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Exhibitions

Mirroring China’s Past: Emperors and Their Bronzes

Wang Dongling

Marcel Duchamp. Bottle Rack, 1914/59

Mounira Al Solh: I strongly believe in our right to be frivolous

Philippe Parreno: Two Automatons for One Duet

The Medieval World at Our Fingertips: Manuscript Illuminations from the Collection of Sandra Hindman

Architect of Empires: Highlights from the Library of Pierre Fontaine

Xu Longsen: Light of Heaven

The Arranged Flower: Ikebana and Flora in Japanese Prints

The Wandering Landscape: Chinese Topographical Paintings of the 16th through 19th Century

Shockingly Mad: Henry Fuseli and the Art of Drawing

Dress Codes: Portrait Photographs from the Collection

Rodin: Sculptor and Storyteller

Andrew Lord: Unslumbrous Night

Making Memories: Quilts as Souvenirs

Past Forward: Architecture and Design at the Art Institute

Saints and Heroes: Art of Medieval and Renaissance Europe

The New Contemporary


Events

Mirroring China’s Past: Emperors and Their Bronzes
Through May 13, 2018
Regenstein Hall

Chinese bronzes of the second and first millennia BC are some of the most distinctive achievements in the history of art. Exquisitely ornamented, these vessels were made to carry sacrificial offerings, to use in burial, or to commemorate family in public ceremonies. When they were found by emperors centuries later, these spiritually significant objects were seen as manifestations of a heavenly mandate on a ruler or dynasty and became prized items in imperial collections. This exhibition—the first to explore how these exquisite objects were collected and conceptualized throughout Chinese history—presents a rare opportunity to experience a large number of these works together in the United States.

Unlike Greek and Roman bronze sculptures of human and animal forms, most objects from Bronze Age China (about 2000–221 BC) were vessels for ritual use. Beginning with the Song dynasty (960–1279), emperors unearthed these symbolic works and began collecting them, considering them to be evidence of their own authority and legitimacy as rulers. Several 18th-century portraits of Emperor Quianlong include his bronze collection, demonstrating how ancient bronzes came to play a critical role in imperial ideology and self-fashioning. In addition to impressive collections, the royal fascination with bronzes led to the creation of numerous reproductions and the meticulous cataloguing of palace holdings. These catalogues are works of art themselves, featuring beautiful illustrations and detailed descriptions of each object.

From the 12th century onward, scholars and artists also engaged in collecting and understanding ancient bronzes, especially their inscriptions. Unlike emperors, who commonly employed art to promote and implement political and cultural policies, scholars regarded bronzes as material evidence of their efforts to recover and reconstruct the past, and they occasionally exchanged them as tokens of friendship. Today ancient bronzes still occupy a prominent position in Chinese culture—as historical or nostalgic objects and as signifiers of an important cultural heritage that inspires new generations, as seen in the works of contemporary artists on view in this presentation.

Mirroring China’s Past brings together approximately 180 works from the Art Institute of Chicago’s strong holdings and from the Palace Museum in Beijing, the Shanghai Museum, and important museums and private collections in the United States. By providing viewers with a new understanding of ancient bronzes and their significance through time, the exhibition illuminates China’s fascinating history and its evolving present.
Sponsors

Lead support is generously provided by Debra and Leon Black.

Major support is provided by the Fred Eychaner Fund, The Chauncey and Marion D. McCormick Family Foundation, and The MacLean Foundation.

Additional funding is contributed by Jianming Lv, Terry and William Carey, Honghong Chen, Giuseppe Eskenazi and Daniel Eskenazi, Winnie and Michael Feng, Virginia B. Sonnenschein and the Sonnenschein Exhibition Endowment Fund for Asian and Ancient Art, Robert Tsao and Vivian Chen, and Charles H. Mottier and Philip J. Vidal.

Wang Dongling
Through May 13, 2018
Griffin Court

Wang Dongling (Chinese, born 1945) is a leading artist and calligrapher best known for large abstract works that he calls “calligraphic paintings.” Combining poetry and painting, Dongling creates these works through performances in which he translates the text of ancient Chinese verses into gestural interpretations of traditional characters. Defining his work as “abstract ink art,” he creates spaces for considering the inherent creativity of Chinese writing. By employing techniques of performance and relying on the impact of scale, Dongling brings a new freedom to the rigorous art of calligraphy and offers contemporary homage to an ancient practice.

