This past Thursday, I managed to sneak out for a leisurely afternoon of art appreciation at the Art Institute of Chicago. It’s only a mile away from my studio and I don’t get there nearly enough.
Happily, I have good creative friends and every few months we remind each other to get together and head out for little field trips. Sometimes the conference calls just have to wait, you know?
Our latest Inspiration Day was to take in the recently opened “Picasso and Chicago” exhibition. I always feel extremely fortunate to be able to really take in the life’s work of a brilliant artist. To stand mere inches away and experience the textures, brush strokes and all of the details is so much more profound in person. In Pablo Picasso’s case, it’s about 80 years of the most spectacular work.
And to see it all at once! The progression and changes over time. How people close to him and world events around him shaped his vision and his evolution.
I always learn something at these exhibitions, even when I think I have a good handle on an artist. There’s a great film currently available on Netflix Streaming about Picasso and one of his very close colleagues Georges Braque called Picasso and Braque go to the Movies. Braque and Picasso had a unique symbiotic artistic relationship in Paris, each of them constantly comparing, challenging and encouraging the other’s techniques and ideas.
I was well into my adult art viewing years before I could begin to understand the Cubism avant-garde art movement that the two of them pioneered and perfected. But I really didn’t fully appreciate it until I learned about where the inspiration came from. It was moving film.
Picasso was growing up just as the fledgling medium of motion pictures was becoming part of the pop culture of the day. Cubism was a response to taking the idea of moving images and applying that to a stationary work of art.
Walking through the various rooms of the Art Institute and watching Picasso’s progression through his various periods and coming upon the Cubist works with that little extra nugget of information was like looking at his work again for the first time. It made for a truly beautiful experience.
So, if you happen to be in the Chicago area before mid-May, definitely put Picasso and Chicago on your to-do list. There’s nothing better than the mental recharge of playing hooky for an Inspiration Day.