Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Art and Hot Dogs

This was the view out the window while I enjoyed my Belgian waffle for breakfast.  I thought it was amazingly cool, classical and modern architecture collide!

Today we began the day at The Art Institute!  Pretty exciting!  The institute is another thing we already had tickets for with our fun city passes, attraction #2 check!

I love the lions that frame the entrance, they are such awesome icons for the building

As you might have figured out by now, I am obsessed with the architecture of this building.  It is so majestic and every detail is so beautifully carved and sculpted.  They just don't make buildings like they used to

Our first stop was the European Impressionist wing, that is my mom and dads favorite kind of art, and I love it as well.  It was filled with Monet's, Van Goghs, Renoir's and Seurat's who wouldn't like that?  I always find it difficult to document time spent in a museum, basically it is just a bunch of pictures of pictures.  I tried to be selective of the pictures I took, so it wouldn't be a boring blog post ha ha.  But some of the things I saw I was really excited about, and could not resist taking a picture!

The Crystal Palace by Camille Pissaro 1871
I was intrigued by this painting because I am obsessed with a.) The different worlds fairs and b.) the Crystal Palace that was built for the Great Exhibition of 1851.  Out of all the temporary things that were built to impress people during those exhibitions, this is one that I desperately wish had survived.  It looked like it was such a gorgeous building.  I love when history is reflected in art, it is something that excites me to no end.

Their collections of Renoir's was impressive.  I love Renoir's portraits, they are so pleasings and his skin tones are unlike any other painters.  Sorry these pictures are so dark!

And here it is, the most famous piece in the Art Institute, in my opinion.  People go to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa, I feel people go to the Art Institute to see Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.  (Especially after Ferris Buhler's day off)  It truly is something that is amazing to see in person, so you can get right up close and see all those amazingly tiny brush strokes.

The monkey has always been my favorite detail about this painting.  Out of the long discussions we had in class about this painting, the parts that mentioned the monkey are always what stick out in my mind.  The little dog is pretty cute with that bow around his neck.

I am also endlessly fascinated by all the colors that impressionist use to make up different skin tones.  Look at that man's face Seurat used yellow, green, blue, purple, white, brown etc to create a skin tone with highlights and low lights.  I find that to be so cool!
While Sunday Afternoon is his most famous piece, Seurat did quite a few other paintings in the same location as studies before he completed his master piece.  I want to go to the Island of La Grande Jatte, it looks like such a lovely place.

Le Moulin de la Galette Terrace and Observation Deck at the
Moulin de Blute-Fin, Montmartre 1886
This was a little painting by Van Gogh that caught my eye.  I can't really explain why I was drawn to it, I just found it to be charming.  I did some research on it and discovered The Boulevard de Clichy a street in Montmartre, played an important role in Van Gogh's life in Paris. The Café du Tambourine was located there, a restaurant just around the corner from the apartment where he lived with his brother Theo. There Van Gogh met with other artists and displayed some of his works.

       Bedroom in Arles Vincent van Gogh 1888
Paintings by Van Gogh, especially those of his living spaces and other personal things, will always have a special place in my heart.  I wrote a term paper on this famous artist during my undergrad studies that analyzed how his different moods effected the way his paintings looked.  During my research, I read a ton of his letters that he wrote, mostly to his brother Theo.  I really felt like I got to know this troubled soul, almost like he was a dear friend of mine.  His letters are beautiful and heartfelt, and while he might have been a manic who was hard to deal with a lot of the time, Van Gogh had a very tender heart, had so many wonderful insights on life and loved his family and religion with all his being. 
Au Moulin Rouge  by Toulouse-Lautrec 1892This painting is fascinating for many reasons. First, the artist painted a self portrait right in the middle of the painting.  He is the short man standing in the background with the brown coat.  Sneaky, sneaky.  I also am intrigued by renditions of everyday life in Paris in the 1880.  It would have been an interesting time to be alive.  I wouldn't say it was the height of civilization as discussed in the awesome movie, Midnight in Paris when you met Toulouse Lautrec in the Moulin Rouge (that movie is so clever!) but I think all the paintings that come out of that time are pretty neat.

Before you judge me for taking such an awful picture, let me explain.  After the artists death, the painting wasn't doing very well in the market, nobody wanted to buy it and display it in their home ... shocker.  So they cut down the canvas to omit the garish, green face of the entertainer that draws the eye to the right side of the painting *gasp!* you can see the seam of where it was cut of on the left side of the highlight. As you have probably figured out, they returned the canvas to it's original state a few years later.
A close up of Toulouse-Lautrec's self portrait.

I love all of Monet's studies on the light at different times of day.  While he might not have been the best human in the world,  I find some of his ideas, experiments and thoughts to be genius.

Branch of the Seine near Giverny (Mist) by Claude Monet 1897
This is another one that I was just drawn to like a magnet.  I could have stared at it for hours.  While it might not seem like the most interesting painting, I find all the different tones and hues to be mesmerizing and unbelievably peaceful. Monet did a series of 18 canvases capturing the different times of day of the Seine.  He painted all these works in a flat bottomed boat that he anchored to the river bank.

One thing that I love about seeing paintings in person is seeing the signature of the artist.  I don't know what it is, but I find something about artists signatures to be extremely personal.  I can look at a painting for hours and not feel very connected to the artist, even though their hand created each individual brush stroke, and.  But just a glance at a signature makes the artist come to life in my imagination and I can picture them in their studio painting away.  Maybe that makes me sound like a complete crazy art historian, but I don't care.  I will continue to find magic in artists signatures.

