Truthfully, I usually find museums overwhelming. I end up being both so stimulated and worried about what I'm missing, that in under an hour I'm worn out. Not the case with The Art Institute of Chicago - which is impressive, expansive and impeccably organized. I was able to spend most of my time in the Modern wing, with a shorter visit to my buddies The Impressionists (and it was easy to by-pass all the boring cultural artifacts ... which isn't very arty to say, but hey.)
AIC holds some very famous works of art, including American Gothic and Van Gogh's Bedroom. The paintings were so familiar - having seen them in photographs, greeting cards and textbooks - that standing in front of the actual canvas felt surreal. I love being able to put my face as close to the paintings as security will allow, looking at the marks left behind by the brushes. It's incredible to imagine where the masters once stood, and as close to meeting Monet as I'll ever be.
I also got to see the Roy Lichtenstein Retrospective that was previewing while I was there (since my date was a member). It's now open to the public and will be running through September. It's such an energetic collection! My favorite were a series of landscapes done in the style of the Song Dynasty, especially the one below, titled Treetops Through the Fog. His ability to create - with just a series of dots! - a completely clear subject with so many levels of depth is amazing. I spent a good couple of minutes in front of them, and the fields shift depending on where you focus. Technically the landscapes are the last series in the showing, but I accidentally entered the exhibit backwards. Seeing them first reminded me to use fresh eyes and to let go of the ideas I already had about him as a comic-book inspired Pop Artist.
It was also fun to see his really iconic works like Drowning Girl, or as I like to call it Contact Photo in My Cellphone for All My Ex-Boyfriends.