Chicago Art Institute – my continued “What is Art” quest

Posted on Posted in Activities/Experiences, Art, Chicago
Seurat - Sunday Afternoon
After the play “Sunday in the Park with George” this painting comes alive with so much more

The age old question of “what is art” continues to challenge me as I travel and am exposed to so many varied types of art.  Everyone has an opinion and I have learned to just like what i like whether or not someone deems it “good” or “bad” art.  Ah, the many discussions (arguments) about art, I’ve had over the years. Now I would take my query to the the Art Institute but first a bit of my history with art.

Degas ballerina
One of Degas’ ballerinas

Philadelphia, many years ago, started First Friday which is when the Old City art galleries stay open late to allow for visits.  For the most part you follow the crowds in and out of the many small galleries and find yourself discussing the shows over drinks in the various bars in the neighborhood.  To give you some insight into my confusion about modern art, it started with the Barbies.  Yes, the dolls of my youth. One show had pieces of Barbie dolls in various states of deconstructions/decapitation hanging on string to depict the objectification of women or some other struggle.  Now to me, it was you stringing parts of Barbie like Christmas popcorn to hang on the tree (you can certainly argue with me on this one but my sister decapitated all of my dolls growing up and she is not a famous artist but now looking back she may have been on the forefront of the modern art movement).  Another display that night (it was a banner night for crazy things for me as i navigated modern art) was a display featuring a water pitcher and a row of glasses, each with a different level of water obtained from the Delaware river – which meant it was filled with debris and a brownish color.  I can’t remember the explanation but I definitely started questioning my Accounting degree based on the sales price of the river water.

When I travel, I try to visit local art galleries, museums, theatres, etc. to see what the pulse of the city is at that point in time.  In New Zealand, i saw a video movie of an ice cream cone melting as well as a large plastic ball that was the size of the room. I’ve seen a white painting on white canvas called “the rose”.  I’ve seen photos of an artist in the 70’s  naked for 90 days in 90 photos.  I’ve seen trash glued to canvas and people standing in doors (ah, performance art).  Fun stuff that continues to make me wonder “what is art”.  I continue to expand my artistic horizons even if it is frustrating and doesn’t quite compute for me.

Type Art Halloween
What’s in a date? Halloween 1978

So visiting Chicago’s famous Art Institute gave me many artistic options to ponder – with the rain outside, i had time to wander and slowly enjoy the galleries.  My mind would enjoy the familiar famous artists and paintings.  I’d find the special exhibit along the steps quite interesting and thought provoking. I’d then get pretty far in the modern art collection until i could take no more (my head tends to spin on various mediums and the forks would do me in) and had to leave.

Art - Stones divided
To me, a pile of stones divided

So enjoy the overview of the Art Institute Chicago below and definitely let me know your thoughts on “what is art” and any reactions to the art below.


Chicago Art Institute
I feel like this many days

Well Known Artists surely they make “art” right?

Chagall Windows
Chagall Windows


Colorful Vase - ceramic art
Colorful Vase – ceramic art
Van Gogh Bedroom in Arles
Van Gogh Bedroom in Arles


Mark Rothko Chicago Art Institute
Mark Rothko Chicago Art Institute

A different spin on the whole “art” concept – is a blurry photo art?  typeset?  Light bright in larger form on the stairs?  Sure, all can be art but why if you or I tried the same thing are we languishing undiscovered?  Instagram has provided a new form of art to be sure as have so many apps in the past many years – so we are all artists and yet I still have a bit of confusion along the way – wait until I get to Tasmania to the MONA – that was modern art that had me screaming on the inside and a bit on the outside too!  So my art quest continues, I may never have the “right” answer but art as beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder.


Light Installation Public Notice 3
Light Installation on the stairs – religious tolerance and persistent paranoia into daily life


Type Art
Tic Tac Toe? Love and Kisses? just X & O?


Woman descending the staircase
A painting depicting the marriage of glamour, photography and women


Public Notice 3 light installation
Light installation on the stairs


Untitled - 175 pounds of candy art
175 pounds of hard candy – take one and it is replaced by curators representing a man  slowly dying of AIDS




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