Today, some 110 years since it first opened,
the Museum features thousands of artworks spanning more than five millennia
of human creativity around the globe.
In line with its status as one of the best
art museums in America, it has
an exceptionally strong collection of paintings, including the following
Nighthawks (1942) - Edward
American Gothic (1930) - Grant Wood
Wheatstacks (End of Summer) (1890-1891) - Claude Monet
Water Lilies (1906) - Claude Monet
Sunday Afternoon, Island of La Grande Jatte (1884-86) -
Two Sisters (On the Terrace) (1881) - Pierre-Auguste Renoir
By the Water (1880) Pierre-Auguste Renoir
The Bay of Marseilles, view from L'Estaque (1885) Paul Cezanne
The Basket of Apples (c.1890s) - Paul Cezanne
The Bathers (1900) - Paul Cezanne
Assumption of the Virgin (1577) - El Greco
At the Moulin Rouge (1892-5) - Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Paris Street, Rainy Day (1877) - Gustave Caillebotte
Bedroom in Arles (1888) - Vincent Van Gogh
Self-Portrait (1887) - Vincent Van Gogh
Why are you angry? (No te aha oe Riri) (1896) - Paul Gauguin
Woman at Her Toilette (1900-1905) - Edgar Degas
Portrait of Picasso (1912) - Juan Gris
As the above list indicates, the Art Institute
of Chicago is most renowned for its holdings of 19th century French
Impressionism, Neo-Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, as well as
its 20th century American classics. However, with more than a dozen different
curatorial departments, the AIC's collection has far greater depth than
its headline highlights would suggest. Here is a brief departmental overview
of the Museum's permanent collection.
The Museum's collection of African
art features some 400 items that highlight the diversity of artistic
expression in the sub-Saharan continent, with a close focus on the sculptural
traditions of West and Central Africa. Exhibits include masks and figure
sculptures, beadwork, furniture, regalia, textiles and other tribal
art from Burkina Faso, Cote dIvoire, the Democratic Republic
of Congo, Ghana, Ethiopia, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, and South Africa. The
display of African ceramics is the largest in the United States.
The Museum's collection of American
art consists of over 1,000 paintings and sculptures, dating from the
18th century to 1950, alongside almost 2,500 decorative art objects from
the 17th century to the present. Particular strengths in the display,
are the Alfred Stieglitz Collection, as well as works of American
Impressionism (works by Mary
Cassatt and others), paintings by the great John Singer Sargent, the
Symbolist James McNeill Whistler, and the Realist subject painter Winslow
Homer. (See also Ashcan
School.) Modern American art is exemplified in works by Grant Wood,
Edward Hopper and the Mexican muralist Diego
Art of the Ancient World
The Art Institute's collection of ancient
art features Etruscan, Roman, and Greek
art, Egyptian sculpture (in most media), along with a number of outstanding
items of decorative art such as jewellery, vases, glass, and mosaics.
Highlights include the mummy and mummy case of Paankhenamun, as well as
several rare gold and silver coins.
Architecture and Design
This section concentrates on architecture
history and design, with a focus on progressive thinking and practice
across all design disciplines. Heavily based on works by architects including
Frank Lloyd Wright
(1867-1959) of the first Chicago
School of architecture, the French modernist Le
Corbusier (1887-1965), and the dynamic Mies
van der Rohe (1886-1969) - leader of the Second
Chicago School - the Museum's huge design collection also features
contemporary objects by contemporary architects, including Elizabeth Diller,
Hernan Diaz Alonso, Lindy Roy, Michael Meredith and Hilary Sample. The
collection also exhibits examples of furniture, tableware, industrial
and graphic designs by the likes of Konstantin Grcic, Hella Jongerius,
Joris Laarman, and Stefan Sagmeister.
Arms, Armor, Medieval and Renaissance
The Art Institute has an encyclopedic collection of medieval art produced
by European artists over a period of 500 years. It includes religious
works as well as objects of daily use, in a variety of media, including
painting and sculpture, jewellery art,
precious metalwork, stained glass art,
manuscript illumination and tapestry.
The department also includes the George F. Harding collection of arms
and armour reflecting armaments across the Medieval and Renaissance eras
in Italy, Spain, France, Germany, and the Netherlands.
