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Listening to Music in the Modern Wing

POSTED BY , ON October 09, 2012, Comments Off

Although it’s located in the Modern Wing’s photography galleries, Allen Ruppersberg; No Time Left to Start Again/The B and D of R ‘n’ R (which stands for the Birth and Death of Rock and Roll) is far from a straight photography show. Over the last 20 years, Ruppersberg has been collecting musical and cultural ephemera to present what he refers to as “a sort of giant, deluxe walk-in boxed set of one possible history of Rock and Roll.”

The exhibition includes 200 feet of pegboard covered with hundreds of photocopied snapshots, record covers, obituaries, and other materials personally collected by Ruppersberg from flea markets and second hand stores. They are separated into five different themes that speak to the progression of music in 20th century America. And because an exhibition about music isn’t really complete without, well, music, the presentation also includes albums that Ruppersberg designed and produced. Visitors can listen to the more than 125 remastered and re-recorded songs as they’re walking through the space, but can also use an iPad to scroll through to their favorites. And to further facilitate an understanding of this archive, a couch and two reading stations hold binders with many of the articles for individual perusal.

Ruppersberg is no stranger to ambitious projects. During his recent artist talk at the museum, he spoke about a project from the early 1970s called Al’s Grand Hotel. In one of the ultimate convergences of art and life, Ruppersberg opened a functioning hotel along Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood for six weeks. He invited paying guests, but also thought of it as a meeting place where anyone could come over to hang out, listen to a concert, or purchase the hotel’s furniture. And while the installation at the Art Institute isn’t for sale, I think the same edict holds true: stop by, hang out, and listen to some music.

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Happy Birthday, Modern Wing!

POSTED BY , ON May 16, 2012, 1 COMMENTS

It’s hard to believe that it’s been three whole years since we first opened the doors to the Modern Wing. And quite a bit has happened/changed since that fateful day. . .

- We’ve welcomed more than 4.7 million visitors to the museum.

- We’ve opened 45 exhibitions just in that wing, including our inaugural exhibition Cy Twombly: The Natural World, Selected Works 2000–2007, which drew 442,436 visitors.

- And one of our esteemed ribbon cutters has gone from White House Chief of Staff to our fair city’s mayor!

How times have changed! Any thoughts on what might happen pre-May 16, 2015?

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Midday Music

POSTED BY , ON December 15, 2011, 1 COMMENTS

My favorite part of the museum’s ongoing celebration of the holidays is our Midday Music series. Every single day from Thanksgiving through the end of the year, musicians invade the museum and melodies (holiday or otherwise) drift through the galleries. Last week, choirs from area high schools and colleges took up residency on the Grand Staircase and enchanted visitors, volunteers, and blog authors alike. This week features harpist Kara Bershad in Griffin Court every day at 11 a.m. Next week brings Jeff Kust on guitar and the week between Christmas and New Year’s will feature (my and Erin H.’s favorite) Yang Wei on pipa. Yang Wei has been performing on this traditional Chinese, four-stringed instrument in the museum for a number of years (including at the opening of the Modern Wing!) and never fails to delight the crowd with its unique sound. Trust me, it all makes for quite a lunch break.

Restless Rainbow

POSTED BY , ON May 12, 2011, 5 COMMENTS

If you’ve noticed some rather psychedelic changes on the Bluhm Family Terrace of the Modern Wing, don’t worry, you’re not hallucinating. It’s a new installation by SoCal contemporary artist Pae White. For the very first time, White is transforming the terrace from a location for art to an art installation in and of itself.

The piece, called Restless Rainbow, references White’s interest in textiles, graphic design, and animation and effectively answers the question, “What would it look like if a rainbow fell from the sky?” The resulting vibrant, geometric pattern will completely cover the space, as if a rainbow collapsed on to the terrace. Above you can see a shot mid-installation, as the art installers adhere and smooth out the complicated graphics. The vinyl wrap will eventually cover all the visible glass walls with a spectrum of bright colors. Instead of using the space as a site for looking out at the city skyline, White invites visitors to immerse themselves in the polychromatic pattern of a fallen rainbow.

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Recent Installation

POSTED BY , ON May 04, 2011, Comments Off

The newly installed Vater Staat by German artist Thomas Schuttë cuts an imposing figure in the Modern Wing’s Griffin Court. Over 12 feet tall and made of bronze, the monumental sculpture dominates the space around it. The title, which translates to “Father State,” references Schuttë’s ongoing interest in the effect of totalitarian regimes on the human condition. Also, like many artists raised in post-war Germany, he is also responding to his native country’s history and politics, as well as the difficulty in creating public memorials. However, although the stoic figure overwhelms visitors walking by, the binding around his body renders him powerless.

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