New Exhibits at the Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago is a seminal art museum, famous not only in Chicago but across the country for its cutting edge exhibits, unparalleled collections, and impressive programming. Whether you’ve visited this national institution annually or you’re a first time visitor, there’s always something new to experience. So if you’re in Chicago this summer, pay a visit to the Art Institute to check out their new exhibits.

Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity

6/26/13 -9/22/13

This exhibit is one of the most anticipated of the year at the Art Institute of Chicago. The show combines a contemporary interest in fashion as a culture with a study of impressionist paintings of both men and women in high fashion garments. While the impressionist school of painting is a well-known one, the role that fashion seems to have played in their aesthetic is a question worth examining further. This internationally acclaimed exhibition focuses on the intersection of art and fashion in impressionist paintings from the mid-1860s to the mid-1880s. The exhibit features 75 figure paintings from famous impressionist artists such as Degas, Manet, Renoir, Monet, and Seurat, including many rare pieces never before exhibited in the United States. These fine art pieces are accompanied by actual clothing and accessories from the period in question: from full men’s suits and ball gowns to parasols and shoes, this exhibit displays the material culture behind the paintings. If you’re interested in the rise of Paris as a fashion capitol of the world, the development of the modern fashion industry, and the emergence of the “fashionista” culture, this exhibit is a must-see!

Art Institute of Chicago

“Laziness,” by Félix Edouard Vallotton ; image copyright Art Institute of Chicago

Undressed: The Fashion of Privacy

6/22/13 – 9/29/13

This exhibit is a companion to the Impressionism exhibit discussed above. Through more than 120 drawings, prints, paintings, photographs, and other materials, this exhibit chronicles the role that clothing – or the lack thereof – played in art depicting the private lives of every day men and women in history. Materials come from the late 18th-century to the mid-20th, and are organized to explore the ways in which clothing and the conventions of dress functioned in the home or other private settings. If you think this sounds like an odd subject, think again. A lot of the most famous paintings around the world feature figures in various states of undress – from the traditional romantic or erotic model, to bathers and other figures from the domestic sphere, men, women, and children unclothed are a major feature of fine art worldwide.  Featured artists include Degas, Manet, Mary Cassatt, Cézanne, and Edvard Munch. This Art Institute of Chicago exhibit showcases the other side of high fashion – the intimacy of undress.

Art Institute of Chicago

“Dividing Line” by Zarina; image copyright Art Institute of Chicago

Zarina: Paper like Skin

6/26/13– 9/22/13

This exhibit is the first-ever retrospective of Zarina Hashmi (known usually only by her first name), an Indian-born American artist who specializes in paper as her medium of art.  The exhibit includes etchings, woodcuts, drawings, rubbings, and casts made from paper pulp – a wide and diverse range of the use of paper in artistic creation. The exhibit spans the past 30 years of her artistic career, the majority of which was spent in New York. Zarina is also known as a prominent feminist from the 1970s, having used her work as a medium to express important social and political views. Although her work can be found in other museums across the country, like the Museum of Modern Art in New York, this is the first time a special exhibit has been comprised solely of her work. This is a beautiful and striking exhibit, an inspiring artistic experience for anyone interested in the modern multi-media art scene.


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