Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: as part of my 47th birthday celebration, my wife Anne and I drove from Indianapolis up to the Art Institute of Chicago and spent four hours with our eyes wide, jaws dropped, intellects engaged, and cameras and phones at the ready. We barely saw half the museum and will have to return someday for more.
After our lunchtime intermission we returned to the museum through the west entrance to its “classic” half. the side with the two famous lion sculptures out front. Up the stairs and filling the long expanse bridging the train tracks is a wide selection of 19th-century Europeans, beginning with the Impressionists. Regressing a century prior to where we’d left off, once again we found ourselves within the realm of the moderately representational — figures, landscapes, and other nouns hewing somewhat to their intended shapes, but with colors and lightings bearing a more supernormal appearance. Definitely not pretend-photography like the “classic” era that preceded them.
The Art Institute has by far the largest Monet collection we’ve witnessed to date, alongside other peers from the Impressionist movement. Full confession: I gravitate toward works of stark contrast, and too many Monets in a row produced the opposite effect and began to look alike. Please enjoy this selection of what stood out to us before I began to walk a bit more briskly toward the Post-Impressionists…
The museum’s selection of Impressionists had a bit more than Monet. Runner-up from our perspective seemed to be Pierre-Auguste Renoir, another of those renowned painters best known to today’s audiences as a frequent Jeopardy! answer. The next four slides are all his.
(Fun trivia: further down Renoir’s family tree is his grandson Jean Renoir, groundbreaking film director whose The Rules of the Game is among the best Criterion Collection releases I’ve amassed to date. Highly recommended, especially to anyone interested in historical perspectives on class warfare.)
More to come! Other chapters in this very special MCC maxiseries:
Gallery 1: The Grounds Alone
Gallery 2: The Old Modern Americans
Gallery 3: Georgia on Her Mind
Gallery 4: Two Americans Abroad
Gallery 5: Ye Olde Tyme America
Gallery 6: Very Contemporary
Gallery 8: Posting Post-Impressionist Impressions
Gallery 9: Picasso and the Surreal
Gallery 10: The Last of the Famous International
Gallery 11: Caveat Sculptor
Gallery 12: An Omnibus of Outtakes