Art Institute of Chicago

Little known fact, but one of my ideas of a perfect day is spending it wandering around an art museum. I can spend hours on end in a museum without getting bored (my current records are 7 hours at the Prado in Madrid and all day-ish at the National Gallery in London. I might have a problem). Seeing art, in person, is fascinating for me. Oddly, though, I’ve never enjoyed being taught about art. I can remember taking an Art History class in Florence and being flat-out bored. In Florence! The birthplace of the Renaissance!

The problem, of course, was that I didn’t want to listen to someone talk about it. I didn’t want to learn about why the art was important. I wanted to see it for myself, to figure out why it was important on my own, to draw my own conclusions. Sometimes I’ll see a “famous” painting in person and totally understand why it’s famous. Other times, the famous ones baffle me, and I’ll end up fascinated by some obscure 17th-century piece by a Flemish artist. That’s the cool thing about, art, I think – at the end of the day, it’s subjective. It’s what you make of it.

Art is a very internalized experience for me. Both the aforementioned ventures in Madrid and London were made solo. One, I wouldn’t want to subject friends and family to hours at a museum since I’m betting most wouldn’t enjoy it. And two, I get more out of it on my own. Thinking about what I’m seeing in peace. Taking time to internalize everything. It’s very zen for me.

And that’s just what I did at the Art Institute of Chicago last weekend. Just me, my camera, and some beautiful art. It is a lovely collection. Here are a few of the pieces that caught my eye.

I had two favorites. First, “Two Sisters” by Renoir – I love the colors in this one:

My other favorite was “Parliament” by Monet. So dreamy:

“Allegory of Peace and War” by Pompeo Batoni:

“Portrait of a Man” by Jean-Honore Fragonard:

“Panthea, Cyrus, and Araspas” by Laurent de la Hyre:

“Mrs. Jens Wolff” by Sir Thomas Lawrence:

“The Song of the Lark” by Jules-Adolphe Breton:

(What I love about the above painting is how muted the colors are, and then all the sudden, there’s this vibrant sun peeking out).

“Bullfight” by Edouard Manet:

“Ballet Dancer on Stage” by Edgar Degas:

“Acrobats at the Cirque Fernando” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir:

“At the Moulin Rouge” by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec:

(Note: I think Toulouse-Lautrec’s artwork is very cool, but I can never look at it without thinking about John Leguizamo. Does this happen to anyone else?)

“The Drinkers” by Vincent van Gogh:

“Water Lily Pond” by Claude Monet:

Another “Water Lily Pond” by Claude Monet:

“Woman Bathing Her Feet in a Brook” by Camille Pissarro:

“The Vase of Tulips” by Paul Cezanne:

“American Gothic” by Grant Wood:

P.S. If you saw the title of this post and thought of this first, then you’re pretty cool in my book. Sadly, when I was at the museum, there were no schoolchildren to join hands with, form a giant line, and wander around like in the movie.

The Details: The Art Institute of Chicago | 111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60603 | 312.443.3600

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