Today looks like it might be my first day of a week of blogging from the Panera Bread Company (home of free wi-fi) as I can’t get my Mac laptop to sync with the University Center’s ethernet connection.  Hopefully, you’re reading this before you go to the Art Institute of Chicago, so that I can tell you about my favorite painting in the world.

When I was young, my parents dragged me to some of the greatest cultural institutions in the world long before I was old enough to fully appreciate them.  I have been to the Louvre in Paris, for example, but not since I was nine.  The one thing I do remember about that visit, however, was the French Impressionist who painted entirely with dots.  Later I learned (or at least continued to remember) that his name was Georges Seurat.  While I was born in Chicago, my family left for New Jersey when I was six years old and I didn’t come back until I was applying for college and had an interview at the University of Chicago on the South Side.  While I was here, Dad took me to the Art Institute and I was absolutely hooked by the painting above.

It’s called A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Seurat, and, of course, I loved it because I remembered the dots. Seurat died of some unknown disease at just age 31, so there aren’t many of these paintings to look at, anywhere. But I also love this particular painting because it’s absolutely huge. Seriously, the dang thing takes up more area than most people’s kitchens, and it’s all done in unique, individual dots. I visit it every time I’m in Chicago and just sit and stare at it for at least 15 minutes. As soon as we’re done with our tour at 2PM, that’s where you’ll find me.

PS It’s also the subject of a Stephen Sondheim musical which is much, much better than a musical about a painting has any right to be.


6 responses to “Masterpiece.

  1. darlenederbigny

    I did not see your blog until Sunday night but I also spent time with Seurat because this same painting was in an English literature book I used one year and I enjoyed discussing it with my students, so for me it was a pleasant event to see the original painting. So viva A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.

  2. darlenederbigny

    Concerning Gino’s, I prefer the pizza in Philly and NY. Deep dish just looks like it is not quite done. It was interesting anyway. Ask Eloyda about a recommendation for pizza she was given by a local Chicagoan. You win some, you lose some.

  3. There’s something that draws me to the painting as well. Maybe a naive belief of the innocence of the time period. I know that world didn’t really exist, but in my mind, all Americans spent their time having picnics on the beach, sipping drinks on the veranda or playing crochet on the front lawn.

  4. I enjoyed the pointillism as well as the many other styles of painting. It is always amazing to me how painters “see” the product they are creating. Seeing paintings in life, close up give the viewer a deeper appreciation for how the creations come about….the brush strokes, dots, layering. I can’t paint worth a hill of beans, but studying paintings can be an encompassing activity.

  5. mattharris1

    I thought the European collection was terrific. I’ve admired Winslow Homer’s work, and I was delighted to know that the Institute had several pieces of his. And of course American Gothic was a treat. I thought the guide was very good at explaining the origin of the piece, why it was done, and the effect it had outside of Iowa.

  6. Darlene Derbigny

    I always enjoy art museums. I liked Mary Cassatt’s The Child’s Bath even before she explained the details of the artist’s approach. It is real, kids have to be washed and it is a tender moment, not mushy, but tender.

    Maybe Wednesday afternoon we can spent a couple of hours in the DuSable Museum because it is near the museum of Science and Industry.

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