I am in Chicago to attend the College Art Association meeting at which I learned quite a bit that I will share with both of the online classes and to visit my daughter. Two of my favorite museums anywhere in the world are the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Art. Two exhibits I will share with you are a small exhibit on restoration (more at http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=228036) an installation outside the Museum of Contemporary Art (more at http://www.mcachicago.org/exhibitions/now/2013/330) by Amanda Ross Ho and “The Way of the Shovel” (more at http://www.mcachicago.org/exhibitions/now/2013/324) a different way of looking at archaeology.
First, at the Art Institute, one of the most comprehensive collections of art in the world ranking up there with the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the Louvre in Paris. Currently, there is a small exhibition regarding a Renoir painting that was to undergo some cleaning. When they removed the frame, they discovered a small line of bright red paint under the edge of the frame and after analysis determined that this red was Carmine Lake, an naturally derived pigment that is light sensitive and so had faded over time. In our 1B class we have just been discussing the Mona Lisa and restoration, and in your textbook you should have read a little about restoration of the Sistine Chapel ceiling, and the x-ray of the Arnolfini portrait. Restoration can be controversial at times and must be done extremely carefully. In fact, I should be talking more about conservation rather than restoration as nowadays we do not change anything but learn about an artist’s process and perhaps get inside their head a little.
The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago is an interesting museum, as it does not have a permanent collection. Every show is temporary and the themes they choose take you outside of your normal conception of art. This show “The Way of the Shovel: Art as Archaeology” is not at all what you think about archaeology and broadens your thinking on this topic. For those of you in Art 1A we have been learning these last four weeks about works of art that are traditional archaeological discoveries so you will be most interested to see how archaeology can be viewed in a contemporary context. I particularly want to share Michael Rakowitz’s work entitled “The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist” which features works of looted art from Iraq- exactly the topic we have been discussing in class. The works are paper mache out of Arabic (and I am assuming Iraqi) newspapers. A short video narrated by the curator will take you through the highlights of this exhibit: http://vimeo.com/81746201