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Report from Chicago

VoCA loves Chicago. There is architecture: Frank Lloyd Wright in Oak Park, the Hancock Tower, the Sullivan Auditorium…..

…There is art: Chinese sculpture in Millienium Park, Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate, and Olafur Eliasson at the MCA…

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Shen Shaomin, Kowtow Pump, 2007. Image: picasaweb.google.com

We enjoyed the Kowtow Pump, 2007 by Shen Shaomin, which are large oil rigs painted in camouflage. Watching people pass by unaware of their powerful symbolism was quite something. Click HERE for more from the Chicago Art Blog.

…Best of all, you have art and architecture together: Renzo Piano’s elegant new addition to the Art Institute…


Cy Twombly, from the series III Notes From Salalah, (2005–07). Image: fadwebsite.com

Over at the Art Institute, where Renzo Piano’s addition delicately echoes the surrounding historical architecture while still maintaining incredible light and spatial qualities, we saw recent works by Cy Twombly. Now in his 80s, he is still going strong especially with his show titled The Natural World, Selected Works 2000-2007.

Our favorites were his organic, slightly decayed-looking sculpture, particularly Untitled, Lexington, 2002, which was two crooked, aged sticks leaning against a plinth, tied crudely at the top suggesting an elderly man grasping his cane with his knotted hand, or clinging to a sense of spirituality. It seemed appropriate for an artist of Twombly’s age and stature.


Cy Twombly, Untitled, Lexington, 2002. Image: artslant.com

Also great were the final series in the show, a number of large scale works titled III Notes From Salalah, (2005–07). Salalah is a port city in Yemen often romantically referenced in Arabic literature and Twombly here suggests a written language with bold gestures of translucent white paint against a chalk green background.

It was interesting to move from Twombly’s work that is contemporary but appears ancient to the exhibition Beyond Golden Clouds, Japanese screens from the 17th to the 20th centuries.

These pieces are timeless. According to the catalogue, “the screen is the canvas upon which artists have historically realized their most expansive visions, which is why they are so often career-defining masterpieces.” They were each stunning, but one in particular caught our attention.

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Okura Jiro’s The Mountain Lake Screen Tachi Series, 1990. Image: raykass.com

Minimalist sculptor Okura Jiro’s work From The Mountain Lake Screen Tachi Series, 1990 is made of two four-panel screens, cashew oil paint, and layered over top with gold leaf on black walnut. Interestingly, the gold leaf is intended to flake off over time, returning the screen to its original walnut façade. This is intended as a reference to Buddhist philosophies of impermanence.

The Eliasson exhibit over at the Museum of Contemporary Art seemed truly fresh. A small show titled Take Your Time, it featured the spectacular piece Beauty, 1993, in which a spotlight shines through a curtain of mist that you can walk through and the inverse chandelier Inverted Berlin sphere from 2005, where a globe made of small triangles of mirror turned inward surround a bulb. A self-conscious and greedy chandelier.

Click HERE for the MCA Chicago website.

And what is there to say about Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate? It was our first time seeing it in person, and it’s impossible to overrate it. Looking up from underneath, you become lost in a silvery kaleidoscope that repeats its infinite pattern forever.


Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate, seen from below. Image: tigger.uic.edu

One Response to “Report from Chicago”

  1. Andrea, I also saw for the time this contemporary masterpiece the ‘Cloud Gate’, I agree..’impossible to overate it’, and the Frank Gehry auditorium next to it ain’t bad at all I either ! ‘Monumental’!

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