Five of the artist’s Plexiglas panels come together for this installation at the Art Institute. For the basis of these works, produced during a 2017 performance, Dongling selected well-known poems from the 8th through the 16th centuries. Unmooring the texts from the traditional black-on-white realm of calligraphy, he abstracted them almost beyond comprehension. The characters are rendered in bright acrylic on seven-foot translucent panels and appear to float on the surface, mirroring the poems’ content and shaping a spatial experience that heightens their linguistic and auditory effect.

Dongling is professor of calligraphy and director of the Modern Calligraphy Research Center at the China Academy of Art, Hangzhou. His works are represented in the collections of museums around the world including the British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Art Museum of China, the Palace Museum (Taipei), and the Victoria and Albert Museum as well as the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum; Harvard University Art Museums; the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University; and Yale University Art Gallery.

Marcel Duchamp. Bottle Rack, 1914/59
TBD

Art Institute of Chicago Acquires Exceptional, Radical Duchamp Readymade

Bottle Rack 1914/59, Signed by the Artist in 1960, and Owned by Robert Rauschenberg will Redefine the Storytelling Power of the Museum’s Collection of Modern Art

The Art Institute of Chicago announced a collection-changing acquisition of Marcel Duchamp’s boundary breaking readymade Bottle Rack (1914/59). Signed by Duchamp in 1960 for its owner—a young Robert Rauschenberg—this ever-provocative and still-astonishing work has a deep connection to two significant artists who radically challenged and redefined our notions of “art” and changed the course of art history. Acquired from the internationally respected Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, through Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris, Duchamp’s Bottle Rack will go on view today, February 13, 2018, in the Art Institute’s Gallery 395B, contextualized within the museum’s exceptional galleries of modern art.

Art Institute President and Eloise W. Martin Director James Rondeau shared: “Bottle Rack is among the most pivotal, landmark works in Marcel Duchamp's profoundly influential body of work. Rarely, do we have an opportunity to acquire an object that so succinctly embodies the expansive influence of an artist on future generations, including countless on display in our museum every day. This is a transformational moment for our world-class collection--with pride and gratitude we take another progressive step forward in a shared vision with our audiences, curators, and donors to create incomparable experiences of art and artists in our galleries in Chicago."

Duchamp’s contributions are foundational to the history of modern art, and the history of modern art in Chicago. Taken out of its original context, reimagined, and signed by the artist, the readymade upended tradition and artistic convention—transforming an everyday, ordinary object by virtue of the artist selecting it. In 1914, Duchamp purchased a common, mass-produced bottle rack at the French department store Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville. Duchamp felt free to acquire new versions for exhibitions and display after his sister accidentally discarded the “original.” He selected the Art Institute’s newly acquired version for the 1959 exhibition Art and the Found Object in New York. Robert Rauschenberg acquired Bottle Rack after the touring exhibition and later, in his studio in 1960, asked Duchamp to sign it; he obliged, writing in French, “Impossible de me rappeler la phrase originale M.D./Marcel Duchamp/1960” (Impossible for me to recall the original phrase M.D./Marcel Duchamp/1960).

Art Institute Deputy Director, Chair and Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Ann Goldstein enthusiastically shared: “Duchamp’s readymade revolutionized the way we think about what an artwork is, how it is produced, and the ways in which it is exhibited—over the course of the twentieth century, it opened up new worlds of art. This still radical work of modern art empowers us to expand, extend, and highlight some of the richest and most important stories in the history of art.”

Bottle Rack deepens incredible moments of resonance and brings new storytelling power to the Art Institute’s permanent collection: from Duchamp’s intertwined history with our progressive and visionary embrace of the Armory Show in our galleries in 1913, to Brancusi’s Golden Bird (1919/20), which was included in the artist’s landmark 1927 exhibition at the Arts Club of Chicago that was installed by Duchamp (and which entered the Art Institute’s collection in 1990). In addition Brancusi’s Leda (1923) also entered the Art Institute’s collection through the support of Duchamp as a gift from Katherine S. Dreier’s estate in 1953. Duchamp was a friend and advisor to our museum’s first curator of modern art, Katharine Kuh, and he also played special role in the gift of the prestigious Mary Reynolds Collection of Surrealism in 1951.

Speaking on behalf of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Senior Curator David White said, “I am delighted that this groundbreaking work by Duchamp, which was one of Bob Rauschenberg’s proudest possessions, has been acquired by the Art Institute of Chicago. Duchamp and his work hugely influenced Rauschenberg’s thinking about art and the Bottle Rack will continue to provoke and enrich viewers as it joins the Institute’s extraordinary collection.

