The Chagall Windows Are Back!

Immortalized in pop culture as the windows Ferris Bueller visits on his famous day off, The America Windows by Chagall are back on public view after a five year absence. They were removed during construction of the new Modern Wing, to protect them from potential damage from building vibration.

Because of their former placement in an external window overlooking the courtyard, the stained glass was found to be in need of a thorough, two-year-long clean up. Now, the windows look gorgeous, the colors vibrant in their restored glory.

As glad as I was to see the Chagall windows again, I'm not crazy with where they've placed them in the museum. Their former location, while perhaps not the artist's intention, was a dramatic setting, at the end of the main gallery that most everyone passes through on their visit to the Art Institute. From a distance you could see the windows and they were really set off. No matter where you were going in the museum, you were pretty sure to view the windows in their prime location. Now, it's no surprise this spot is occupied by a gift shop.

The windows are now tucked at the end of a gallery that's not on the way to anything, stuck off in a back corner where the new wing and the old building meet. You really have to seek them out and when you do, the impact is diminished by the surrounding. They're framed by two walls and a low ceiling, which was apparently Chagall's initial intention. I found it a tad claustrophobic as opposed to soaring. There's also no way to step back and view all the windows from a bit of a distance, since there's a pillar in the way. Talk about your obstructed view.

Obviously, this is no art critique. Simply the opinion of a frequent visitor to the Art Institute. While I understand the need to protect the windows from the elements, I was disappointed by their choice of location and overall presentation of the windows. I'm guessing their placement near an auditorium and a large space that can be used for special events had something to do with it. It's certainly off the beaten track.

Keep an Eye Out for Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman

Visualacousticsposter Photographer Julius Shulman (if you don’t know the name, you probably know the image) died earlier this year. There’s a documentary about him currently making the film festival circuit, which combines two of my interests, photography and architecture, and judging from the trailer, it’s a must-add to my Netflix queue. (While I know it’s showing here at the Chicago International Film Festival, my days of fighting the crowds and paying big ticket prices at the local fest are long over.)

Must Sleep Now

I’m absolutely dead tired and should be asleep now, but must post to the blog before the midnight hour to get this day’s post in. Just a quick blast of randomness before I got to sleep:

  • We new it was a risk when we bought Cubs’ tickets back in May for games in late August and September. At least, I said to myself, even if they’re out of contention (which they very much are right now) it’s pleasant to be outside enjoying a game on a lovely summer night at Wrigley Field. That was before the Ice Age summer struck. This evening it was long sleeves and layers as I watched a losing game in 50-degree temps. I expect that in April, not August.
  • Got a good news/bad news scenario from the vet today. The good news: my cat Maisy’s thyroid condition is treatable with a one-time treatment, which has a high rate of success. The bad news: $$$.
  • Kirsty, frequent commenter to this blog, will be in Trafalgar square in a few hours to cheer her husband on as he takes to the 4th Plinth. You can catch his hour on the plinth live (3-4p.m. London time, 9a.m. central time) or catch it in rerun at the One & Other site. Break a leg Mark!

Halfway Through One & Other — Highlights From the Fourth Plinth

The Fourth Plinth
Photo by FrankLong on Flickr.

One and Other, the living art project going on in Trafalgar Square this summer, is over half-way through its 100 day run and it’s just as entertaining now as it was that first week. I continue to spread the news about the Plinth to all who will listen and figure I’m long overdue with another list of my favorite plinthers thus far. So here goes:

Week 2 —

Week 3 —

Week 4 —

  • LilacbonzaiThe infamous first naked plinther who caused a controversy, not because he appeard “with his kit off” but because the cops told him to put it back on.

Week 5 —

More to come.

It’s Sad When There Are More People in the Apple Store Than at the MCA

Popped into the Apple store on Michigan Avenue this afternoon and you’d have thought they were giving away free iPods from the crowd of people there. A good portion of them were hunkered over laptops, staring intently at the screens as if they were extras in a NASA control center. The place was mobbed, upstairs and down. Just another day at Chicago’s Mac central.

Two blocks away, in the Museum of Contemporary Art, a much smaller number of people were marveling at the Olafur Eliasson exhibit Take Your Time, a fantastic collection of pieces by the Danish artist. An immersion of light, color, photography, wire, stone, moss, shadow, prism, paint, glass, and water.

Carl recommended this to me, knowing I would enjoy it. The less I knew ahead of time the better, he said, and he was right. Best to be surprised–and there’s a lot to be surprised by. Go–you have until September 13th to be surprised yourself. (Tuesdays are free!)

Interesting fact I just learned: Eliasson was the artist responsible for the waterfalls in New York last summer which I loved (though, unfortunately I never actually saw them.) I hadn’t realized it was the same guy ’til now.