Monday, December 16, 2013

#MakeMeSmileMondays A Holiday Visit to the Art Institute of Chicago

On Saturday, my son had an orthodontist appointment. Since we were on Michigan Avenue, afterwards we visited the Art Institute of Chicago, where I had a chance to see all the exhibits and paintings I'd wanted to, with the added benefit of having a great kid by my side. 

I have been dying to see Violence and Virtue: Artemisia Gentileschi’s Judith Slaying Holofernes since it came to Chicago, and finally I was once again face to face to this painting, one of the most powerful paintings ever, and one of my all-time favorites. To me, it sums up coming to your senses, taking back your power, and using all your strength to follow through with what's right. 

Artemisia Gentileschi Judith Slaying Holofernes
"The daughter of painter Orazio Gentileschi, Artemisia trained in her father’s workshop and quickly earned acclaim, completing her first signed painting, a dramatic yet sensitive rendering of Susanna and the Elders, when she was just 17. Her style bears some resemblance to that of her father, who was a follower of Caravaggio, but Artemisia’s paintings stand out for their theatricality—the raw emotional intensity of a few figures daringly arranged. The younger Gentileschi’s work is also distinctive in its focus on powerful heroines, capturing both their vulnerability and strength, a feature many attribute to events in Gentileschi’s own life. At the age of 18, she was raped by one of her father’s colleagues, Agostino Tassi. He was convicted in a trial a year later after Artemisia was tortured to “confirm” her testimony, but Tassi was never punished. Within months of the conclusion of the trial, Artemisia was quickly married and moved to Florence with her new husband." (from the Art Institute's website)

The Art and Appetite exhibit, next up on my wish list, was wonderful - check out the related online cookbook - and Daniel was able to see an Andy Warhol painting up close (he's been studying Warhol at school). All those images of food increased our appetite, so we headed to the Modern Wing and lunched at Terzo Piano. (Daniel recommends the burger, with its garlic aioli; I recommend the arugula salad with roasted pumpkin and gorgonzola toasts). The view of the snow covered city was lovely. (Here's a trivia tidbit from the Italian teacher in me: Terzo Pianco means 3rd Floor, and this restaurant is not only on the 3rd floor of the Modern Wing, but the Modern Wing was designed by Renzo Piano. I just love that play on words!)



I love crèches, and Neapolitan crèches take the cake. When I lived in Italy, I had a boyfriend from that region and every Christmas he and his family created an elaborate crèche. That inspired me to start my own family's tradition of creating a beautiful crèche in our own home: every year I add more figurines, hoping to eventually create an entire village of Bethlehem. The Art Institute just unveiled a mid-18th-century Neapolitan crèche and this exhibit alone makes for a fine reason to visit the Art Institute over the holidays. It's one of the very few and finest examples of such a work outside of Naples, and it truly is a holiday gift to the city

Speaking of the holidays, the museum is decked out in its Christmas finery. I just loved all the pretty greenery adorning the grand staircase, and of course, the lions with their festive red bows. 


Don't miss a visit to the Art Institute of Chicago this holiday season!
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