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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

Masterpieces of the Art Institute of Chicago

Art Institute of Chicago Front

Masterpieces of the Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago, founded in 1879 and located in Chicago’s Grant Park, its collection covers over 5,000 years of human expression from cultures around the world and contains more than 300,000 works of art.

A City Pass offers significant value on Fast Pass admission to the Art Institute of Chicago’s galleries and nonticketed special exhibitions. See our Museum Shop for available offers.

Highlights of the Art Institute of Chicago

  • “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.” by Georges Seurat
    • “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” is one of Georges Seurat’s most famous works, and is a leading example of pointillism technique on a large canvas. Seurat’s composition depicts Parisians at a provincial park on the banks of the River Seine. Seurat was one of the leaders of a new and rebellious form of Impressionism called Neo-Impressionism.
  • “Nighthawks” by Edward Hopper
    • Nighthawks by Edward Hopper depicts people in a downtown diner late at night. It is Hopper’s most famous painting and one of the most recognisable pictures in American art. The scene was inspired by a diner in Greenwich Village near Hopper’s neighbourhood in Manhattan, which has since been demolished. Hopper said that a restaurant on Greenwich Avenue suggested the painting. He also stated that “I simplified the scene a great deal and made the restaurant bigger.”
  • “Paris Street, Rainy Day” by Gustave Caillebotte
    • “Paris Street, Rainy Day” by Gustave Caillebotte is his best-known work and depicts Parisians walking in the rain through the Place de Dublin, in 1877 Paris. Caillebotte was a friend of many of the impressionist painters, and this painting is part of that tradition. However, it differs in its realism and reliance on line rather than broad brush strokes. It also reflects Caillebotte’s interest in photography.
  • “American Gothic” by Grant Wood
    • “American Gothic” by Grant Wood depicts a farmer standing beside a woman. The woman is dressed in a colonial print apron evoking traditional Americana, and the man is holding a pitchfork. The inspiration came to Wood in his decision to paint what is known as the American Gothic House along with: “the kind of people I fancied should live in that house.”
  • “The Child’s Bath” by Mary Cassatt
    • “The Child’s Bath” by Mary Cassatt was inspired by Japanese woodblocks and depicts a mother or female carer bathing of a child. The female figure holds up the child firmly and protectively while washing the child’s feet. The left arm of the child braces against the mother’s thigh, while the other hand is holding on the child’s leg. The painting reflects the dignity of motherhood.
  • “Houses of Parliament, London” by Claude Monet
    • The Houses of Parliament by Claude Monet is one in a series of paintings of the Palace of Westminster, home of the British Parliament, created during the early 1900s while Monet stayed in London. All of the series’ paintings share the same viewpoint from Monet’s terrace at St Thomas’ Hospital overlooking the Thames and the approximate similar canvas size. They depict different times of the day and weather conditions.
  • Bathers by Paul Cézanne 
    • Bathers by Paul Cézanne is a reinterpreting of a historical tradition of painting nude figures in the landscape by famous artists such as Titian and Poussin. Historically artists took inspiration from classical myths, Cézanne, however, was not depicting a mythological story he was more concerned with the harmony of the figures to the landscape. When this painting was exhibited in 1907, it became an inspiration for Picasso, Matisse and other artists who were exploring and developing new art movements. ‘Bathers’ is reminiscent of earlier artists works and comparisons can be made with more modern works such as Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.
  • “Arrival of the Normandy Train, Gare Saint-Lazare” by Claude Monet
    • “Arrival of the Normandy Train, Gare Saint-Lazare” by Claude Monet is one of four surviving Monet paintings representing the interior of the Saint-Lazare train station. Monet depicted the Gare St-Lazare as an interior landscape, with smoke from the engines creating the same effect as clouds in the sky. After several years of painting in the countryside in Argenteuil, he turned to urban landscapes in Paris. Monet was diversifying his portfolio and competing with other painters of modern life. In this painting, Monet successfully captured the effects of light, movement, and clouds of steam in a modern urban setting.
  • “Saint Martin and the Beggar” by El Greco
    • “Saint Martin and the Beggar” by El Greco depicts the best-known story on the life of the Christian Saint Martin of Tours, who when he was in the Roman cavalry used his military sword to cut his cloak in two, to give half to a beggar who was clad only in rags in the depth of winter. Saint Martin of Tours (336 – 397) was the third bishop of Tours after he had served in the Roman cavalry in Gaul and converted to Christianity at a young age. This smaller version by El Greco is in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago; a larger version is in the collection of The National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.
  • Two Sisters or On the Terrace by Pierre-Auguste Renoir
    • Two Sisters or On the Terrace by Pierre-Auguste Renoir depicts the upper terrace of the Maison Fournaise, a family restaurant located on an island in the Seine in Chatou, the western suburb of Paris. The painting shows a young woman and her younger girl seated outdoors with a small basket containing balls of wool. In the background over the railings of the terrace, are flowering plants and vines and then the River Seine with boats and some buildings in the top left on the other side of the river.

Visiting  the Art Institute of Chicago

  • A Chicago City Pass offers significant savings on Fast Pass admission to the Art Institute of Chicago’s galleries and nonticketed special exhibitions. See our Museum Shop for available offers.
  • The museum is open daily 10:30–5:00 and Thursdays until 8:00. The museum and its shops are closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
  • Located in Chicago, across from Millennium Park and steps from Lake Michigan.
  • Pictures in the galleries?
    • Non-flash photography is permitted in all permanent galleries. There are also signs indicating a few works that are not allowed to be photographed due to a lender requirement.
  • Is sketching allowed?
    • Only Sketching with pencils is allowed, provided there are no restrictions by lenders.

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“Well done is better than well said.”
– Benjamin Franklin

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Photo Credit: Pinotgris at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

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