Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Art school for the dilettante

I went to the Art Institute of Chicago yesterday.

Try to guess the movie from the following four pictures of Seurat's "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte":




My real reason for visiting the Institute, though, was to see a specific painting: Edward Hopper's 1942 painting "Nighthawks."

The painting captures a feeling of solitude I've felt a thousand times all across the world; that even in the presence of others, loneliness can still be entrenching. Sometimes I am grateful for the solitude, other times I am not. So it's the man by himself at the counter that always gets to me. It makes me wonder what kind of solitude this man is experiencing, or if he would even consider it such.

The painting is the only one I know of that makes me wish I could talk to the painter behind it, to really find out what went through his head as he painted it.

I should mention that I don't generally visit art museums with a specific painting in mind, but rather to wander around and feel cultured. But "Nighthawks" is one the of the few paintings I know that actually speaks to me, and I was excited to finally see it.

Imagine my surprise, then, to wander the hall of American Modernism and find that my favorite painting, the one I could finally stand inches away from, the one invoked in Bill Bryson's Neither Here Nor There... was in Boston for the summer.

In its place I found this:


Bollocks.

5 comments:

48statebus said...

Bueller...Bueller...


Classic!

Ezra said...

My sister Katie is going to be attending the School Of The Art Institute of Chicago in a few weeks...

Steve said...

Ha ha--it figures the one you want to see isn't there! We should put my car in reverse and see how many miles we can put on it in a day...brilliant!
(This is Amy)

LukisWeb said...

Sucks that you couldn't see the picture you were looking for. Thats how it is with the Art Institute of Chicago, often the paintings come and go, I been there so many times and still miss many. I do have a picture of the one you were looking for from my last visit though. Now I am on a mission to find it somewhere in my 25gbs of images.

Hilary said...

The same thing happened to my dad! NIghthawks is his favorite painting and it was in London when he came to chicago the first time and now it is on the east coast for a Edward Hopper exhibit which i think is in DC till . . . early spring. But it is an awesome painting. And now it is a smaller roadtrip to go see it.