Artsy Fartsy

August 30, 2010 at 1:19 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

I love free stuff.  Chicago is a great place for free events and attractions and just about every museum here has free days as well.  The Art Institute of Chicago goes a step beyond a sporadically placed free day and opens their doors to all from 5-8pm every Thursday evening.

I’m slightly ashamed to say I had never taken advantage of this opportunity – until last week, that is.  There are many things on my Chicago Bucket List and last Thursday gave me the perfect opportunity to check one item off.  I met up with a friend after work and we managed a good two hours in the place before the doors closed for the night.  Two hours in the Art Institute is a joke because the place is huge but I did manage to see some pretty cool stuff.  Also, I now know how I’ll be spending lots of my Thursday evenings from here on out.

American Gothic

This was one of the paintings I saw.  American Gothic has been parodied in pop culture since it was first released in 1930 and so chances are you’ve seen it (or something like it) somewhere.  I had always figured this was a representation of a husband and wife, but I was wrong.  Instead, this painting is supposed to depict a farmer and his unmarried, spinster daughter.  The artist of the painting is Grant Wood and he recruited his dentist and his sister as the subjects.  There’s a plant in the background behind the woman and the man is obviously holding a pitchfork, and these props represent the stereotypical jobs of each gender.  Also, the models sat separately and were never actually posed together in front of the house, which is pretty fascinating (at least, to me).

Here are a couple of parodies:

Somehow, I doubt Barbie would've made it in the early 1900's.

The original parody, also by Grant Wood , circa 1942

Another super cool and famous painting I managed to see is this one:

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper, 1942

Again, a piece of art that has been parodied many times.  While I was viewing this one, a large group of Chicago Trolley drivers happened to be checking it out as well.  I’m not sure if the Trolley drivers have to actually go to all of the tourist hot spots they talk about, but they were definitely getting a run-down at the Institute.  I listened in and learned that

If I could grow facial hair, I would totally have one of these bad boys

Hopper used green, red and yellow coloring in the painting because, psychologically speaking, those colors make people slightly uncomfortable.  Also, the only door that we see leads to the kitchen so we’re in an enclosed area with the subjects we’re viewing, making the whole thing more personal.  The drivers seemed to enjoy it as much as I did – and as an interesting side note, one of them had an awesomely retro handlebar mustache.  I certainly got a kick out of that.

As I mentioned, the Art Institute is massive and so I really only got through a couple of the exhibits.  I’m pretty excited to go back and check out more and one of the advantages of the looming winter is that I bet it’s a lot less crowded once the tourists vacate the city.  I plan on checking this place out many more times and perhaps one day I’ll become as familiar with its exhibits as I am with those at the Field.

Speaking of museum exhibits, I had my two-day class this weekend at Northwestern.  You can expect a recap of that tomorrow, because it was super cool and I geeked out all over the place.  The only thing that could’ve made it better is if the professor had had a handlebar mustache for me to envy while she lectured.

**Edit:  I tried to get the pictures formatted into a more aesthetically pleasing way but wordpress is working against me today and I lost our battle.  C’est la vie.


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