I just couldn't stand not taking some pictures of a couple of Monet's famous water lilies.  What a wonderful subject matter to paint over and over, each one looks completely different even though he must of painted it a hundred times.

Oh Cezanne, your still lifes are awesome.  I remember studying this piece for hours in multiple classes it was definitely revolutionary in it's day.  The thing I find the most interesting about this work, is that he painted the table from a couple of different perspectives, as you will notice, the edges of the table don't match up on either side of the towel in the middle of the composition. 

I love Gauguin's canvases from Tahiti.  They are so unique and full of color.

Just a couple of GORGEOUS art neavou pieces of furniture

Here are a couple breath taking portraits by John Singer Sargent.  His ability to portray different kinds of fabrics, such as that opalescent satin on Mrs. George Swinton's dress is amazing.  I think if I were to have a portrait painted, I think I might have it done by Mr. Sargent.

And I would want him to write a nice message to me in the corner
"To my friend..."

I was excited to see some works by Mary Cassatt.  I remember my mom giving me some stationary with paintings by Cassatt on them when I was little, thus I have studied her work from a very young age.  I love that she chose to focus a lot of her works on such tender, intimate moments between children and their mothers.  I also am obsessed with the influence of Japanese Prints on her work, such as the pattern on pattern on pattern.  Seeing different cultures influence each other is something that I love to look for in paintings, and in history in general.

Georgia O'Keeffe larger then life works are always so impressive to see in person.  Whether it be her brightly colored flowers, that she is so famous for or her darker works of crosses and animal bones.  Her view of life is one of a kind.

American Gothic by Grant Wood 1930
This may be another work that people travel to Chicago to see.  American Gothic depicts a farmer and his spinster daughter posing before their house, whose gabled window and tracery, in the American Gothic style, inspired the painting's title. In fact, the models were the painter's sister and their dentist.

I convinced my parents to walk through a couple rooms of modern art, but it was a quick walk through ha ha
I'm glad we did our quick tour of modern art, otherwise we would have missed the Night Hawks by Edward Hopper!  Here is a journal entry that Edward and his wife, Jo, wrote about this painting I bolded a couple of things I found interesting:

"Very good looking blond boy in white (coat, cap) inside counter. Girl in red blouse, brown hair eating sandwich. Man night hawk (beak) in dark suit, steel grey hat, black band, blue shirt (clean) holding cigarette. Other figure dark sinister back—at left. Light side walk outside pale greenish. Darkish red brick houses opposite. Sign across top of restaurant, dark—Phillies 5c cigar. Picture of cigar. Outside of shop dark, green. Note: bit of bright ceiling inside shop against dark of outside street—at edge of stretch of top of window.   Ed has just finished a very fine picture--a lunch counter at night with 3 figures. Night Hawks would be a fine name for it. E. posed for the two men in a mirror and I for the girl. He was about a month and half working on it."
I look super nervous and I don't know why, nervous with excitement I guess ...?

Then we set off in search of Chagall's American windows.   The images on these panels are unmistakably from the hand of Chagall, who infused his landscape of familiar American icons, references to Chicago, and symbols of the fine arts with an ethereally that suggests the creative expansiveness made possible by American freedom and liberty.  Chagall determined that the windows would commemorate America’s bicentennial. The resulting work celebrates the country as a place of cultural and religious freedom, detailing the arts of music, painting, literature, theater, and dance.

In the panel that celebrates the art of literature, Chagall Incorporated the signing of the declaration of independence.  You can see the document spread out on a desk and a hand coming to add it's signature to the list.  I thought that was a cool detail.

Our last stop in the museum was the Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room.  I was completely blown away by how beautiful this room was!  The room was designed and built in 1883-1896 and then transferred to the museum in the 1970s.  I'll let the pictures speak for themselves ...

After our wonderful time at the museum it was time to get some lunch.  I had picked out a place for us to go that was just right across the street from the museum.  On our walk there, we passed the sign that marked the beginning of the famous route 66.  A random but very cool artifact that we just happen to stumble upon.
And here it is, the place I had picked out for us to have a "traditional" Chicago lunch.  The two foods I wanted to make sure to eat while in this city were deep dish pizza and a Chicago dog.  I am happy to report I left the city having experienced both! I know for a fact my parents never would have done this if I wasn't there pressuring them to do it ha ha so thank you parents for being so awesome and experiencing this with me!
I didn't know so many Cities had hot dogs they were famous for.  If only I had known when I had been in some of these cities!  Next time for sure ....

1 down 19 to go ...

For those of you who may not know what makes up a Chicago dog it consists of a poppy seed bun, a beef dog, mustard, sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, chopped white onions, tomato slices and a dash of celery salt.

We all loved them, and they were all gone in a matter of seconds.  Even though it has a long list of unique ingredients, I thought it just tasted like mustard ... but any hot dog is delicious in my mind.

There weren't too many dogs listed for the west coast.  We need to get those brothers back to Utah to have a J dawg and get us on the map!

Chicago dog, check!

I wish I had known about these when I was traveling in the South, they sound amazing!


  1. Kate! I am SO jealous!!! Looks amazing!!!!

  2. I loved the signatures of the artists! What a fun thing to collect! Renoir's little girl in the flowered hat is so fabulous when you see it in person...I also loved the Chagall windows and how the glass artist rubbed the back of the blue glass with acid to create different shades of blue to match Chagall's water color sketches. Your pictures were terrific and captured the excitement of seeing a painting you had studied in a book...in person, up close where you can see the brush strokes!