POSTED BY Katie R., ON May 27, 2011, Comments Off
While the whole city of Chicago mourns the Bulls’ loss last night to the Miami Heat in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals, I have to admit I’m particularly disappointed. Because over the last few weeks, we’ve worked with Chicago Scenic Studios and the Bulls to create jerseys for the lions in the event that the home team made it to the NBA finals. This would have made it the third time in a year that we’ve dressed up the lions that flank the Art Institute’s entrance on Michigan Avenue in celebration of the city’s sports teams.
In preparation for fabricating the jerseys, Chicago Scenic made two visits to the lions with a seamstress and a pattern maker to determine measurements and “fit” the lions. While the seamstress told me that the lions weren’t the most difficult animals she’s worked with (that would be a dinosaur), fitting them for their jerseys was a complicated process. Though the lions look identical, they have different stances, expressions, and measurements. The images above are from their second fitting with muslin jerseys.
The good news is that in the event the Bulls make it all the way next year, we’re prepared!
POSTED BY Guest Blogger, ON April 28, 2011, Comments Off
William and Kate have nothing on the preparations for the wedding of the Grand Duke Ferdinando de Medici and the Princess Christine of Lorraine. In 1589, their Florentine wedding lasted almost the entire month of May and included many newly commissioned pieces of music, theater, and even an indoor mock sea battle pitting the (inevitably victorious) Christians against the Turks. One of their possible party favors will be on view Saturday in the Art Institute’s Altered and Adorned: Using Renaissance Prints in Daily Life. This engraving of a feathered headdress by Agostino Carracci was intended to be cut out, pasted onto a support, and worn! If party-goers were not in the mood to model the virginal goddess Diana cartouche and the peeping-tom satyr below, they could swap them out for the sadder but wiser Minerva, with a dancing nymph trio and other scenes.
Cut and paste millinery has never been this much fun!
—Suzanne Karr Schmidt, Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow, Prints and Drawings
Agostino Carracci. Headpiece in the Form of a Fan, c. 1589. Engraving on ivory laid paper, meant to be cut out and worn, with interchangeable oval vignettes. Joseph Brooks Fair Collection, 1942.250.
POSTED BY Katie R., ON April 22, 2011, Comments Off
The adorable bunny above was not created in honor of Easter, but rather in celebration of the Chinese Year of the Rabbit. The rising sun is one of the most common symbols of the New Year and the artist, Yabu Chosui, interpreted the luminous sun as an exceptionally over-sized rabbit.
While it is not currently on view, a quick trip through the galleries found at least 11 bunnies in artwork up at the museum. I was surprised to find so many, but after all, they are known as being rather prolific at procreation. How many can you find? Where are they? Did we miss a few?
Yabu Chosui. Portrait of a Rabbit, 1867. Charles H. Mitchell Collection.
Maybe it’s because I frequently listen to music in museums. Or maybe it’s the proliferation of audio guides. Or maybe it’s just that I’m nosy. But I always wonder . . . As people meander through the Art Institute, what exactly are they listening to? So I decided to take a walk through the museum, rudely interrupt our visitors, and find out what they were hearing on their tiny earbuds.
I stopped Kendall as she was checking out Matthew Barney in the Modern Wing. She was in town from Austin and told me that she was listening to Coldplay, but that she had set her music player to shuffle.
I interrupted Mike when he was looking at Picasso and listening to his own music, which he described as a mix between hip hop and electronica. Buy Mike’s album!
Anthony was sketching The Sun Vow for a class at the American Academy of Art and was listening to the Adele vs. Gnarls Barkley mashup of “Crazy in the Deep.”
Interestingly enough, every person I stopped was embarrassed (completely without reason) to tell me what they were listening to. So in complete fairness, I only thought it appropriate to divulge what some of my fellow bloggers listen to when they’re strolling through museums: Erin H. is currently partial to The xx, Robby S. rocks out to N’goni music from Mali (show off!) and Mort Garson’s music for plants, and I’m a fan of both Philip Glass and Kanye West.
So there you have it. What’s on your museum playlist?
POSTED BY Katie R., ON March 17, 2011, Comments Off
Yes, it’s Saint Patrick’s day, and here at the Art Institute, we could certainly blog about green–green paintings, “green” buildings, green gardens. We also have quite a few works in our collection referring to the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day specifically in Chicago. However, we don’t have any representations of the saint himself. But if you were to see images of St. Patrick, you’d probably be able to easily identify him because of the inclusion of shamrocks and the color green, both of which we immediately associate with St. Patrick’s Day. St. Patrick is just like any other saint in that he is usually represented by certain attributes or iconographic references that have, for centuries, helped viewers identify particular saints. So, in honor or St. Patrick, we took a stroll through the galleries of European paintings at the Art Institute to find some of St. Patrick’s brethren.
Saint George is commonly portrayed just as he is in this painting—ready to slay the dragon and save the princess from certain death. Although Saint George was indeed in the military, it’s readily accepted that the tale of his heroic dragon-slaying is a legend. The dragon-slaying is instead meant to illustrate the triumph of good over evil. This panel was created for an altarpiece for a chapel in northeastern Spain devoted to St. George. It was created over a thousand years after St. George lived, yet shows him in contemporaneous attire.
Saint Jerome is often shown with books, skulls, and a lion, as he is here. Jerome is recognized as one of the most ascetic of the Catholic saints, who reluctantly returned from his monastic life in the desert to fulfill his duties to the Church. The Art Institute’s version of Saint Jerome depicts him “in the wilderness,” half clad with untamed hair to evoke his tenure living apart from secular society. A lion placidly rests at his feet, a reference to the tale of his removal of a thorn from a lion’s paw. And he is surrounded by books, his most recognizable attribute and the tools of the trade appropriate to the scholar, translator, and writer that he was.
Poussin gives us a more cultivated view of the “wilderness” by representing Saint John in his retirement, on the Greek island of Patmos. John, like Jerome, was an author, and he penned the Gospel that bears his name as well as the Book of Revelation, though there is some scholarly dispute about the latter claim. Also like Jerome, John is often portrayed with books or parchments, as he is here. John’s attribute is the eagle, which viewers can see not soaring in the sky but sitting alertly next to the saint, looking decidedly away from the saint.
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day from the city that dyes its river green!
Bernat Martorell, Saint George Killing the Dragon (1434/35). Gift of Mrs. Richard E. Danielson and Mrs. Chauncey B. McCormick.
Workshop of Veronese (Paolo Caliari), Saint Jerome in the Wilderness (1585/90). Charles H. and Mary F. S. Worcester Collection.
Nicolas Poussin, Landscape with Saint John on Patmos (1640). A. A. Munger Collection.