Art update

Art Institute of Chicago, Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago

Thursday morning we arrived at the Art Institute of Chicago and headed to The Modern Wing, which was designed by Renzo Piano and officially opened to the public in 2009. The 264,000 square-foot building positions the Art Institute as the second largest art museum in the USA, after SFMOMA (see blog August 18, 2016).

Last year the museum received the largest gift of art in its history, 44 works from the collection of Stephan Edlis and Gael Nesson including works by Jasper Johns, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Richard Prince, Charles Ray, Gerhard Richter, Cindy Sherman and Andy Warhol. This group represents among the world’s greatest collections of post-war Pop art ever assembled. The agreement between the museum and the collectors is that it must be on display for at least 50 years.

Jasper Johns, Target, 1961, gift of Edlis|Neeson Collection, photo courtesy of the author

Many years ago, when I was director of the Contemporary Department at Sotheby’s, I would often meet Stephan for breakfast at the Drake Hotel with my catalogue and advise him what to buy. On one occasion in 1980, I recommended the cover lot – Lichtenstein “Oh Jeff I love you too … but”. Unfortunately he missed it at the auction and wished to buy it after the sale. Lucky for Stephan, I was able to offer the dealer who purchased it for $210,00 a small profit and Stephan got the painting!

This phenomenal gift adds to the museum’s iconic works including Edward Hopper’s, “Nighthawks”, Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” and Georges Seurat’s “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte”.

Friday morning we headed over to the Rhona Hoffman gallery in the West Loop area to see the first of Rhona’s three exhibitions “Forty Years in Chicago”. Her fascinating story may be read in the “New City” interview with Museum of Contemporary Art curator Omar Khalif.


Rhona Hoffman 1970s, photo from the gallerist’s personal collection

If you look at the Chicago collectors who have donated to the MCA over the years including Jerry Elliott, Susan and Lew Manilow, Helen and Sam Zell, you will see the influence that Rhona had in forming their collections. A pioneering force in the Chicago art scene!

The MCA’s exhibition of Kerry James Marshall’s retrospective entitled “Mastry” is a formidable depiction of what it means to be a black person and a black artist today. It is a timely exhibition and is deemed to be one of the most important single-person shows this year. “Our town” (1995) is the largest work in the Garden Project series and is in the collection of the Chrystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. The show will travel to the Met/Breuer on October 25th and then on to MOCA, LA in March 2017.

Kerry James Marshall, Our Town, 1995, collection of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Photo courtesy of the author.

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