The experience of Duchamp’s Bottle Rack at the Art Institute of Chicago will encourage visitors to consider whether any other work of art occupies such an interesting and provocative position within, between, and at the forefront of so many pivotal moments in modern and contemporary art.

Sponsors:
Through prior gifts of Mary and Leigh Block, Mr. and Mrs. Maurice E. Culberg, and Mr. and Mrs. James W. Alsdorf; Charles H. and Mary F. S. Worcester Collection Fund; through prior gift of Mary and Earle Ludgin Collection; Sheila Anne Morgenstern in memory of Dorothy O. Morgenstern and William V. Morgenstern; through prior bequests of Joseph Winterbotham and Mima de Manziarly Porter; Ada Turnbull Hertle and Modern Discretionary funds.

Mounira Al Solh: I strongly believe in our right to be frivolous
February 8, 2018–April 29, 2018
Galleries 182–84\

The ongoing drawing and embroidery series I strongly believe in our right to be frivolous by Mounira Al Solh (born 1978) collects histories and personal experiences that continue to emerge from the humanitarian and political crises in Syria and the Middle East.

Born in Beirut to a Lebanese father and Syrian mother, Al Solh started the series in 2011, shortly after the civil uprising in Syria, and continues to the present-day Syrian civil war. The project documents deeply personal encounters and conversations between the artist and Syrian refugees as well as other people from the Middle East who were forcibly displaced to Lebanon, Europe, the United States, and other parts of the world. The oral histories of displaced individuals to which Al Solh bears witness are as much administrative accounts as personal ones: many of the portraits are drawn on yellow legal paper, a material index of the painstaking bureaucratic processes immigrants go through in order to obtain citizenship.

While the drawings map geographies of departure, arrival, and nonarrival through storytelling, the embroideries serve as testaments to more collective histories. Weaving together the accounts that connect and divide families, friends, and other relations across the spaces and temporalities of migration, these portraits made on fabric culminate in the Sperveri, a so-called bed-tent that memorializes recent events in the Middle East and Europe within a larger history of Islamic culture.

In I strongly believe in our right to be frivolous, memory, conversation, and living monument become a prism through which the artist chronicles how social and political collapse destabilizes our most fundamental understanding of border, place, and nation while at the same time unearthing the lived and legislative dimensions of immigration that deeply affect today’s global political landscape.
Sponsors

Support for this exhibition is provided by the Alfred L. McDougal and Nancy Lauter McDougal Fund for Contemporary Art.

Additional support is contributed by the Evening Associates.

Philippe Parreno: Two Automatons for One Duet ("My Room Is Another Fish Bowl," 1996–2016, and "With a Rhythmic Instinction to Be Able to Travel beyond Existing Forces of Life," 2014)
Through April 15, 2018
Galleries 186 and 188\

Artist Philippe Parreno (french, born 1964) creates spaces that allow us to speculate about alternate worlds and states of being. My Room Is Another Fish Bowl consists of helium-filled fish shapes that have been delicately weighted to float at different heights. Circulating around these floating objects, the visitors have an experience that may be equated or contrasted with that of the fish moving aimlessly within the gallery.

In art and words, Parreno has frequently proposed the exhibition as a film without a camera. Here he casts museumgoers to move in a carefully staged gallery space. And yet the script is loose, and much is left to chance. The fish move with the gallery’s air currents, visitors enter and exit, and natural light from adjacent windows shifts continually according to the weather and time of day. The “film” lasts the length of the exhibition. No two individuals’ experience of the space will be identical, nor will the ever-changing installation configuration repeat itself.

Animism is a recurring theme in Parreno’s work: the possibility that objects might have an inner life, spirit, or agency. Since 1992 the artist has engaged the philosophical category of the quasi-object, which challenges the common belief that the world is divided into a sphere of language and culture, made by humans, and a surrounding environment of indifferent objects. As quasi-objects, the fish transform viewers’ perceptions of space and time. The drifting Mylar forms and the museum visitors act upon and define each other, rendering both groups neither purely social nor wholly natural.

Parreno’s With a Rhythmic Instinction to Be Able to Travel beyond Existing Forces of Life combines drawings with a mathematical model, using modern technology to animate a historical concept. The drawings comprise over 200 unique images of fireflies by the Paris-based artist and filmmaker. The model is the Game of Life, created by British mathematician John Horton Conway in 1970. A so-called zero-player game, the Game of Life has participants create an initial configuration of “live” cells in a grid. They then simply observe how the cells evolve following the rules of the game—for instance, a live cell with fewer than two neighbors dies. Parreno established specific correspondences between his drawings and various algorithms in the game, creating this animation in which fireflies live and die. The result is a study in technology, environment, and systems open to chance.
Sponsors

This exhibition is made possible by the Stuart Family Fund.

