Chicago has had a long love affair with Claude Monet -- one that dates back to the late 1800s, after the Great Chicago Fire. The Art Institute's upcoming exhibition, Monet and Chicago, is the first of its kind to focus on the city’s unique relationship with the artist.
“This exhibition celebrates the results of a city rebuilt, and its forward-thinking patrons such as Bertha and Potter Palmer, Martin A. and Carrie Ryerson and Annie Swan Coburn,” said Gloria Groom, chair and David and Mary Winton Green curator of European painting and sculpture.
Groom said the influential figures were part of a movement to bolster Chicago’s cultural standing and were drawn to the avant-garde style of the French impressionists.
The Art Institute of Chicago was the first American museum to purchase a work by Monet in the early 1900’s, and has the largest collection outside of Paris.
However, the majority of its Monet collection comes from generous donors, like the Palmer's. Among the 33 paintings in the Art Institute's permanent collection, only two were purchased by the museum.
The Monet and Chicago exhibition also includes 36 paintings on loan from private collectors.
“Some can trace their family ties to the artist back to the nineteenth century and others are relatively new collectors of Impressionism," Groom said. "Seeing the paintings in our collection together with these works on loan puts our works in the larger context of Monet’s career."
Other exhibition highlights include guided videos focusing on the materials and techniques Monet used, which aid better understanding his creative process.
“We also have a large octagonal room with 11-foot screens that allow a totally immersive experience to bring us closer than ever before to Monet’s painted surfaces and deeper into his artistic practice of (his) best-known paintings done in “series”—The Stacks of Wheat, London on the Thames and the Water Lilies,” added Groom.
The Art Institute will complete installation of Monet and Chicago once the statewide stay at home order lifts. Visit www.artic.edu for more updates. In the meantime, enjoy what The Art Institute has to offer virtually.