Dali.

In later journal entries, I will also offer some favorites by Paul Klee, Juan Gris, and many others...  While my quest for reinvention may not include taking up the brush myself, you never know how enthusiasm, borne of a love of any art form, may manifest itself! For now, I will try to paint with words, and learn enough to teach others some day, perhaps.


  1. You've got to stop inviting us to Chicago. It all looks so good I'm getting hopelessly jealous of living near such a fascinating city.

  2. Oh my gosh! I LOVE the Art Institute! It's only my FAVORITE art museum! I've got to say, though I love the Magritte, my favorite has always been Paris Street, Rainy Day (Caillebotte). Thoughts? :)

  3. Ben, I want you to visit me...honest! I should be kicking around here for a please, if you ever make the trip, let me know!

    Luke, maybe we'll see you at the Art Institute some day! I couldn't POSSIBLY include everything I love about the Art Institute in one post...
    Your mention of "Paris Street Rainy Day" is such a coincidence...I purchased a miniature of this for my parents, which is hanging on the wall in their den. Here's a link which describes the painting on the Art Institute Web Site:

  4. That burning giraffe in the Dali is frightening. That's one that'll haunt me... I'm unfamiliar with Marc and Braques -- and with Cubism -- but I like the fluidity of the style. Everything is of apiece, it seems...Never seen anything like it.

  5. your flight to Chicago and you'll see some great art!