The Medieval World at Our Fingertips: Manuscript Illuminations from the Collection of Sandra Hindman
Through May 28, 2018
Galleries 204–204A

This exhibition of nearly 30 manuscript illuminations travels through 400 years of the Middle Ages and across numerous countries in western Europe. Although often tiny in scale, these exquisite fragments from choir books, books of hours, and religious narratives offer a fascinating microcosm of medieval Europe, a world that extended from the sacred context of the great Gothic cathedrals to the cosmopolitan culture of the sunlit Italian courts.

This impressive and wide-ranging collection was assembled over a lifetime by Sandra Hindman. A noted medieval manuscript scholar and the founder of Les Enluminures, Hindman has generously given approximately one third of the exhibition’s illuminations to the Art Institute. The presentation celebrates her recent gift while also documenting her own journey as an innovative and imaginative teacher and student of the medieval book.

A richly illustrated book by Christopher de Hamel accompanies the exhibition. De Hamel, a renowned authority on illuminated manuscripts, uses the Hindman miniatures as a starting point for reflections on the world of the Middle Ages.

Architect of Empires: Highlights from the Library of Pierre Fontaine
January 30, 2018–April 9, 2018
Ryerson and Burnham Libraries (weekdays only)

Acquired by the Art Institute 1927, the Percier and Fontaine Collection spans the career of Pierre-Francois-Le´onard Fontaine and encompasses his own published and unpublished works as well as architectural treatises of his predecessors and several of his successors. An architect, interior designer, and decorative artist, Fontaine and his partner, Charles Percier, are best remembered as the official architects for Napoleon. As such, Percier and Fontaine—usually referred to as a pair—were key proponents of the Empire style in France in the early 19th century.

Percier and Fontaine helped craft the visual imagery and iconography that would define Napoleon’s reign, a project they pursued along with Vivant Denon, the director of the imperial museums, and the painter Jacques-Louis David. The Napoleonic regime had to navigate the thorny task of co-opting the symbols of the revolution while incorporating the traditional trappings of the French monarchy. The Empire style, with its mixture of aesthetic programs and influences, created a complex visual language that was well suited to the propaganda of the Napoleonic Empire. Empire style is ensconced under the larger category of Neoclassicism and can be characterized as an amalgam of Greek models (sometimes called Etruscan), imperial Roman imagery, Gothic elements, forms from the Italian and French Renaissances, and Egyptian motifs, the latter newly popular due to Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign.

Xu Longsen: Light of Heaven
February 1, 2018–June 24, 2018
Galleries 101, 108–9, 130, 132, and 134–35

Born in Shanghai and trained at the Shanghai College of Arts and Crafts, Xu Longsen is regarded as one of the most creative artists of his generation in China. While his work includes oil paintings and sculptures, it is his large-scale landscape paintings—or shanshui—created with traditional tools and materials that have earned him international acclaim.

The Chinese term shanshui is conventionally translated into English as landscape art, but this style of painting depicts not only a natural place but also an inner space where the artist can rest their heart and mind. Its birth can be traced to the 10th through 12th century, but some representational elements, such as mountains and forests, go back as far as the third and fourth centuries BC. The beauty of shanshui is imbued with both a certain mystic quality and regard for the role of the artist in society.

In taking on this age-old style, Xu identifies himself with the grand tradition of Chinese painting and philosophy even as he revolutionizes them. His work is groundbreaking not only in its sheer size—many paintings are over 30 feet tall—but in its unique installation that combines traditional Chinese ink painting with contemporary public spaces. Throughout history, few other Chinese artists have attempted to create and display their works on such a monumental scale. Xu’s depictions of mountains and water as well as humankind’s spiritual home are awe-inspiring.

This installation, Light of Heaven, was created specifically for the Art Institute’s galleries. It consists of a set of pillars painted with layers of ink wash along with a number of landscape paintings—all inspired by the mythological Mount Kunlun, home to many Chinese gods and goddesses.

The Arranged Flower: Ikebana and Flora in Japanese Prints
Through April 8, 2018
Gallery 107

Ikebana (ike means “to arrange” and bana or hana means “flowers”) is one prominent and disciplined manifestation of the focus on nature in Japan. The practice emphasizes the lines formed by the placement of the leaves, branches, and twigs. A successful presentation also conveys a sense of harmony among the plants, the container, and the setting.

