Books from the world’s most prestigious Museums and Art Galleries (Part Three: Art Institute of Chicago)

Yale University Press distribute books on behalf of some of the world’s most revered museums and art galleries. In the third part in our series on Yale’s museum partners, we will be paying a visit to the Art Institute of Chicago, famous for its prestigious collection of fine art, and in particular its notable collection of works from Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists.  

Chicago’s Grant Park received international attention when it became the setting of President Barack Obama’s victory speech after he won the US general election in November 2008. However for those in the art world, the park is also famous for something else: it is the location of The Art Institute of Chicago, one of the world’s most famous and respected art museums. Its impressive collection includes significant works of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, American, European, Asian, decorative, modern and contemporary art. At one million square feet, it is the second largest art museum in the United States behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

History: The Art Institute of Chicago began life as the Chicago Academy of Design, a free school with its own art gallery. When the Great Chicago Fire destroyed the building in 1871 the Academy was thrown into debt. Members tried to rescue the ailing institution but eventually in 1879 this was abandoned to found a new organization, named the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. In 1882, the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts changed its name to the Art Institute of Chicago. In the same year they purchased property on the corner of Michigan Avenue and began constructing a new building to house the school’s facilities. With the announcement of the World’s Columbian Exposition to be held in 1892–93, the Art Institute pressed for a building on the lakefront to be constructed for the fair, but to be used by the Institute afterwards. The city agreed, and the building was completed in time for the second year of the fair. On October 31, 1893, the Institute moved into the new building. In the early 1980s a major expansion of the museum’s collection was conducted, which included a major renovation and expansion of its facilities, creating major exhibitions of works by Paul GauguinClaude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh.

The Modern Wing: In 2006, the Art Institute began construction of The Modern Wing. The project, designed by the architect Renzo Piano, was completed and officially opened to the public on 16 May 2009. The building houses the museum’s collections of 20th and 21st-century art, specifically modern European painting and sculpture, contemporary art, architecture and design and photography. The Modern Wing: Renzo Piano and the Art Institute of Chicago (available from Yale) goes into more detail about the creation of this iconic wing of the museum.

Paintings to See: The museum is most famous for its collections of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and American paintings so newcomers should probably start there. Included in the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist collection are paintings by Monet (including six of his Haystacks and a number of Water Lilies), Renoir (Two Sisters On the Terrace), Matisse (The Bathers), Cézanne (The Basket of Apples and Madame Cézanne in a Yellow Chair) and Van Gogh (Bedroom in Arles and Self-portrait, 1887). Among the most important works of the American collection are Grant Wood’s American Gothic, Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks and Mary Cassatt’s The Child’s Bath. In addition to paintings, the Art Institute offers a number of other works, including American, European and Asian architectural and furniture styles from the Middle Ages to the 1930s. The American Decorative Arts galleries contain furniture pieces designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and Charles and Ray Eames.

Did You Know? A special feature of the museum is the Touch Gallery which is specially designed for the visually impaired. It features several works which museum guests are encouraged to experience though the sense of touch as well as specially designed description plates written in braille.

Current Exhibitions: Altered and Adorned: Using Renaissance Prints in Daily Life (until 10 July), Kings, Queens, and Courtiers: Art in Early Renaissance France (until 30 May), Hyperlinks: Architecture and Design (until 20 July) and Jitish Kallat: Public Notice 3 (until 12 September).

Art Institute of Chicago books available from Yale

Altered and Adorned: Using Renaissance Prints in Daily Life
by Suzanne Karr Schmidt

Altered and Adorned

Today Renaissance-era prints are typically preserved behind glass or in solander boxes in museums, but these decorative objects were once a central part of everyday life. Altered and Adorned is a delightful, surprising look at how prints were used to create sewing patterns, affixed on walls, glued into albums and books, and in some instances even annotated, handcoloured, or cut apart. This handsome volume introduces readers to the experimental world of printmaking in the mid-15th and 16th centuries and the array of objects it inspired, from illustrated books and sculptures to etched armour and printed sundials. It features many never-before-published treasures from the Art Institute of Chicago’s rich permanent collection, along with essays on such topics as three-dimensional scientific prints and how famous paintings were reproduced on functional objects such as playing cards. More

Kings, Queens, and Courtiers: Art in Early Renaissance France
Edited by Martha Wolff

Kings, Queens and CourtiersThis sumptuous catalogue provides an overview of French art circa 1500, a dynamic, transitional period when the country, resurgent after the dislocations of the Hundred Years’ War, invaded Italy and all media flourished. What followed was the emergence of a unique art: the fusion of the Italian Renaissance with northern European Gothic styles. Outstanding examples of exquisite and revolutionary works are featured, including paintings, sculptures, illuminated manuscripts, stained glass, tapestries, and metalwork. Exciting new research brings to life court artists Jean Fouquet, Jean Bourdichon, Michel Colombe, Jean Poyer, and Jean Hey (The Master of Moulins), all of whose creations were used by kings and queens to assert power and prestige. Also detailed are the organization of workshops and the development of the influential art market in Paris and the Loire Valley. More

by Joseph Rosa, Zoe Ryan

HyperlinksModern architecture and design were long viewed as separate disciplines, until practitioners in the mid-20th century began crossing boundaries and rethinking form and function. This fluid exchange of ideas has led to innovative solutions addressing issues at the heart of contemporary life, ones that affect the environment, sustainability, technology, politics, personal well-being, and health and safety. This handsome catalogue highlights important recent developments that have resulted from the intersection of architecture and design. The projects examined in this book have been produced by an international array of individuals and studios including Jurgen Mayer H., Greg Lynn, Simon Heijdens, M/M (Paris), and Matali Crasset. Whether tackling new solutions to traditional spatial practices, suggesting inventive responses to current environmental concerns, or dealing with issues that address the collective well-being of society, the practitioners who are included in this volume are at the forefront of a cutting-edge field. More

Public Notice 3: Jitish Kallat at the Art Institute of Chicago
Edited by Madhuvanti Ghose

Public Notice 3The Swami Vivekananda’s speech to the World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893 is the centrepiece of Indian artist Jitish Kallat’s new work, Public Notice 3. The installation went on view at the Art Institute of Chicago on September 11, 2010, exactly 108 years after Vivekananda delivered his groundbreaking address calling for an end to ‘bigotry and fanaticism’. The text of the speech appears on the risers of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Grand Staircase where it is illuminated in the five colours – red, orange, yellow, blue, and green – designated by the United States Homeland Security Advisory System to signify threat levels. This companion book, which documents the installation, is the first full-scale exploration of Kallat’s work published by a North American institution. Along with an interview with the artist, essays contextualize Public Notice 3 within the space of the installation and evaluate Kallat’s oeuvre within an international context. More

The A + D Series

The A+D (Architecture and Design) series from the Art Institute of Chicago highlights the work of important architects and designers from around the world. Innovatively designed by the New York firm 2×4, the titles are either historical in nature or investigate current critical thinking and practice in architecture and design. Books in this series include Konstantin GRCICYoung Chicago and Douglas Garofalo.

Visit Yale University Press’s London website to see a more comprehensive list of Art Institute of Chicago books. Download our Autumn / Winter 2011 seasonal catalogue to take a look at new art books being published later in the year.

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