Art Review: Art Institute Chicago

FOT16EBArt Institute Chicago has several fantastic exhibits you should see! The first I will mention is called Gates of the Lord: The Tradition of Krishna Paintings. The exhibit features an extensive array of small paintings and large textile hangings called pichvais.

I have more experience with Catholic art and Orthodox Iconography than with Hindu art, so my instinct is to draw comparisons between these traditions. Scenes from Krishna’s childhood, like the image in the upper left, remind me of apocryphal scenes from the childhood of Jesus. I also noticed visual similarities in many of the pichvais to techniques from Orthodox Iconography.

For example, Icon writers often reverse the rules of perspective, rendering far-away parts of a three-dimensional landscape larger than the close-up areas. The psychological effect is to pull the viewer into the piece, temporarily blocking out the outside world. I noticed this same technique being employed by some of the Hindu artists. Whether there was cross-cultural influence, or the artists simply developed similar solutions to the same challenges, I don’t know.

Gates of the Lord will be up through January 3rd. This exhibit comes with my highest recommendation. You will be inspired and hopefully a little enlightened by the experience.


I want to mention a few other must-see items, including Homegrown: The School of the Art Institute in the Permanent Collection. This exhibit features work by now-famous SAIC alumni, including Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Red Grooms, and Chris Ware. This show runs through February 14.

Finally, there are two exhibits I wrote about previously (here and here): Dionysos Unmasked and A Voyage to South America, which features beautiful Cuzco religious paintings. These shows run through February 15 and February 21, respectively. See them while you can!

FOTF908On our way to the Art Institute, Jerry and I happened upon a store on State Street in which Hebru Brantley, an artist who impressed me very much last year, had installed large fiberglass statues of his Flyboy character! This is the second time I’ve seen his work outside of an exhibit: he also has some beautiful murals in Lincoln Square. Congratulations on your success, Hebru!