The artful display of flowers likely originated with arrangements dedicated to Buddhist deities in temples, where the presentation was meant to express the beauty of paradise. The first formal school of flower arranging developed in the 15th century. At that time, ikebana was practiced by priests, the warrior class, and members of the imperial court according to a strict set of rules. As other classes began to appreciate the art, the tradition expanded to accommodate less rigid styles.

During the Edo period (1615–1868) an intense interest in botany flourished at all levels of society and went hand-in-hand with flower arranging. Seasonal changes were eagerly awaited. Woodblock prints record floral displays in gathering places and homes, often set in the tokonoma alcove that is a prominent architectural feature in many houses. The prints in this exhibition largely date to the Edo period. They show examples of arrangements that are formal and informal, ordinary and fantastic. In addition, several works on display are surimono—privately commissioned prints circulated among members of poetry circles on special occasions—which feature representations of flower arrangements.

The Wandering Landscape: Chinese Topographical Paintings of the 16th through 19th Century
Through April 8, 2018
Gallery 134

From the middle of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) through the Qing dynasty (1644–1911), Chinese artists devoted increasing attention to the geography, geology, and environmental conditions of the scenes they represented. Painters and explorers journeyed to historical sites and sacred mountains, illustrating memorable attractions in a surge of map-like prints, travel guidebooks, and encyclopedia illustrations. Site-specific paintings, known as topographical landscapes, also emerged as valuable documents of how the land and environment were regarded in premodern times. In addition to reflecting social values, these works provide a visual record of ecological changes between that era and our own. For instance, Planting Fungus at the Tiaosou-an Studio emphasizes the farming activity in the fertile Yangtze River basin during the 17th century, in contrast to the modern-day environment, which has been transformed into the industrial city of Shanghai.

Each of these paintings represents a site with specific geographical features, although artists did not hesitate to take liberties with depicting reality. In particular, they tended to exaggerate or even invent desirable features, such as nostalgic architecture or lush valleys, to produce idealized images that incorporated recognizable sites.

Shockingly Mad: Henry Fuseli and the Art of Drawing
Through April 1, 2018
Gallery 124–27

A witness to political revolutions and radical aesthetic shifts, Henry Fuseli (1741–1825) forged a pictorial sensibility of his own, characterized by anatomical, gestural, and psychological extremes. Bizarre, exaggerated, theatrical, and often melodramatic, his drawings embraced obscure literary and historical subjects intended to elicit profound emotional response.

Fuseli was born in Switzerland but traveled to Germany and Italy early in his career, eventually settling in London, where he played a prominent role in the newly established Royal Academy. While he worked in various media, Fuseli excelled at drawing. This medium was central to his practice, evidenced by the extraordinary number of drawings he made—ranging from quick sketches to watercolors that often exceeded the ambitions of his oil paintings.

The Art Institute is home to a remarkably rich collection of Fuseli’s surviving works, including large-scale drawings; smaller, less-finished sketches; and significant paintings and prints. Shockingly Mad: Henry Fuseli and the Art of Drawing considers drawing as an expressive means unto itself, paralleling the broader arc of Fuseli’s career as writer, painter, critic, and teacher. As comparisons to the work of his contemporaries reveal, Fuseli can be said to have forged a radical new drawing style. With roots in Classical antiquity and Renaissance Italy, Fuseli’s passionate, unrestrained approach reflects the revolutionary spirit of his age, which was marked by social and political upheaval. The Art Institute’s holdings are complemented by a number of important local, national, and international loans, and the exhibition itself is accompanied by the adjacent installation Gods and (Super)heroes: Drawing in an Age of Revolution—a selection of drawings by Jacques-Louis David, Théodore Géricault, Francisco Goya, and others that further contextualizes Fuseli as a draftsman.

Dress Codes: Portrait Photographs from the Collection
Through April 22, 2018
Gallery 1

“It is through the cravat that the man reveals and manifests himself,” wrote French author Honoré de Balzac in 1830, recognizing already at this early date the cultural significance of everyday dress. Mere decades later, the modern fashion industry was born, and portrait photography became more accessible. The convergence of these phenomena led elite and aspiring individuals to understand that clothing can shape self-representation in front of the camera—an idea that, consciously or not, has remained central to photographic portraiture ever since.