The AIC's collection of Asian art contains works from almost five millennia
from Japan, China, Korea, India, southwest Asia, and the Middle East.
Comprising 35,000 objects of exceptional archeological and artistic significance,
it includes Chinese bronzes, Chinese
pottery, porcelain, celadon ware and antique jades; east Asian textiles;
Japanese screens and paintings; Indian and Persian miniature
painting; and sculptures from India and Southeast Asian. Also in the
collection of Japanese art,
is the Museum's world-renowned collection of Japanese woodblock prints.
European Decorative Arts
The Chicago Art Institute's huge European decorative
art collection of 25,000 objects includes ceramics, metalwork, glass,
enamels, furniture and ivory dating from 1100 to the present. Highlights
include Venetian glass; English, French, and German porcelains; English
18th-century silver and French 19th-century silver; and fine furniture
from the early 17th century to the present. The Decorative Arts department
also includes 1,544 items in the Arthur Rubloff Paperweight Collection.
European Painting and Sculpture
One of the real highlights of the Art Institute of Chicago, this world
famous collection comprises over 3,500 works spanning eight centuries
from c.1150 to 1950. It features a rare group of 15th-century Spanish,
Italian and Northern Renaissance paintings, masterpieces of European sculpture,
and an important display of 17th- and 18th-century paintings.
19th Century Painting
Part of the European Painting and Sculpture department, the Museum's collection
of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism ranks alongside any museum in
the world. It includes 33 masterpieces by Claude Monet, as well as the
seminal Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges
Seurat, several high-class works from Cezanne, Van Gogh and Gauguin, and
one of Toulouse-Lautrec's finest works.
Indian Art of the Americas
The Pre-Columbian art collection focuses mainly on Mesoamerican and Andean
sculpture, pottery, textiles, and metalwork. Examples of American
Indian art include artifacts produced by the Plains Indians, as well
as native Americans from the Southwest, and California, are also on display.
Regarded as one of the finest collections in the world, comparable only
with those of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Pompidou Centre
in Paris, the Art Institute of Chicago's unique assembly of modern
art contains almost 1,000 works of art by artists from Europe and
the Americas. Highlights include Pablo Picasso's Old Guitarist,
Henri Matisse's Bathers by a River, Gaston Lachaise's Woman
(Elevation), Constantin Brancusi's Golden Bird, Georgia O'Keeffe's
Black Cross, New Mexico, Jose Clemente Orozco's Zapata,
American Gothic by Grant
Wood, Rene Magritte's Time Transfixed, Edward Hopper's Nighthawks,
and Ivan Albright's Picture of Dorian Gray.
Spanning the entire history of the photographic medium from its beginning
in 1839 to the present day, the Art Institute's collection of lens-based
art features works by many of the world's greatest fine art photographers.
All genres are covered, including cityscape, documentary, figurative,
landscape, portrait and still life. The collection was started in 1949,
following Georgia O'Keeffe's donation of the Alfred Stieglitz Collection.
Subsequent acquisitions - of the Julien Levy Collection, of 200 photographs
by Edward Weston, and works
by Paul Strand, Andre Kertesz
and Eugene Atget - have
turned the Museum's holding of modern masters into one of the finest in
Prints and Drawings
The Museum's holding of works on paper numbers roughly 11,500 drawings
and 60,000 prints, dating from the 15th century to the present. Its particular
strengths include French 19th-century prints and drawings; British, French,
and Italian drawings; Old Master prints; and an extensive collection of
20th-century and contemporary works on paper.
This section has more than 13,000 textiles and 66,000 sample swatches
dating from 300 BCE to the present. The collection is particularly strong
in Pre-Columbian fabrics, European vestments, woven silks and velvets,
tapestries, printed fabrics, needlework, and lace. Other styles and periods
on display include 16th- and 17th-century English needlework, as well
as printed and woven materials of the 18th and 19th centuries. Also represented
are American quilts and coverlets, and 20th-century fiber art.
The Museum's collection of contemporary
art consists of almost 1,000 works. It embraces nearly every significant
art movement from 1950 to the present and features painting, sculpture,
installation art, and new-media
work. Among its most notable holdings are works by David Hockney, Jasper
Johns, Eva Hesse, Ellsworth Kelly, Bruce Nauman, and Gerhard Richter.