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The Art Institute's Impressionism Collection Returns

From Abraham Ritchie, the Chicago City Editor:

Renovations have been taking place all over the Art Institute of Chicago anticipating May 16th, 2009, the opening date of the Modern Wing.  The most recent improvements were made to the galleries housing the Impressionist pictures which had travelled to the Kimbell Museum in Fort Worth, TX, while the renovations were going on.  The artwork has now returned, and today the Impressionist galleries reopen, complementing the Asian, Himalayan and Islamic galleries immediately below and also newly renovated and recently reopened.

Having seen the installation, I can say that visitors will be pleased with the new galleries.  There is an entire room devoted to Monet, the Haystacks and Waterlilies series among others.  Cézanne and Gauguin also receive much larger spaces.  While some galleries are solely for paintings, others are now integrated with artwork (that is furniture, dinnerware, etc.) from the European Decorative Arts Department.  There's some excellent Art Nouveau furniture on display now, complementing the artwork from the same time period.

There are some recently aquired objects on display too.  Le Grenouillard (Frog-Man) by Jean Carriès is one such recent aquisition and is a dead ringer for J.R.R. Tolkien's Gollum.  I'd be interested to learn where the sculpture was before Chicago.

The new installation should please everyone, especially the tourists that were disappointed the last three or more months while the Impressionist pictures resided in Texas.

From the Art Institute of Chicago, the Press Release:

Overview: After a nearly six-month absence, works from the museum’s Impressionist and Post-Impressionist collection return this December from a historic, one-time-only loan to the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. Ninety-two works, which were celebrated in the exhibition The Impressionists: Master Paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago, traveled to Texas while the galleries of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism were renovated. The works return to a new space that transforms the way visitors experience this remarkable collection.

Two Sisters
Pierre Auguste Renoir. Two Sisters (On the Terrace), 1881. Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Larned Coburn Memorial Collection.

In the new installation, visitors are once again greeted at the top of the Grand Staircase by Gustave Caillebotte’s Paris Street, Rainy Day and other iconic paintings from the height of the Impressionist period in the 1870s. However, works that once were located in galleries south of this central space now stretch east though upper Gunsaulus Hall, completing the Allerton Building’s chronological circuit of European painting from the 15th through the 19th century. Two additional galleries and nearly 5,000 square feet of extra space house not only the paintings and sculpture that had been on loan but also works from the collection of European decorative arts and recently acquired objects that have never before been displayed.

Especially notable among the new objects are several three-dimensional works, including Le Grenouillard (Frog-Man), a patinated plaster by symbolist artist Jean Carriès, and Earthly Paradise, a buffet-cabinet carved and painted by Paul Gauguin and Emile Bernard in 1888. Several of the museum’s best-known paintings by Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, and Pierre Auguste Renoir have also been reframed, transforming their appearance. The new suite of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist galleries are completed by a selection of Wiener Werkstätte decorative arts and paintings by Swiss artist Ferdinand Hodler from around 1900, ideal stepping-stones to the collections of the Modern Wing.

Rearranged to more clearly and completely tell the story of Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, and its contemporary movement, Symbolism, these new galleries offer a richer presentation of this pivotal art movement of the late 19th century. Join us this holiday season as we welcome these works to their new home on December 19.


Posted by Abraham Ritchie on 12/19/08 | tags: landscape realism traditional sculpture

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