This focused exhibition, featuring new acquisitions and other works drawn from the Art Institute’s collection, presents five series that exemplify the power of clothing in pictures. In each case the subject’s dress enhances, alters, or complicates the photographer’s point of view. Spanning the 1870s to the present, these groupings suggest portraits as typologies wherein clothing differentiates individuals and indicates their real or desired identities.

The 19th-century periodical Galerie Contemporaine (1876–84) featured studio portraits of notable French cultural figures posed in identical formats. The sitters used the subtle codes of clothing to great effect, projecting their precise social standing and even forms of dissent within the compositionally consistent frame. August Sander likewise intended his seminal project, People of the Twentieth Century, begun in the 1910s, to constitute an archive of German society. However, his subjects—from farm laborers to aristocrats—complicated Sander’s drive to categorize through their individual choice of dress.

Other works in the exhibition exemplify a desire for visibility. The 1984 series Rodeo Drive by American photographer Anthony Hernandez presents candid encounters with shoppers who are dressed to be seen. Zanele Muholi’s portraits of black lesbians in South Africa serve as a form of activism, disrupting the traditions of studio portraits. Finally, more than 100 photo booth snapshots from the 1950s reflect the diversity of small-town society in this country—showing how American culture, like any other, shapes and is shaped by the language of dress.

Rodin: Sculptor and Storyteller
November 3, 2017–March 4, 2018
Gallery 246

The public are weary of statues that say nothing. Well, here is a man coming forward whose statues live and speak, and speak things worth uttering.
—Robert Louis Stevenson, 1886

At the beginning of the 20th century, Auguste Rodin (1840–1917) was the most famous artist in the world. On the centenary of his death, the Art Institute joins museums around the world in celebrating the renowned artist’s life and work. Presenting rarely seen sculptures and drawings from private collections, as well as from the museum’s rich holdings, this exhibition is the first devoted to the sculptor at the Art Institute since 1923. Featuring works with exceptional histories, including sculptures produced as gifts for people close to the artist and drawings once owned by the American photographer Alfred Stieglitz, the exhibition explores Rodin’s incomparable ability to bring bronze and stone to life.

Rodin was a master of visual communication. His powerfully expressive sculpted bodies speak to us directly through cleverly constructed gestures and poses and in the carefully rendered surfaces of his bronzes and marbles. Continually metamorphosing and reincarnating his figures through reassembly, fragmentation, and new contexts of display, he transformed, sometimes significantly, the stories they portrayed. Rodin’s extraordinary ability to use the human body to generate meaning is underlined in the exhibition by such famous works as The Hand of God, Eternal Springtime, The Prodigal Son, and Adam. Viewers also have the rare opportunity to see, side by side, two early marble representations of the biblical Eve: one from the Art Institute and one from a private collection.

In addition to these stellar objects, the exhibition displays photographs, drawings, prints, and sculptures by the artist’s friends and contemporaries, such as Claude Monet and Henri Matisse. Lifelong friends, Rodin and Monet exchanged gifts of art, corresponded regularly, and even held a joint exhibition in 1889 at the Galerie Georges Petit in Paris. Early in his career, Matisse engaged with the work of Rodin, and his Serf is deeply indebted to the older master’s Walking Man. These two exceptional pieces, both from the Art Institute’s collection, are displayed together here for the first time.

Andrew Lord: Unslumbrous Night
Through April 15, 2018
Bluhm Family Terrace

Deeply engaged in art history, Andrew Lord (British, born 1950) uses traditional ceramic forms and techniques that reference 19th- and 20th-century painting and sculpture. “In the 1970s,” Lord recalls, “I looked at paintings in Amsterdam and Paris and discovered Gauguin’s ceramics, which seemed to have meaning in a way I’d not seen before in ceramics.” Like Gauguin, Lord straddles the boundaries of fine art and craft, abandoning the functionality and practicality of his objects in favor of conceptual pursuits. Through serial display and repetitive investigations of form, Lord transforms everyday objects into extraordinary expressions of light and shadow, volume and plasticity, surface and shape.

This fall the Bluhm Family Terrace welcomes a new series of bronze and ceramic sculptures Lord conceived during a recent residency in Paris. Lord was struck by the title of a mural by Paul Baudouin in the Petit Palais, Les heures du jour et de la nuit (The Hours of the Day and of the Night), which described Lord’s own days of artistic searching without a clear destination. While in Paris, he collected images from 19th- and 20th-century painting—especially works by Picasso—that portray time passing and the fragility of the human condition: “To give these images plastic form, I passed them through each step of making that had come before, as if watching film stills through a sleepless night, until I took the most familiar form, the human figure, extracted it from its surrounding, connected it to the night, to time, to my sleeplessness, filtered through everything I made before.”

