looking at art in Chicago

Twombly, Salalah, Acrylic on wood panel,96 x 144 in. (243.8 x 365.8 cm)

My friend Martha and I made a quick trip to Chicago for a couple days to see the Cy Twombly show at the Art Institute. Cy Twombly: The Natural World, Selected Works 2000–2007
May 16–October 11, 2009 It's a show of work in a variety of media from photography, paint on paper, sculpture and truly heroically scaled paintings. The disparate range of the work is striking. The paintings are wonderfully gestural - no surprise from Twombly. We appreciated how well installed the exhibition was - with really good curatorial notes that added to one's enjoyment and understanding of the work. That's often a week point of shows so I'm very glad to see it. I've reproduced my two favorite pieces from this exhibition. If anyone knows what kind of paper Twombly used for the series the piece below is part of, I'd be most interested to know.

Untitled, 2001

Acrylic, wax crayon, and collage on paper, 48 3/4 x 39 1/4 in. (124 x 99.5 cm)


This was my first trip to see the new wing of the Art Institute, a museum I've been visiting since I was a little kid. The new wing is really dazzling - open, inviting and airy. It was a terrific setting for the Twombly work, giving it elegant space to shine. There was also a marvellous exhibition of Japanese Screens - ranging from 15th century to modern works. The show is up from June 26–September 27, 2009 This was one of my favorites:

Morita Shiryu, Japanese, 1912-1998

Dragon Knows Dragon (Ryu wa ryu wo shiru), 1969

Four-panel screen; aluminum flake pigment in polyvinyl acetate medium, yellow alkyd varnish, on paper, 162 x 307 cm (63 3/4 x 120 7/8 in.)


We also went to the Museum of Contemporary Art where we saw the exhibition Take your Time: -Olafur Eliasson. May 1 - September 13, 2009 Eliasson works in a variety of media. He's probably most known for the interesting things he does with light. This show takes up the entire first floor of the museum and gives a good sense of Eliasson's range - including works with fixed light, projection, complicated installation and most interesting to me - maquettes, giving one a sense of the artist's process and source images. There was one piece, pictured below, which was deceptively simple. One entered a dark room which had a fine spray of mist coming down from the ceiling with some white lights shining through it. The room was tiled with some sort of absorbent rubber on the floor and there was no other light source. You could walk all the way around the waterfall of mist and there was no sound other than the gentle hiss of the water. So subtle and lovely - and evocative of places I've been but utterly generalized as to place.

Beauty, 1993. Installation view at AROS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, 2004

As I mentioned, one room was full of maquettes and photos that the artist uses for ideas, sources, references. The maquettes were mostly soldered metal wire or metal tape in interesting, geometrically complex forms. The photos comprised 4 sets of images, each hung ganged. One set, shown below, of islands, one of horizons, one of grottos and one of aerial views of rivers. Given my own interests I'm sure no one is surprised that these really grabbed me from a variety of points of view.

The island series, 1997. Private collection; photo: Oren Slor; © 2009

This entry has gotten long enough that I'll wait to post about the galleries we visisted. The two museums were well worth a trip in and of themselves. The Eliasson show comes down Sept 13 so there's not a lot of time left to see it - and it's fascinating.

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