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Exhibition Review: John Singer Sargent and More at AIC

Exhibition Review: John Singer Sargent and More at AIC

Recently, I visited the Art Institute of Chicago to view the John Singer Sargent exhibit. While there, I bumped into two other amazing exhibits! Here are the inspirations I found.

Note: As always, click the image to visit its source. If you're not redirected then it's an image I took...apologies for the warped perspective and harsh glare on my snapshots. I was trying not to bother other museum visitors :)

OK! first off the image above is one of my favorites from the show. I love the subtle sense of movement. She's just about to speak and jump off the sofa...and that fabric! The sheen of velvet...just gorgeous!

The exhibit is titled John Singer Sargent and Chicago's Gilded Age. Here's AIC's promotional video about the exhibit. 

The work on display was just perfect.

  • great personality caught from the sitters
  • nice mix between loose and controlled painting directed the eye on where to focus
  • contrast and hard/soft edges also used effectively to direct the viewer
  • loved that the wall text included which exhibits the artist showed the pieces. It was a nice detail that helped me gauge what the artist thought of his own work.

I loved the colors in the fabric in the painting below.

..and I loved the clever shadow of the artist in the field in the painting below.

Just a lovely body of work, an exhibit worth seeing. 

My main critique of the exhibit would be the curation. I wasn't sure what story was being told. As far as I could tell there were at least three narratives they were communicating to the visitors:

  1. Sargent's time in Chicago
  2. Sargent's friends and influences
  3. Sargent's most dominant subject matters

It was confusing. 

Also, I think they did Sargent a disservice by displaying artwork by other artists. I'd enter a gallery and find myself attracted to the one piece in the room that wasn't his. Not because it was really better but because it was unique. I also realized that most of the images I've seen on social media from those who visited the exhibit were the artworks by other artists. So I don't think I was the only one drawn to what felt unique and different.

The bonus of this, however, was that I learned about a new artist! Cecilia Beaux.  I'll spend time learning more about her and include that in a future blog post but here is the piece they had on display and a slideshow of some other pieces of hers I found online.

Again, apologies for the warped angle.

I can't go to AIC without checking out some more art. My favorites are a swing past the post-impressionists, the Japanese prints, and the textile gallery in the basement. This time the textile gallery had an awesome exhibit titled; Music and Movement: Rhythm in Textile Design. It was a fantastic mix between designs featuring musical themes or those that were inspired by songs and music. Below are some of my favorite pieces from that exhibit.

Another special exhibit I had to check out was Helen Frankenthaler Prints: The Romance of a New Medium. These were awesome and had me considering the change in art trends: hand made vs machine made, autotelic vs conceptual, medium responsive vs subject focused. Just a great exhibit!

Knit Painting: Skold

Knit Painting: Skold

Knit Painting: Kris

Knit Painting: Kris