The result is the Art Institute’s presentation Unslumbrous Night. This new body of work includes an array of 15 figures—such as a juggler, an acrobat, and a recumbent woman—alongside two forms that reference time: a candle and a moon. The poetic installation, which borrows its title from John Keats’s poem “Endymion,” unfolds on the terrace and continues into the museum’s Terzo Piano.
Sponsors

This exhibition is organized by the Art Institute of Chicago with major funding from the Bluhm Family Endowment Fund, which supports exhibitions of modern and contemporary sculpture.

Unslumbrous Night was created with funds from the Prince Prize for Commissioning Original Work, which was awarded to Andrew Lord and the Art Institute of Chicago in 2017.

Making Memories: Quilts as Souvenirs
Through March 18, 2018
Galleries 57–59

The quilts in this exhibition, whether they depict a particular event, remember the lives of individuals, or offer a fantastical escape, all speak to the “souvenir.” They can embody particular memories and serve as reminders of places, people, events, and ideas. These remarkable quilts—mainly from the United States but with examples from England, Ireland, and Mexico—invite the visitor to contemplate things remembered and forgotten, the careful construction of memory, as well as the objects made to keep those memories ever present.

Among the exhibition’s many highlights is a pictorial quilt—The Settling of the West—that Mildred Jacobs Chappell completed in 1932. The orderly, picturesque, and peaceful vision that Chappell constructs offers a tidy narrative of Manifest Destiny and American progress, to the exclusion of the conflict and violence that proved central to westward expansion. This romantic image of a time, place, and series of events is mirrored in the composition’s simplified forms. In the inscription on the reverse, Chappell asserts, “My only regret is that I could not have lived one hundred years earlier to experience those stirring times, instead of only having made this quilt to commemorate them.”

The 27 visually captivating and technically masterful quilts in this exhibition, all from the permanent collection and ranging from 1840 through 2001, tell stories that reward patient looking.

Past Forward: Architecture and Design at the Art Institute
TBD
Gallery 285

This fall the Art Institute opens a new installation devoted to the museum’s seminal collection of architectural drawings and furniture, graphic, and industrial designs of the 20th and 21st centuries. This evolving Modern Wing display is the first of its kind in the United States, highlighting important acquisitions and presenting architecture and design as an integrated, ever-changing, and multilayered experience.

The practitioners represented in the Art Institute’s diverse collection showcase the many voices that have shaped the fields of architecture and design and continue to do so today. From Daniel H. Burnham, Marion Mahony Griffin, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe to Armin Hofmann, Louis Kahn, and Lauretta Vinciarelli as well as contemporary practitioners such as Stan Allen, Irma Boom, Studio Gang, and Yuri Suzuki, works from our past, present, and future are organized chronologically by theme. Sections range from the history of ornament and Pop to contemporary moments in urbanism and speculative design. Delving into the development of the modern city, the effect of technological transformations, the impact of evolving health concerns, and the influence of global dynamics, the history of modern and contemporary architecture and design is presented as a living social and cultural process. A series of new, immersive videos further illuminate key issues and works from Chicago and the Midwest, across the nation, and around the world.

Taking our increasingly complex social, cultural, and political landscape into consideration, this display emphasizes the critical role architecture and design continues to play in identifying urgent issues and generating new thinking and problem solving. Its dynamic narratives highlight the impact of architecture and design thinking and practice on our lives, opening up a space for conversations with the general public, architecture and design enthusiasts, and experts in these fields alike.

Saints and Heroes: Art of Medieval and Renaissance Europe
Ongoing
Galleries 235–239

Step back in time and immerse yourself in the spiritual, domestic, and chivalric worlds of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. This spring, the Art Institute unveils the new Deering Family Galleries of Medieval and Renaissance Art, Arms, and Armor, presenting nearly 700 objects from the museum’s rich holdings of art from 1200 to 1600: monumental altarpieces, exquisite jewelry, and the beloved arms and armor collection.

