Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Art Institute of Chicago: Lessons Learned

This Memorial weekend saw a flurry of activity from the family as we visited old friends, got a personal tour of an archaeological site, went to two museums and a beach.  We don't do relaxing vactions!  One of the museums was the Art Institute of Chicago, where I had been once before, nearly ten years ago.  This experience was very different from the first, and I learned a few important lessons.

First, art museums have little appeal to an eight year old boy, who would really rather see mummies and mastadons and a T-rex named Sue (we went to the Field Museum the next day).  Second, paintings tend to be a lot bigger then what you expect.  You can read in a book that Sky Above the Clouds VI by Georgia O'Keeffe is 96 in by 288 in, but it doesn't quite register how large that is until you see it hanging on a wall.

Third, non-representational modern art has little appeal to the non-artist.  And I'll admit, I don't always get it either, but I try.  I heard a lot of mutters through the galleries along the lines of, "What is that supposed to be?  How is this art?"  Some of this is the fault of the general public which likes to be spoon fed everything and some of this is the fault of the art community which likes to deliberately obfuscate, at least at this level.  When the two are able to meet as at the Cloud Gate, called "the Bean" by locals, it is art at its best.

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