The sumptuous display begins with a large room featuring architectural sculpture, treasury objects, and early painting that convey the austere sanctity of earlier medieval art. The centerpiece of the gallery is the meticulously conserved Ayala Altarpiece, commissioned in 1396 by the chancellor of Castile for his family’s funerary chapel in northern Spain. Spanning nearly 24 feet across and eight feet high, the painted wood altarpiece has undergone extensive treatment over the last three years and makes its restored debut in brilliant form. Two linked vaulted galleries showcase altarpieces and altarpiece fragments from Italy, Spain, and northern Europe, including the Art Institute favorite Saint George and the Dragon by Bernat Martorell. Each is displayed to suggest its original religious space, highlighting the church as a center of public life.

The spaces that follow are more intimate, focusing on the texture of late Gothic and Renaissance life. One gallery presents luxury goods and the accessories of feasting, while another displays works of art for the bedchambers of Tuscany’s merchant elite. Everyday objects from northern Europe, along with jewelry and items of personal display, complete the domestic picture of the period.

An elegant rotunda introduces the collection of arms and armor with equipment for the bodyguards of four rulers. From here, the space opens to a gallery filled with weaponry and armor dominated by two armored figures on horseback—one dressed for battle, the other for sport—and two armed and costumed figures engaged in foot combat. Finally, a gallery lined with cabinetry features the art of the sword, luxury firearms, and equipment for the hunt extending through the Baroque era.

The new installation expands the display of art of this fascinating period sixfold, premiering several recently conserved works and many significant new acquisitions—an elegant late Gothic breastplate and backplate, a rare 15th-century German portrait, and an outstanding group of 17th- and 18th-century swords. Subtle changes in the architecture of the galleries propel visitors through time and from religious to secular works, while digital labels provide an interactive multimedia experience. At the heart of this display are the gifts of major collectors whose donations serve as the collection’s foundation: the Ayala Altarpiece and Saint George and the Dragon from Charles Deering, Sienese and Florentine gold-ground paintings and early Northern works given by Martin Ryerson, a terracotta altarpiece by Florentine Benedetto Buglioni and a South German carved and painted Saint Catherine from Kate Buckingham, and George F. Harding’s impressive collection of arms and armor. All come together in the new Deering Family Galleries, offering a transporting experience to a time that continues to enchant.
Sponsors

The Deering Family Galleries of Medieval and Renaissance Art, Arms, and Armor are made possible by the extraordinary lead support of The Chauncey and Marion D. McCormick Family Foundation, Laurie V. and James N. Bay, Linda and Vincent Buonanno, The Edwardson Family Foundation, and The Estate of Arthur Maling.

Major support is generously provided by the Deering Foundation and Mr. and Mrs. William C. Vance.

Additional funding has been contributed by Mr. and Mrs. William R. Jentes, Richard Gradkowski, Holly and John W. Madigan, Mae Svoboda Rhodes, Daniel T. Manoogian, and the historic commitments of Marilynn Alsdorf, Kate Sturges Buckingham, and Bea and Herman M. Silverstein.

The New Contemporary
Through December 31, 2018
Galleries 288, 290–299

This December, we reopen our galleries of contemporary art, unveiling the largest gift in the Art Institute’s 136-year history: 44 iconic works by artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Jasper Johns. Generously donated by Chicago collectors Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson, these 44 paintings, sculptures, and photographs transform the museum’s presentation of contemporary art, bringing new depth and perspective to the Art Institute’s already strong holdings and making this collection the strongest of any encyclopedic art museum in the world.

The Art Institute has been committed to collecting and exhibiting contemporary art since the museum’s founding in the 19th century, when Impressionism was considered “contemporary.” Our rich collections today are largely the result of the generosity and vision of private collectors who have chosen to become great benefactors, and the Edlis/Neeson gift is the latest chapter in this long legacy of patronage and support.

Their gift charts the course of the most adventurous art movements since the 1950s, primarily in the United States, beginning with the work of Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Cy Twombly, who began to forge a path out of Abstract Expressionism toward Pop Art with the use of images, materials, and techniques from mass media and found objects. Pop itself is represented in the gift by a landmark group of works by Andy Warhol—including two self-portraits—and signature works by Roy Lichtenstein. The collection also chronicles the significant and enduring influence of Pop Art on later generations of artists, including the virtuouso painter Gerhard Richter, the photography-based critiques of Richard Prince and Cindy Sherman, and the pop-culture riffs of Katharina Fritsch, Jeff Koons, and Takashi Murakami.

The Art Institute is a collection of collections, each compelling on its own terms yet capable of telling richer, more extraordinary stories when brought into dialogue. To be sure, the Art Institute of Chicago—and the stories we tell—have been made far greater by Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson’s gift, an extraordinary benefaction to the city, and, indeed, to the world.

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